Saturday, December 12, 2015

Favorite Christmas memories

The other night I was at a church women's Christmas party and we had cards on the table with holiday questions we had to ask. One of them asked about our most memorable Christmas.

You know what I'm talking about--that one year when things were different and unique, when things changed or you had a singular experience that you measured every other Christmas against. Or the holiday that put things into perspective. For me that was a single year, probably when I was eight (possibly nine, but one of the two.) My parents had built a house when interest rates were insanely high and got a three-year balloon thinking surely the rates would go down. But they didn't, they only went up.

At the end of the three years, they had to turn their new house that they had spent hundreds of hours working on, planned out perfectly for our family, and dreamed over, back to the bank. The Christmas budget was tight. So tight that after a little help from my grandparents, they still only had $10 per kid to spend on Christmas gifts. Yeah, $10.

Granted, this was, um, well, a number of year ago, so ten bucks went further than it does now, but it still wasn't a whole lot. (Trust me, I'm not that old!)  After looking at the limited options, my ever-creative parents decided to make art boxes for each of us. They set out to buy us each a plastic tub, colored pencils, erasers, craft paper, and coloring books among other things, which filled the little tub nicely. But they couldn't just wrap the whole lot of it and put it under the tree. We'd be done in minutes and then what?

So again, they put their heads together and decided on a plan. They separated the gifts into piles--each pile had one item for each of us. Every eraser, pencil sharpener and colored pencil was wrapped individually. That made an impressive number of piles. Then they hid the piles around the house and Dad went to work crafting poetry that was fun, silly, and rhymed. (That was what made it poetry, otherwise, not so much with the iambic pentameter.)  Trust me, bad rhymes are part of what still continues to make this game fun.

Christmas morning we woke up and there were our Christmas stockings, filled with an orange, a little candy and a few minor necessities. But there was nothing under the tree for us. Once the stockings were empty, Dad pulled out the notebook of rhymes, they explained the game, and the hunt began.

I think it took us nearly two hours to hunt for the gifts, open them, ooh and aah over what everyone received at that location, and add them to our individual stash of artistic supplies. We found them on the seats at the table, in the oven, in the shower, under beds and a bunch of other places in that tiny little rental home (five kids, 2 1/2 bedrooms--don't ask, just trust me. It was tiny.)

I'm sure my friends in the neighborhood had much nicer, fancier Christmas gifts than we did, but I never remember feeling a lack that year. My parents found a way to make even our lack seem like more than enough. (They're amazing like that.)

This year we won't make it back to Utah for Christmas, but many of my nieces and nephews will be carrying on the tradition, waiting for clues and running to the next gift. I hope their homes are filled with joy and laughter ad that through the remainder of the season, they won't forget our greatest gift of all. The Christ child, who lived for us, suffered for us, and died that we might live again with the ones we love.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Christmas Blog hop and $250 in Christmas Cash!

Just in the Nick of Time
I'm excited to be part of a bloghop this month with a fantastic grand prize of $250 to the lucky winner. The winner will be selected on December 23rd making it just in the nick of time to help with last minute Christmas shopping! We’re giving away $250 in Paypal Cash! Or alternately you can choose a $250 Amazon.com eGift Code! Sponsor List – Thanks to these awesome bloggers & authors for sponsoring this giveaway!!
 
Sponsor List
I Am A Reader
Taking Time for Mommy
The Discerning Reader
Raven Haired Girl
Unshelfish
Literary Winner
Nicole Tone
Here We Go Again...Ready?
Simple Wyrdings
Coupons and Freebies Mom
Author Devon Ashley
Julie Antonovich Reece
Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke
Nikki Jefford
Heather Gray, Author
Simply Sherryl
The HomeSchool Village
Jennifer Bardsley
Author Ednah Walters
The Page Unbound
Confessions of a Frugal Mind
Once Upon a Twilight
Krysten Lindsay Hager author
Books R Us
Author Cindy C Bennett
Lori's Reading Corner
Laurie Treacy, Author
Heather @ Townsend House
Author Erin Richards
Lise McClendon, Author
D'Ann Burrow
Heather Boyd, author
Cynthia Luhrs Author
Echo Ridge Books
Rachelle J. Christensen
Dorine White
Lucy McConnell
Taylor Hart
Patricia B. Tighe
Author Jeanette Lewis
Heather Justesen
Babs Book Bistro
Glistering Bs Blog
A Leisure Moment: A Casual Conversation about our Love for Literature
JL Weil  

Giveaway Details $250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Amazon.com eGift Card Ends 12/22/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or who can redeem an Amazon.com Gift Code. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hillary Weeks new song for the 2016 mutual theme!

Don't you love music that makes warms your soul? Hillary Weeks is one of the those musicians whose music always brightens my day and makes me want to be better. She had a beautiful song out for the 2016 Young Men's and Young Women's theme. "Press Forward, Press On" you can buy for your youth group. Check out this package:

Press Forward, Press On -combo package!
This package is also part of or Ultimate 2016 theme package HERE.
This package contains everything Hilary offers in her single, “Press Forward, Press On”.
Best-selling singer/songwriter Hilary Weeks has combined her years of talent and experience and written a song inspired by the 2016 LDS mutual theme from 2 Nephi 31:20.  Youth, Leaders and Hilary’s fans alike will love this new song!  The message is powerful and impactful for everyone!
Hilary has created a fully-produced, upbeat version, arranged in Nashville by professional musicians who have infused the song with energy that is sure to motivate and inspire!  Dustin Christensen (from The Voice) sang background vocals.  Also available is a piano version that is perfect for worshipful settings.   You will love both!

