Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Love Food

Can you believe it? It's the last day of November. The weeks simply flew. I can't tell you how thankful I am for all of you! It was fun getting to know all of you better. ; ) Well, here is the last Thanksgiving guest blogger: Heather Palmquist is a talented writer I met on Twitter several years ago. In fact, I will always associate a black panther, her avatar at the time, with her. She is also one of the rare Internet friends that I got to meet in person over coffee. (Is there any other way to meet a writerly type person?) Heather is a generous, loving woman with a wicked sense of humor, but I'll let you get to know her yourself.

I love food.

No, I don’t think you understand. I love food. Not only do I love to eat it, I love to shop for it, cook it and even talk about it. And for me, Thanksgiving has always been about just that. Food. Stuffing myself retarded on stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls and pie. Sorry, mom and dad, but family’s just a side note when gravy’s involved.

So imagine my dismay at not being able to keep my Thanksgiving date with my best friend Pauline’s spread of ham, whipped sweet potatoes (nut-free since she nearly killed me last year when she “accidentally” forgot to mention the pecan topping which I’m quite allergic to), more awesome stuff that I blocked out of my mind since I missed out, and her pumpkin crème. Instead, I spent the day in the hospital with an IV full of potassium and some broth. Pauline was kind enough to hold off on making the pumpkin crème until Christmas.

I realize this doesn’t sound like it’s going anywhere near something to be thankful for, but not being able to eat anything other than liquids for the majority of November has actually taught me to be grateful.

I am thankful that my hunger is due to a medical issue and not lack of being able to get food.

Every time my stomach growls, I console myself with thoughts of the pizza or pasta or ham or mashed potatoes or woked asparagus that I am going to gorge myself on once I’m able to eat again. I am mentally planning the dishes I’m going to cook in my yet-to-be-used Crockpot my mom bought me when she was here several weeks ago. And I remind myself that there are people all over the world who do not know where their next meal is coming from, let alone able to remember their last meal. That last one especially now that I’m subsisting on a diet almost solely of Ensure—when did I skip middle age and head straight into SnowBirddom?—is really what keeps me in the land of giving thanks.

This holiday season, I ask that each of you remember what it’s like to be hungry (I’m sure we all have a Top Ramen stage somewhere in our lives) and give to your Community Food Bank. And please keep in mind those who have food allergies, so any canned goods that are gluten-free are especially needed.
As for me, I’m home and trying to stay out of the hospital. Although, come to think of it, at home I have no TV, no one comes and cleans my room for me and no one serves me breakfast, lunch and dinner in bed. Then again, lunch and dinner were consistently becoming pureed chicken in beef broth, so I guess giving up watching marathons of Storage Wars and American Hoggers is a fair trade. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving traditions.

Today, for the next-to-last Thanksgiving post, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Jodie Griffin. Jodie is a talented writer and all around nice person. Her first book, Forbidden Fantasies, releases early next year through Carina Press.

First, I’d like to thank Shawna for sharing her blog space with all of us this month. I’ve really enjoyed reading all the posts.

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday of the year.  Food, family, fun…what more could I ask for?  My house is decorated with pumpkins and turkeys, much to my husband’s dismay. (Although, after fifteen years together, he’s gotten used to it!)

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving had a routine.  Every year, the same thing. Instead of being boring, though, I loved the comfortable sameness of it.  On Thanksgiving morning, we’d get up, and mom would be getting the turkey ready. We’d have the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on TV in the background and be peeling potatoes and making the stuffing to fill the bird.  All day, the house would smell amazing. We’d often have friends over for dinner or dessert, and after we ate, we’d play board or card games.  Then, at night, my mom and I would watch Miracle on 34th Street together, and we’d munch on leftovers.  Those were the days! 

Now, as an adult, things are similar with my own family, although we’ve added some traditions of our own.   We have Wii bowling matches, and there’s usually some movie or another blaring from the family room.  While husbands and kids are doing that, my sister and I scour the store ads for bargains, deciding whether or not it’s worth it to brave the Black Friday crowds (for me, most of the time the answer is “not on your life!”)