This package contains the following:
Both versions of the song, “Press Forward, Press On”
Both minus tracks
Sheet/piano music

Friday, November 6, 2015

Delicious Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

A Big thanks to my friend Christina Dymock for sharing her delicious and healthy slow cooker recipe--a perfect meal for this busy holiday season!

This week is a busy week. Between the release of Echo Ridge, the start of the holiday season, and the candy high the kids are riding after Halloween, we could use some hearty and healthy food. These Turkey/Veggie Joes from The Healthy Family Slow Cooker Cookbook are perfect. They cook the day away in the slow cooker and are hot and ready to serve just in time for my big and busy boys.
Turkey Veggie Sloppy Joes (5)
Turkey, Veggie Sloppy Joe Serves 6 Ingredients 1 pound ground turkey 2 celery ribs 1 green or yellow pepper ½ cup chopped broccoli or cauliflower ½ cup chopped carrots 1 green onion chopped 1 tablespoon honey 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 teaspoon cilantro 3 tablespoons no salt added tomato sauce 6 crusty wheat rolls Directions Place the turkey in the slow cooker. Add the celery, pepper, broccoli or cauliflower, carrots, onion, honey, vinegar, and cilantro. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Remove the turkey and cut it into ¼ inch pieces. Return it to the slow cooker and combine with veggies. Add the tomato sauce and allow to cook for 30-45 minutes longer. Cut the rolls in half and fill with meat sauce. Top with additional veggies if desired and serve.

Use some of that extra time to read a good book! There are just a few days left to get our Christmas Kisses anthology for only 99 cents!  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, GooglePlay, Smashwords

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Get great books and a chance to win $200 in Christmas cash!


The authors of Echo Ridge decided to organize a multi-author sale during release week and invite our favorite authors to join us. All the books featured on this sale are only $.99 and they are all amazing!
Don't forget to enter the rafflecopter giveaway for $200 in Christmas Cash.
Happy book shopping!

Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology
Christmas Kisses is a collection from five bestselling and award-winning authors. Set in the snowy town of Echo Ridge in upstate New York, these inspirational romances are sure to delight while you sip cocoa by the fire and listen to Christmas carols.
Amazon * iTunes * Barnes & Noble * Smashwords * Kobo * Goodreads


Brownies & Betrayal by Heather Justesen
Pastry chef Tess Crawford thought moving from Chicago to quiet Silver Springs, Arizona would simplify her life. That was before she found the body of a woman with whom she had traded heated words the previous night, left her fingerprints on
the murder weapon, and came under attack for trying to clear her name. When her cheating ex-fiance shows up, intent on convincing her to come back to work for him, Tess—armed with an extra batch of éclairs—decides to take control and solve the mystery herself, with the help of friends and frenemies alike.
But will that be enough to save her when she gets too close and the killer decides it’s safer to get her out of the way?

Simplify & Savor the Season by Connie E. Sokol
Ready to enjoy the holidays again? Use this two-part holiday organizer to help you savor the celebrations. In the first half of the book, brainstorm the Big Four; then, detail the To Dos including menu, gift-planning, etc. with success tips on how to eliminate the unnecessary and focus on the essential. Wrap up with "5 Holiday Juicers" to make life joyful. Keep your notes handy in the companion Simplify & Savor Take-along Planner. 
With the second half of the book. curl up with a cup of cocoa and read "Savory Suggestions and Stories," a collection of laugh-out-loud anecdotal stories including "Let Go of the Cookie Cutter Christmas" and "Thankful for Turkey Warbling". Make this holiday season one you remember and enjoy!

Diamond Rings are Deadly Things by Rachelle J. Christensen
Adrielle Pyper knows how to plan a wedding, and she's especially good at pleasing bridezillas. But when her biggest client and best friend is murdered just three days before the wedding, Adri's world falls apart. She moves to the resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho, and starts from scratch. Thanks to Adri's impeccable taste and unique style, she lands two celebrity clients, and her business seems headed for success—until someone vandalizes the specialty wedding dresses she imported from overseas. Adri must race to uncover the secret hidden within the yards of satin and lace before she becomes the next victim. 
With a delightful blend of mystery, toe-curling kisses, humor, and spine-tingling thrills, Diamond Rings are Deadly Things will keep you turning pages long into the night. 

A Baker's Dozen by Lucy McConnell
Tempt your sweet tooth with 13 delicious, easy, and beautiful dessert recipes. Each recipe has been time-tested and found irresistible. You’ll horde the Lemon Brownies but you might be willing to share the Rock and Roll Cake—with a good friend. 
Recipes include: Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Cookies, Pumpkin Bunt Cake, S’mores Cheesecake, No-Fail Lemon Bars 
Impress your coworkers, family, friends, and even the guys at the car repair shop with these recipes. They’re sure to become favorites in your recipe box, lunch box, and ice box. 

The Colony by Cami Checketts
To protect her sons from the mistakes of her past, Brinlee Trapper escapes to a secluded mountain home. But there are dangers lurking in the mountains she has never encountered. The little family is saved from injury by Jed, a mysterious hunter. Brinlee is drawn to him, but she worries about his involvement with a peaceful commune hidden deep in the mountains behind her property.
Lance, Brinlee's attentive neighbor, has his own troubled history. Between his obvious attraction to Brinlee and his developing love for her children, Brinlee finds it more than difficult to guard her heart against this tender intrusion.
While Jed offers a life of excitement and freedom, Lance holds the key to the family Brinlee always wanted. When it comes time to choose, she learns that both men have secrets that could shatter her fledgling trust in men and the wrong decision could leave more than her heart exposed to danger.

Torn Canvas by Donna K. Weaver
Modern-day pirates took more than Jori Virtanen’s friends; they stole his face. Not only does the twenty-four-year-old former model have to confront months of reconstructive surgery, he discovers his previous life was as superficial as his looks. Up-and-coming talk show host Olivia Howard wants an interview. She, like the rest of the press, expects a hero, but Jori knows the truth. His beauty masks a beast.
In seclusion and evading the press, Jori struggles to make a new life as an artist. But he can’t hide from himself; more than his face is damaged. How can Jori possibly make amends for all that he’s broken? When Olivia finally tracks him down, he must decide if he can trust her. Could this unlikely woman be a key to freeing his heart and healing the beast?
The audiobook is only $1.99 with the purchase of the ebook.

Son of War Daughter of Chaos by Janette Rallison
Aislynn is accustomed to watching for the enemy. Her parents instructed her from the time she was young to look for people with the signs: greater than normal strength, eyes that can glow green, and the ability to jump long distances. Over the years, Aislynn has come to view her parents' fears as quirks-things that get in the way of having a normal high school life. When Aislynn's mother dies under suspicious conditions, her father doubles his restrictions. But all his precautions can't stop the boy with glowing green eyes from finding Aislynn. She realizes too late she's been drafted into an ancient Egyptian war, whether she's prepared or not.

Vocal Crush by Lisa Swinton
Can you ever out run a broken heart?
Lexi Court spent seven years traveling the world, living the nomadic Broadway life, in an attempt to outrun the broken heart Nick Rivers gave her. Now, there’s nowhere left to go.
When she accepted a position as a high school drama teacher in Las Vegas, Lexi hoped to get over Nick, find a nice guy, and settle down. But what should be a quiet summer gets turned upside down when Lexi's best friend, Taffy, drafts her to be an emergency replacement coach on a televised vocal competition.
Feeling out of her league among the other three celebrity coaches, Lexi fights for the most promising contestants to be on her team. One note from a single voice shatters her summer. Nick unexpectedly auditions and joins Lexi's team. With her vocal crush on him raging as strong as ever, she has nowhere to run from Nick’s dreamy looks or siren voice.
Lexi has no doubt that Nick can win the competition. The question is does he want to win her heart as well or will he damage it beyond repair?
Think television reality show The Voice meets Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Picture Perfect by U.S.A. Today Bestseller Heather B. Moore

Gemma has never done anything out of the ordinary, until her boyfriend Randy starts to ignore her. But even cutting and dyeing her hair doesn’t get his attention. She decides to join her old high school friends for spring vacation, only to be faced with Drew, her best friend who suddenly seems interested in her as more than a friend. Gemma must determine if her heart is on the rebound or if it’s finally met its true match.


Endless Modern Cinderella by Jaclyn Weist
Sydney lives her nightmares every night. While other teenagers are dreaming of boys or traveling to exotic places, she must run a staircase with no beginning or no end, or a terrible debt will never be paid. 
Just before her seventeenth birthday, the dreams change. She is no longer alone.  
But her nightmares don’t end when she wakes up. Her stepmother and stepsisters threaten to ruin everything she holds dear. She must protect the secret that both she and her father have magic or they will use it to their advantage. 
As Sydney learns to control her magic, what seemed impossible before—escaping her stepmother and those ever-present stairs—is now at her fingertips. When she learns the ultimate plan of her evil captor, Sydney must stop her at all costs, or she will forever be trapped inside her nightmares. 

Cookie Girl Christmas by Christene Houston

Molly Hayes has one more job before Christmas and then she can put her plans for a storefront bakery of her own in motion. What she doesn't bargain for is the handsome young Scrooge who insults her cookies and makes her blood boil. Toss in a heaping helping of snowstorm and a pinch of romantic old Inn and you've got yourself the perfect recipe for a not-so-silent-night.



And Something Blue by Paige Timothy

Bridal consultant Laurie Fletcher spends all her time helping others prepare for the most special day of their lives. Logan Reese is easily the most irritating man on the planet, and for some reason, he's made annoying Laurie his mission in life. Will true love ever come Laurie's way, or is she doomed to watch others get their happily ever after while she sits on the sidelines?



Six Days of Christmas by Kaylee  Baldwin

When Natalie goes home with her best friend for Christmas, she expects plenty of quiet time to work on a winning ad so she can turn her dream internship into her dream job. Instead, she gets time-consuming Christmas festivities, a house full of children who seem to be multiplying, and Jimmy, her best friend’s brother—someone who makes her question everything she’s always thought she wanted. 



Ring Around the Rosie by Julie Coulter Bellon
As the ex-wife of a law enforcement officer, Sarah Reed has known loneliness and loss. In order to cope, she makes a life for herself that's full of routine while building a wall of ice around her heart. Everything about her is as predictable as she can make it until a tiny detour for her ex-husband, Ron, changes her life forever. Caught in a bomb crisis, Sarah is taken hostage by a man who wants Ron and everyone around him to suffer---and his idea of suffering is more terrible than Sarah had ever dreamed. 
Captain Ron Reed has seen the worst of humanity in his job with the Hostage Negotiation Team, but he never expected his past to come back with a vengeance---literally. Aaron Starks, a criminal explosives expert, has stolen next-gen bomb technology. He uses it to force Ron to bargain for the lives of his team and his ex-wife, Sarah, the woman he still loves. But the situation escalates when Ron discovers that Starks has an even bigger objective in mind---using the bomb to show how vulnerable America and her people truly are. 
Ron is willing to risk everything to save his country and those he loves, but when negotiations break down, will his sacrifice be too little too late?

Yesterday by Amanda Tru
Her yesterday was five years ago. What will her tomorrow bring? 
When Hannah Kraeger saves a family injured in a car accident, she has no idea she has changed events in the past. Waking the next morning, Hannah discovers her yesterday was really five years ago. 
Each trip Hannah takes through time changes the timeline and her own life. With help from Dr. Seth McAllister, Hannah must unravel the mystery of why she time travels and who she actually is before the strange ability costs her future, the man she loves, and even her life. 
YESTERDAY is a thrilling Christian Romantic Suspense filled with unexpected twists, mystery, and romance. 