One tradition that hasn’t changed is sharing what we’re grateful for. This year, I can add “got my first publishing contract” to my list.  My novella, Forbidden Fantasies, will be published by Carina Press in March 2012.

What traditions have you carried over from your own childhood?  Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope you all enjoy this festive holiday season!

Jodie Griffin   

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why I am More Than Thankful This Year

Besides being a proud wife and mother, Sharon Cullen is the author of numerous romances. Her latest book, Her Dark Knight (Carina Press) is now available for download. You can learn more about Sharon at her website. She’s very active in social media. You can follow her on Twitter or friend her on Facebook.




I’m typing this while at home alone and I’m incredibly thankful for it. That might be weird for some people to hear. Most people don’t like to be alone and, yes, I am one of them. But alone right now means that my husband is at work and six months ago we didn’t know if that was ever going to happen again.

May 9th, 2011 was a warm, almost-summer day. Earlier my husband, our three kids and I, ate dinner on the back deck. After dinner I settled down to read and my husband—never one to sit still for long—decided to go on a bicycle ride with our dog, Winston. Winston is a larger-than-usual black Labrador who has an overabundance of energy. John and Winston have been doing this bike riding/dog running thing for many years. At 6:35pm I received a call from the local EMT’s. To this day we aren’t exactly sure what happened but John had fallen off his bike. He fractured his skull in two places and had to be flown by helicopter to the closest head trauma hospital. He underwent emergency surgery to remove a piece of skull to accommodate the swelling in his brain. He was in a medically induced coma for nine days, in neuro ICU for fourteen days and in a rehabilitation hospital for eleven days. He had to relearn how to walk and he endured hours upon hours of speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy.

On October 3, almost five months to the day of his accident, he returned to work. His doctors and nurses called him a miracle. His recovery far exceeded anyone’s expectations. On October 1st, eighteen weeks after awakening from a coma, he ran his first 5K.

I am incredibly thankful to God for answering the many prayers sent up from family members and strangers. And I am thankful for the woman who saw John fall and called 911 immediately. I’m thankful for the paramedics who rushed him to the hospital, the emergency room doctors who realized the severity of John’s injury and called Air Care right away. I’m thankful for the doctors and nurses on the neuro ICU floor who took such excellent care of John and who were always upbeat and positive. I’m thankful for Lauren, John’s physical therapist and the person who taught him to walk again, and to all of his therapists: Courtney, Stephanie, Allie, Amy I, Amy II, Paige, Jonathon, Karen, Melissa and Lisa. I’m thankful for John’s neuro doctor who understood the importance of John returning to work and who worked tirelessly to get him to that point. I’m thankful to all of our friends who stepped in and held me up when I needed it, who drove our kids to soccer practices and school and back and forth to the hospital. I’m thankful for all of John’s co-workers who waited with me in endless waiting rooms, who walked me to my car late at night, EVERY night. Who cut our grass and did home repairs.

But most of all, I’m thankful for John for working so incredibly hard and for never taking “no” as an answer.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Friends

I first met Jodi Meadows on Twitter where she charmed me with her ferrets and yarn. No, not the story telling type of yarn--although she can to that too--I mean she spins and makes things with it. She is amazing. But what struck me most about her was her sweet nature that shines through every tweet and blog post.

I am quite honored to be able to introduce you to Jodi Meadows.


I am thankful.

I never want to take for granted living in a nice house, having clean water, and knowing where the next meal will come from. I have a good life. A safe life. My needs are met, and I don't know anyone who'd argue that it's important to be thankful for these fundamental things.

Also fundamental, which we might not always remember to count as fundamental, are friends.

I am incredibly grateful for my friends.

My friends give me hope and courage. They make me stronger, smarter, and more compassionate. They laugh at my dumb jokes, make themselves available when I need help. They put up with my yarn pictures and asking of opinions on other yarn things, even though most have no interest in yarning themselves. (Though they certainly like receiving yarny things.)