My One and Only by Shannon Guymon
Meredith Jensen has seen her share of ups and downs. She’s found love twice already and lost it in spectacularly traumatic ways. Now? She just wants a peaceful life, free from love and drama. Meredith’s plans for the future center around planning other people’s weddings and her new online dating website. Just because she works to help other people find love doesn’t mean she wants any part of it though. Unfortunately for Meredith’s plans, Asher Murphy is determined to get her to give love another chance. But then again, so is Pule Matafeo. Meredith has never denied that she’s stubborn and feisty so it might take the combined forces of all their friends in Fircrest to get her heart back on track in time for Valentine’s Day. 

Stealing Adda by Tamara Leigh
WRITER’S BLOCK, NIBBLED NAILS, PLAGIARISM, OH MY! AND DID I MENTION ROMANCE? Life for Adda Sinclaire, New York Times best-selling author and historical romance writer extraordinaire, reads more like a country song than a breathless, bodice-bursting affair. For starters, she has no romance in her own life. That might have something to do with the fact that her husband—correction, ex-husband—ran off with Stick Woman, whom everyone knew would never be more than a mid-list author anyway. To add insult to injury (and another verse to the country song), her ex not only took their dog but gave it to Stick Woman. If that isn't enough, Adda has come down with a horrible case of writer's block, finds herself gifted with a Bible that is determined to speak to her, and is the unwitting target of a romance cover model's misdirected advances. Just when she catches her breath—and quite possibly the eye of a certain fabulously good-looking man (ahem…her new editor)—her arch-nemesis gives the pot one final stir.

Spy by Night by Jordan McCollum
After watching her parents’ marriage crash and burn, CIA operative Talia Reynolds doesn’t believe in “happily ever afters.” Besides, her job entails eighty-hour weeks, juggling a dozen covers and disguises, and tracking down a dangerous Russian spy ring. She hardly has time for romantic entanglements, even if she could let her guard down enough to get close to anyone.But all the rules she lives by could be broken when she meets aerospace engineer Danny Fluker.
Danny moved to Canada for a great job — and a chance to start over after a bad breakup. Dating definitely isn’t in his plans . . . until beautiful and enigmatic Talia throws a perfect storm right in his flight path. When he catches a glimpse of the real woman behind her façade, he has to get to know her better.
Talia has to find a Russian spymaster before he figures out she’s not who she claims, and failing to keep her two lives separate in the process could mean the death of more than just her budding relationship. Danny has to decide if a future with Talia — and facing the past — is worth the risk of getting hurt again. If they can break through the barriers keeping them apart (and avoid a major international catastrophe), they just might have a chance at being happy together.

Saving Grace by Michele Paige Holmes
From #2 Amazon Bestselling Historical Romance Author and Whitney Award Winner, Michele Paige Holmes, comes SAVING GRACE, a regency romance from the Hearthfire Romance series: 
After the death of her grandfather, the Duke of Salisbury, Grace Thatcher wants nothing more than to live quietly in the country with her younger siblings. Her father’s debts thwart those plans, and to protect her sister, Helen, Grace must marry a man of her father’s choosing. 
As each suitor proves less than desirable, Grace comes up with clever schemes, causing each to reject her. While staying at the mysterious Sutherland Hall, a middle-of-the-night mishap sends Grace into the arms of a stranger, Nicholas Sutherland—and provides inspiration for her grandest plan yet—one that will leave her reputation in tatters yet free both her and Helen from all possibility of marriage. 
Too late Grace regrets her rash actions when her father’s last choice, Mr. Samuel Preston, proves to be a gentleman and a friend. But Samuel is the sworn enemy of Nicholas Sutherland, the man responsible for her “ruin.” Now instead of being free, Grace is caught between two men—each with his own agenda. 
Other Hearthfire Romances: LOVING HELEN & MARRYING CHRISTOPHER

An Unexpected Proposal by Annette Lyon
While working at a wood camp in the Logan canyon during the winter of 1880, Caroline Simpson is forced to thwart the aggressive advances of Mr. Butch Larson, and in the process discovers that her long-time friend James has genuine affection for her. But as stubborn as Caroline is, she minimizes the emotions James has awakened in her, and it takes almost losing him to admit her true feelings.
 An Unexpected Proposal was introduced in the first volume of the bestselling and award-winning Timeless Romance Anthology series, Winter Collection:
Amazon #1 Bestselling *New Release* in Clean Romance, Top 10 in Regency Romance, Top 5 in Victorian Romance

Paris Cravings by Amazon #1 Best Selling Author for Clean Romance, Kimberley Montpetit
Can life really turn on a dime, a missed bus—or a stuck pastry shop door?
Chloe Dillard's life has always been complicated. Her mother is a neurotic romance novelist and her boyfriend, Mathew, has been pressuring her to go "all the way".
But after The Worst Night of Her Life, Chloe escapes on her Senior Class trip to the swoon-worthy city of Paris which takes her mind off her troubles—temporarily. On the final leg of her dream trip, Chloe squeezes in one final run for a last-minute box of decadent pastries. Add a broken shop door, subtract a broken four-inch heel from her cute strappy sandals, and Chloe ends up one stuck girl on the bakery shop floor with a sprained ankle.
Rescued by the shop owner’s dreamy son with chocolate-syrup eyes, the beautiful city of Paris suddenly becomes Chloe’s personal secret adventure. And even though Jean-Paul, the oh-so-kind La Patisserie shop boy is the gentlemanly guy Chloe has always dreamed of, even he has a girlfriend.
The police are tracking her down as a run-away, Mom’s having a nervous breakdown over her daughter’s “disappearance”, and Chloe’s just trying to have a Happily-Ever-After even as her dreams with Matt are swirling down the drain.
What’s a girl to do in the most romantic city in the world?
Easy Pastry Recipe in the back of the book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It's my book birthday!

You'd think after 20+ book releases it would start to be more ho-hum, but it's always exciting. I think I'm going to celebrate with a mug full of my homemade hot cocoa and maybe a little boogie around the living room.

Anyway, to day is release day for Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology and I wanted to share a little known fact about the book. We slipped in some pretty awesome recipes. That's right, each story has a recipe that goes with it!

In The Candy Counter Heiress, Andy has a thing for banana flavored chocolates (and kisses) so Lucy McConnell has whipped up a recipe for Chocolate Banana Bread.

Christmas Makeover introduces you to one of the hot spots in Echo Ridge where the pizza is to die for. Cami Checketts has included a recipe for Emma's Homemade Bread that will have you going back for seconds.

Rachelle Christensen's Hope for Christmas is a story with whole lot of heart and her recipe for Carlos's White Chicken Chili w/Optional Slow-Cooker tips has a whole lot of flavor!

Soda Fountain Christmas, by Connie Sokol, celebrates the fun of yesteryear as Kendworth's Department Store works to regain the sense of community department stores were built upon. To celebrate days gone by, Connie included a recipe for Martha Jean's Apple Cider Doughnuts.

Heather Tullis, author of One Winter Night, knows how to spice up a story and her recipe for Fay's Gingerbread Cupcakes is just the thing to cap off your holiday parties.

BUT, you get so much more than wonderful recipes with Christmas Kisses. The stories are sure to capture your imagination--and your heart--and transport you to Echo Ridge where romance, Christmas music, and twinkling lights abound. You can pick up your copy and start reading TODAY because, ta da! it's release day!!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Keep Your Diamond Sparkling!


My amazing friend, Rachelle Christensen is an expert at DIY techniques. I loved this easy way to keep your diamonds sparkling because I love my wedding ring and let's face it, everyday activities can really get it dirty. She shares this tip in her book, Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things, and she is one of the authors featured in Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology.


 Keep Your Diamonds Sparkling

A little tip from Rachelle

 I've been married to my sweetheart, Steve, for 17 years and this is the diamond ring he gave me all those years ago. It's been through a lot of wear, had to be re-pronged and frequently is dirty since I have five kids and endless household chores.
 I only get it cleaned when I go to the mall, and the shop we bought it from checks and cleans it, so if you look closely in the picture, you can see it isn't sparkling today because I don't go shopping much.

Here's a great little solution that only takes five minutes to keep your diamond sparkling!

Soak your diamond ring in a warm solution of liquid dish
detergent and water for five minutes.

Use a soft brush if necessary
to remove dirt. Soft is the key—don’t use a brush with bristles that
are stiff enough to scratch the ring’s metal setting.

Swish the ring
around in the solution and then place it in a colander (so you don’t
lose it down the drain). 

Rinse it thoroughly in warm water. Dry with
a lint-free cloth.

 Now look at that diamond ring sparkle! Hopefully you can tell a difference from the pictures. If not, try it, you'll definitely smile when you notice the difference on your own ring!


Learn more about Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things and all of the chapter tutorials here
You can read her fun story Hope for Christmas here for .99 cents for a limited time!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

7 Tips on Staying Healthy Through the Holiday months from a Pro

I know Halloween is still a few days away, and the leaves here are still half green (I really love Kansas weather). Christmas started early for me this year as I worked on a Christmas-themed story, or two, and I'm testing out a bunch of Christmas recipes for my next book, Eggnog & Extortion. You'll have to forgive the excitement that is already starting to well up inside me as I think about the holiday ahead.

Obviously, from the title, this article was not written by me, but by my friend Cami Checketts, a fitness and healthy eating guru. (And one of the other authors in our new Christmas anthology.) But don't worry, she has a handle on enjoying the next few months, and still, hopefully, not putting on the pounds.


Enjoy the Season by Cami Checketts 

Tis the season to enjoy time with loved ones, reflect on the marvelous gift of our Savior's birth, reach out a helping hand to those in need, and cuddle in front of the tree with hot cocoa and cookies. Christmas is a wonderful time of year filled with joyful moments, but I find myself becoming so crazy busy I can hardly fit in a workout and who wants to eat healthy when the neighbors are bringing over fudge? I’m definitely a believer in savoring that fudge but I also thought of a few ways that I keep my body feeling somewhat healthy throughout the season.  

1- Only eat something if it is truly a Christmas treat. Just because they make Oreos with red and green filling does not mean they're an exclusive Christmas treat, but Aunt Abbie's peppermint dessert? That's worth savoring.

2 - Turn on Christmas music and dance. My boys think Mom spinning to the Nutcracker is hilarious.

3 - Go ice-skating, sledding, snow-shoeing, or cross-country skiing. Try out a new sport, the variety is great for improving physical fitness and the challenge is wonderful for your mind.

4 - Go for a walk outside. When the temperature is below 50 you burn more calories - it's worth it to freeze the tip of your nose but if it's so cold your eyelashes crystallize you'd better take it to the treadmill. 

5 - Bake your favorite treats, have a sample, then take them to all the neighbors. The visits will be almost as fun as the baked goods.

6 - Enjoy your family and forget about everything else. Play with your kids. Read Christmas stories and thrive on their childlike joy. Snuggle up with your sweetheart and burn some calories kissing in front of the tree.

7 - Focus on the Savior and following his example of love and service, the real reason we celebrate this blessed holiday, and the joy will continue throughout the new year.