My friends keep me entertained, and keep me inspired. They know when to tell me I'm being crazy, or not being crazy, and when I need to stop what I'm doing and eat/sleep/play with yarn. They remind me who I am, and who I want to become.

Without my friends, my life would be much different. Sadder. Lonelier. I would not be who I am without the millions of ways they have affected my life.

I am so blessed to have all these people in my life, especially when things are changing so much. They stick by me. They support me. I don't deserve my friends, but I appreciate every moment I'm given with them.

Dear friends: I love you. Thank you for everything.



 

Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a cat, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of INCARNATE. (2012 Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins Publishers) Visit her at www.jodimeadows.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

GRANNY’S LIME GREEN JELLO

 Today you're in for a treat! LOL I think I've said a variation of that all month but it's true! On my blog is Susan Edwards writer of Magic, Myth & Wonder. These are books I can't wait to read. I'm a bit of a recipe hound and I love that her post has a recipe. A granny recipe at that! My favorite kind. Here's Susan!





The topic of Thanksgiving and traditions was a real though-provoking topic for me.  Normally I usually just think of food.  Food and family for this time of the year but no really special traditions.  As a kid, we had Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparents.  My mother’s family gatherings were fairly small, most everyone there were adults so for me and my brothers, it was  mostly about playing (running rather wild outside) and eating lots of food and having pumpkin pie.

My dad’s family was a different story.  He is the second oldest of 13 kids and I the eldest grandchild.  My dad’s youngest 2 brothers were less than 7 years older than I was so as you can imagine, Thanksgiving was chaos!  And I loved it.  Tons of cousins but it was cool to be the eldest, lots of younger uncles to bug and irritate and a couple aunts to admire and look up too (there were only 2 girls).  So at my dad’s, it was about family, lots of family, lots of merriment and food.  And pumpkin pie.

Occasionally, we had dinner at home with the occasional adult guests.  Those celebrations weren’t much different than any other dinner.  Except for the food.    And yes, the pumpkin pie. 

So when I had my children, we switched between 3 households.  My husband’s parent’s had a tradition of getting the tree the day after and taking leftovers with us for a picnic on the beach.  This was cool until allergies put an end to the live trees.  Then they retired and moved away as my own parents did.  Now we were on our own  and it wasn’t that big a day except for the food.  And yes, the pumpkin pie.

In thinking about the traditions of my childhood and what to write, I was quite stumped because there really isn’t a constant tradition aside from lots of food and of course, the pie.  However, I was thinking of what to take to my son’s this year, knowing I’d take a jello salad it hit me.  The one dish we had no matter where we were:  my great-grandmother’s jello salad.  Every  year, we had this wonderful green salad and to this day, I make that same jello salad every year.

The last few years, my children have been taking turns at hosting Thanksgiving dinner and I carry on the tradition and fix Granny’s green salad.  Will my kids carry this tradition on?  I don’t know.  Neither is as enamored of it as I am but then, they don’t have the same association to it as I do.

So even though we don’t have a lot of tradition to this holiday, there is one important tradition and it connects me to my long-gone great grandmother and if that isn’t a wonderful tradition, I don’t know what one is.  Of course, there is always pumpkin pie.

Granny’s Jello Salad
1 sm pkg Lime Jello                          ½ Cup Mayo
1 Cup Cottage Cheese                   1 sm can crushed pineapple
Boil water.  Add 1 cup to the lime jello and dissolve.   Add mayo and mix well.
Add cottage cheese, pineapple & juice.  Poor into bowl, put in refrigerator and let set.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Romances

Cindy Spencer Pape is an avid reader of romance, fantasy, mystery, and even more romance, she firmly believes in happily-ever-after. Married for more than twenty-five years to her own, sometimes-kilted hero, she lives in southern Michigan with him and two grown sons, along with an ever-changing menagerie of pets.  Author of more than 40 books, Cindy has been, among other things, a banker, a teacher, and an elected politician, but mostly an environmental educator, though now she is lucky enough to write full-time. Her degrees in zoology and animal behavior almost help her comprehend the male humans who share her household.