Merry Christmas!


I hope you're gearing up for Christmas as well. If you're looking for a delightful Christmas romance, check out this fun anthology set in upstate New York. Also, scroll all the way to the bottom to learn about a great Christmas Cash Giveaway we're running in conjunction with our book release. It's pretty amazing.


Christmas Kisses is a collection from five bestselling and award-winning authors.
Set in the snowy town of Echo Ridge in upstate New York, these inspirational romances are sure to delight while you sip cocoa by the fire and listen to Christmas carols.


***$.99***
Amazon * Barnes and Noble * Kobo * iTunes * Smashwords
Add it to Goodreads


The Candy Counter Heiress by Lucy McConnell Amazon bestselling & award-winning author
Someday Reese Gates will own The Candy Counter at Kenworth's; but someday can't come fast enough when the manager threatens to bring in a national candy provider. Reese secretly takes matters into her own hands hoping to save her parents from additional worry and prove herself capable of running the company. Her deception deepens as she ropes computer guru Andy Edwards into helping her expand the business.  Reese wanted to shake things up, but she wasn't planning on her heart getting caught in the mix by Andy's stolen kisses. If she can hold it together until after Christmas, then she can reveal her successful online company and her feelings for Andy. Unfortunately for Reese, even the best laid plans can melt like chocolate.
https://lucymcconnell.wordpress.com/ * https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaDymock?fref=ts

Christmas Makeover by Cami Checketts Amazon bestselling author
Chelsea Jamison has been infatuated with Drew Stirling longer than she's loved playing basketball, high-top sneakers, and the Knicks. Unfortunately, all Drew sees is the kid who kicked his trash in the high school free throw contest and not the girl whose heart breaks into a fast dribble when he's near.
Drew makes an unexpected visit home to Echo Ridge and their friendship picks up where they left off as they scheme to make a teenaged boy's Christmas dreams come true. When Chelsea realizes she's fallen for her best friend, she wonders if there is any hope of a relationship with Drew or if she's stuck in buddy-status for life.
www.camichecketts.com * https://www.facebook.com/CamiCheckettsAuthor

Soda Fountain Christmas by Connie E. Sokol Amazon bestselling author
Keira Kenworth has one focus this holiday season: save her father's old-time department store from bankruptcy. She is not focused on Tayton Wells, the tall, dark, and genius marketing guru from downtown New York, hired to make it happen. He is as doubtful that her nostalgic connect-the-town ideas will succeed as she is about his numbers-first plan. However, it's not just their different approaches that cause sparks to fly. Working together on a fast deadline to save the store before Christmas, the unspoken connection between them grows. But will the tough decisions they face drive them back to their separate worlds, or will they lead to the beginning of love?
www.conniesokol.com * https://www.facebook.com/8basics?_rdr=p

Hope for Christmas by Rachelle J. Christensen Amazon bestselling & award-winning author
Anika Fletcher hates Christmas--its promises of good tidings and hope for the future are as tinseled as the ornaments on Kenworth's Hope Tree. Despite her feelings, Anika wants to maintain her daughter's faith in the magic of the season and gladly accepts a second job working with the handsome Carlos Rodriguez to restore Kenworth's old fashioned soda fountain. Carlos is no stranger to hard times and slowly shares his life of light and joy with Anika as they work together. Just as her fragile soul begins to feel hope again, an ill-timed act of charity changes everything. Anika isn't sure who she can trust or if hope is worth nurturing--especially at Christmas when it's easy to enjoy a kiss and believe love can last longer than the season.
www.facebook.com/rachellechristensenauthor * http://rachellechristensen.com/

One Winter Night by Heather Tullis Amazon bestselling author

Jonah Owens thought moving to Echo Ridge to open his art gallery would solve all of his problems. The need to sell his grandma's house adds an unexpected complication. It would be easier if his neighbor didn't have all those farm animals.
Kaya Feidler's family has owned their land for nearly a hundred years--long before the neighbors were there. There's no way she's giving up the animal therapy business she's been struggling to make profitable. She gets a temp job helping Jonah in the gallery. Spending time together is a recipe for romance, but can they overcome their own hangups to be more than friends?
http://heathertullis.com/ * https://www.facebook.com/HeatherTullisBooks

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Tips for re-evaluating whats important

Fall leaves  and cooler weather is a great time to look at our schedules and put our priorities back in order. With writing deadlines and a new job teaching early morning religion classes in my congregation, I've found new meaning in back-to-school craziness. Here are some great tips from Connie E. Sokol on getting Back to Basics and re-prioritizing!

Crazy that Christmas is also just around the corner. I'm so thrilled this holiday season to be part of Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology, which is now up for preorder at the special price of just 99 cents. The set includes five wonderful romances all based around Kenworth's Department Store at Christmas time. By pre-ordering the book now, you lock in the discount price and guarantee deliver of the book on November 3rd.

***Pre-order now for only $.99***

Christmas Kisses is a collection from five bestselling and award-winning authors. Set in the snowy town of Echo Ridge in upstate New York, these inspirational romances are sure to delight while you sip cocoa by the fire and listen to Christmas carols.

Amazon * Barnes and Noble * Kobo * iTunes * Smashwords
Add it to Goodreads


Don't forget to enter to win nine different books through the Rafflecopter below.

Get back to basics at back-to-school time by Connie Sokol

Back to school--it's that magical time of year (for children or for parents?) When you make a few quick changes to routine, purpose and appreciation, the summer-to-fall transition can be smoother and happier.

De-stress one system
Rather than overhaul your home before school starts (was that even a goal?) organize fall one system at a time. Consider the one that bothers you most — kids’ lunches, entry way coming and going, school papers — and tackle that one first. For example, school papers can be contained in folders, magazine holders, trays, clipboards, etc.

Use the system that works best for you. I’ve used all of them and found a fit combining three: kids put to-do homework in a folder, graded homework in a tray and long-term project information in their clipboard. This may seem complex, but for whatever reason it works!

Find your focus
If you have children heading back to school, they’re going to experience mental and emotional growth (we hope). Happily, you get to, too. Consider what helps you experience “joyful contribution,” meaning, something small or big that helps you feel creative, fulfilled or joyful.

For example, on a small level of this a few years ago, my daughters and I loved tmake flower cookies: chocolate chip cookie dough pressed in a flower mold, then baked with a lollipop stick and tied with a bow. We would take these to friends and neighbors, and it absolutely brought us joy (and licking the bowl was joyful too …).

As you decide on something joyful, perhaps a medium-level adventure would include going back to school too, like a friend of mine. She is a mom doing an online program so that with little children at home, it’s more doable for her schedule. In this way, she can continue progressing toward her ultimate educational goal of receiving a college degree.

If it resonates, something on a larger scale might be a purposeful project. A few years ago, a friend of mine noticed that in the neighborhood the kids played on a solitary large rock. While fine, she wanted them to have something more interesting and that allowed more children to gather and play. She partnered with another friend, involved the community, garnered donations, and after several months had created a beautiful and functional play area. Later she shared that on a city celebration day, she looked over at the children all playing happily on the play area and felt a surge of joy.

Notch up marital appreciation
In his excellent book "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work," Dr. John Gottman shares a simple but powerful appreciation exercise. Using a list of character traits (he has a list of about 70, but you can create your own) have each spouse choose three positive traits of the other spouse. Jot down experiences where those traits were observed. Each spouse then takes a turn sharing a trait of the other spouse and sharing the related experience. This takes perhaps five to 10 minutes tops, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

If you like, expand that exercise to your family. We did this a few nights ago, with each child drawing a sibling’s name and then sharing three great qualities about that sibling, and one related experience. Despite the teenage boys’ obvious I’d-rather-get-my-wisdom-teeth-pulled response, they actually shared positive comments to the other person’s just as obvious delight.

Enjoy this back-to-school time by “attending” to three different but joy-giving areas.

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=1009&sid=31130823

One Winter Night by Heather Tullis Amazon bestselling author
Jonah Owens thought moving to Echo Ridge to open his art gallery would solve all of his problems. The need to sell his grandma's house adds an unexpected complication. It would be easier if his neighbor didn't have all those farm animals.
Kaya Feidler's family has owned their land for nearly a hundred years--long before the neighbors were there. There's no way she's giving up the animal therapy business she's been struggling to make profitable. She gets a temp job helping Jonah in the gallery. Spending time together is a recipe for romance, but can they overcome their own hangups to be more than friends?
http://heathertullis.com/ * https://www.facebook.com/HeatherTullisBooks

Christmas Makeover by Cami Checketts Amazon bestselling author
Chelsea Jamison has been infatuated with Drew Stirling longer than she's loved playing basketball, high-top sneakers, and the Knicks. Unfortunately, all Drew sees is the kid who kicked his trash in the high school free throw contest and not the girl whose heart breaks into a fast dribble when he's near.
Drew makes an unexpected visit home to Echo Ridge and their friendship picks up where they left off as they scheme to make a teenaged boy's Christmas dreams come true. When Chelsea realizes she's fallen for her best friend, she wonders if there is any hope of a relationship with Drew or if she's stuck in buddy-status for life.
www.camichecketts.com * https://www.facebook.com/CamiCheckettsAuthor

The Candy Counter Heiress by Lucy McConnell Amazon bestselling & award-winning author
Someday Reese Gates will own The Candy Counter at Kenworth's; but someday can't come fast enough when the manager threatens to bring in a national candy provider. Reese secretly takes matters into her own hands hoping to save her parents from additional worry and prove herself capable of running the company. Her deception deepens as she ropes computer guru Andy Edwards into helping her expand the business.  Reese wanted to shake things up, but she wasn't planning on her heart getting caught in the mix by Andy's stolen kisses. If she can hold it together until after Christmas, then she can reveal her successful online company and her feelings for Andy. Unfortunately for Reese, even the best laid plans can melt like chocolate.
https://lucymcconnell.wordpress.com/ * https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaDymock?fref=ts

Soda Fountain Christmas by Connie E. Sokol Amazon bestselling author
Keira Kenworth has one focus this holiday season: save her father's old-time department store from bankruptcy. She is not focused on Tayton Wells, the tall, dark, and genius marketing guru from downtown New York, hired to make it happen. He is as doubtful that her nostalgic connect-the-town ideas will succeed as she is about his numbers-first plan. However, it's not just their different approaches that cause sparks to fly. Working together on a fast deadline to save the store before Christmas, the unspoken connection between them grows. But will the tough decisions they face drive them back to their separate worlds, or will they lead to the beginning of love?
www.conniesokol.com * https://www.facebook.com/8basics?_rdr=p

Hope for Christmas by Rachelle J. Christensen Amazon bestselling & award-winning author
Anika Fletcher hates Christmas--its promises of good tidings and hope for the future are as tinseled as the ornaments on Kenworth's Hope Tree. Despite her feelings, Anika wants to maintain her daughter's faith in the magic of the season and gladly accepts a second job working with the handsome Carlos Rodriguez to restore Kenworth's old fashioned soda fountain. Carlos is no stranger to hard times and slowly shares his life of light and joy with Anika as they work together. Just as her fragile soul begins to feel hope again, an ill-timed act of charity changes everything. Anika isn't sure who she can trust or if hope is worth nurturing--especially at Christmas when it's easy to enjoy a kiss and believe love can last longer than the season.
www.facebook.com/rachellechristensenauthor * http://rachellechristensen.com/


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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Delicious crock-pot recipe to make dinner easier

I don't know about all of you, but I'm always struggling to balance my career, church responsibilities, community activities and my family and home. Some days eight o'clock rolls around and I realize we still haven't eaten dinner. If you've made a goal to have family dinners, before it's time to settle in for the night, check out the recipe for Molasses Roast. It will slow cook in your crock-pot while you tackle your to-do list.

Another goal I've set is to get a jump on the holidays. With that in mind, I'd like to let you know about a new release, Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology, which is now up for pre-order at the special price of just 99 cents. The set includes five wonderful romances all based around Kenworth's Department Store at Christmas time. By pre-ordering the book now, you lock in the discount price and guarantee deliver of the book on November 3rd. Keep reading for a sneak peek at each book in the set and I hope you have a wonderful start to the new school year.

Christmas Kisses is a collection from five bestselling and award-winning authors.
Set in the snowy town of Echo Ridge in upstate New York, these inspirational romances are sure to delight while you sip cocoa by the fire and listen to Christmas carols.

***Pre-order now for only $.99***

Amazon * Barnes and Noble * Kobo * iTunes * Smashwords
Add it to Goodreads

Win amazing books by each of the authors. Enter below to win - nine different books will be given to nine lucky winners.

Slow Cooked Molasses Roast
Serves 6
The first time I made this roast, I ended up eating a good portion while standing over the slow cooker with a fork. Do not be afraid of the molasses, it creates a gorgeous color and takes the meat to a deep flavor that will have your family hovering around the kitchen in anticipation. I serve it alone or on toasted bread.
Ingredients
1 (3-4 pound) pork roast
½ cup molasses
½ cup pickle juice
1 tablespoon Grey Poupon
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 teaspoon red pepper

Directions
Place the roast in a slow cooker.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the molasses, pickle juice, grey poupon, onion powder, cumin, cilantro, and red pepper. Pour over the meat and turn the meat several times to coat well. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the roast is cooked through.

One Winter Night by Heather Tullis Amazon bestselling author
Jonah Owens thought moving to Echo Ridge to open his art gallery would solve all of his problems. The need to sell his grandma's house adds an unexpected complication. It would be easier if his neighbor didn't have all those farm animals.
Kaya Feidler's family has owned their land for nearly a hundred years--long before the neighbors were there. There's no way she's giving up the animal therapy business she's been struggling to make profitable. She gets a temp job helping Jonah in the gallery. Spending time together is a recipe for romance, but can they overcome their own hangups to be more than friends?
http://heathertullis.com/ * https://www.facebook.com/HeatherTullisBooks

Christmas Makeover by Cami Checketts Amazon bestselling author
Chelsea Jamison has been infatuated with Drew Stirling longer than she's loved playing basketball, high-top sneakers, and the Knicks. Unfortunately, all Drew sees is the kid who kicked his trash in the high school free throw contest and not the girl whose heart breaks into a fast dribble when he's near.
Drew makes an unexpected visit home to Echo Ridge and their friendship picks up where they left off as they scheme to make a teenaged boy's Christmas dreams come true. When Chelsea realizes she's fallen for her best friend, she wonders if there is any hope of a relationship with Drew or if she's stuck in buddy-status for life.
www.camichecketts.com * https://www.facebook.com/CamiCheckettsAuthor

The Candy Counter Heiress by Lucy McConnell Amazon bestselling & award-winning author
Someday Reese Gates will own The Candy Counter at Kenworth's; but someday can't come fast enough when the manager threatens to bring in a national candy provider. Reese secretly takes matters into her own hands hoping to save her parents from additional worry and prove herself capable of running the company. Her deception deepens as she ropes computer guru Andy Edwards into helping her expand the business.  Reese wanted to shake things up, but she wasn't planning on her heart getting caught in the mix by Andy's stolen kisses. If she can hold it together until after Christmas, then she can reveal her successful online company and her feelings for Andy. Unfortunately for Reese, even the best laid plans can melt like chocolate.
https://lucymcconnell.wordpress.com/ * https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaDymock?fref=ts

Soda Fountain Christmas by Connie E. Sokol Amazon bestselling author
Keira Kenworth has one focus this holiday season: save her father's old-time department store from bankruptcy. She is not focused on Tayton Wells, the tall, dark, and genius marketing guru from downtown New York, hired to make it happen. He is as doubtful that her nostalgic connect-the-town ideas will succeed as she is about his numbers-first plan. However, it's not just their different approaches that cause sparks to fly. Working together on a fast deadline to save the store before Christmas, the unspoken connection between them grows. But will the tough decisions they face drive them back to their separate worlds, or will they lead to the beginning of love?
www.conniesokol.com * https://www.facebook.com/8basics?_rdr=p

Hope for Christmas by Rachelle J. Christensen Amazon bestselling & award-winning author
Anika Fletcher hates Christmas--its promises of good tidings and hope for the future are as tinseled as the ornaments on Kenworth's Hope Tree. Despite her feelings, Anika wants to maintain her daughter's faith in the magic of the season and gladly accepts a second job working with the handsome Carlos Rodriguez to restore Kenworth's old fashioned soda fountain. Carlos is no stranger to hard times and slowly shares his life of light and joy with Anika as they work together. Just as her fragile soul begins to feel hope again, an ill-timed act of charity changes everything. Anika isn't sure who she can trust or if hope is worth nurturing--especially at Christmas when it's easy to enjoy a kiss and believe love can last longer than the season.
www.facebook.com/rachellechristensenauthor * http://rachellechristensen.com/


a Rafflecopter giveaway