Thanksgiving is a holiday with a lot of history behind it in the United States, but also a lot of history that’s just…wrong. I get a kick out of that in a way. It shows the organic change and development in a society. With a government that’s only a bit over 200 years old and made of a hodge-podge of cultures, it really is kind of fascinating when you ask a handful of people what Thanksgiving means to them and get a dozen different answers,

Almost any school kid knows that the “first” Thanksgiving was celebrated by the pilgrims and the friendly Native Americans after the first successful harvest back in 1621. That much is true—the Plymouth settlers did have a feast with their new neighbors, but that was far from the first such celebration in the Americas. The Spanish had been doing it for a while, as had the Jamestown settlers. In a deeply religious era, this should come as no surprise. Many harvest festivals and days of giving thanks occurred in all the years to follow, but it wasn’t universally acknowledged for centuries. Washington proclaimed one in 1789, and again in 1795. After that, it was a sporadic thing, not taking hold on a permanent basis until Lincoln’s presidency in 1863.

The meal, too has varied over the years, and might not and many of the foods that would have been there—turkey, quite possibly, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and corn are still staples of our holiday fare today. Venison—well, not quite so much, unless you’ve a hunter in the family. Oysters? Only if you’re in New England, or put them in the stuffing. Eels? Lobster? Not so much. Potatoes hadn’t made their way up from Central America yet, and the custardy pumpkin pie wouldn’t come along for years. Thanksgiving traditions became largely regional, with large elements coming from whatever immigrant cultures made up a local population. The Thanksgiving dinner as we know it, really didn’t evolve until the twentieth century—helped along by Norman Rockwell and others who wanted to boost American morale and sense of community during the Depression and World War II.

Other traditions are even newer, but have become a vital part of the day. Football. Parades. The big gear-up for the Christmas shopping season. The religious origins of the holiday are important to some and not so much to others. Many see it as a day to get together and celebrate with family, others find time to relax with friends. Most folks I know agree that no matter your religious beliefs, it’s good to take a day once in a while to think about the positive things in life. While we all have our problems, taking one day to focus on the good can be a badly needed wake-up call.

My own Thanksgiving is low-key. My father will be here with a friend, but no other extended family, so it will just be a turkey dinner (cooked by my amazing husband) for six. There might be a parade, if I turn it on—the others will laugh. There might be football. There will be laughter and time spent together. And that’s all I need.

Thanksgiving romances aren’t all that common, but I’ve managed to sneak the holiday into a couple. One is my most recent release from Carina Press, Motor City Wolf. Another is one of my first erotic romances, a ghost story co-written with author Lacey Thorn, called One Good Man. In the spirit of giving, I’d like to share a free download of whichever of these two books the winner prefers. All you have to do to enter is comment below. I’d love to hear about your own holiday traditions, and if you’re from outside the US, what kind of autumn traditions do you practice? Wishing you all a great deal to be thankful for!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Brit-style


I "met" Joanna Chambers on the Carina author's loop earlier this year and have been impressed with her generosity, dedication and support of her fellow authors. She is one of those women I'd love to met in "real" life. ; ) I am honored to have her on my blog today, which also happens to be my now 11 yo's birthday. 


Being a Brit, the Thanksgiving holiday is something that I know very little about.  I'm familiar with it primarily through American films and TV and books.  The nearest we have in Britain are our harvest festivals.  There's no particular day associated with a harvest festival but it's classic school-concert-fayre (children dressed as potatoes singing songs about grains) and churches go in for it a bit too.  Occasionally random tinned foods are collected from the community and distributed to bewildered pensioners.


There's no official celebration as such though.  The thing is, you see, there are so many other celebrations to deal with at this time of year!  First up, Hallowe'en, which is not traditionally much celebrated in England but that's always been a reasonably big deal in Scotland where I live.  ("Trick or treating" was completely alien to my English husband when kids started doing it over here but I was familiar with its old Scottish cousin, Guising - short for 'disguising').  Of course, Scottish kids don't guise now, and they make pumpkin lanterns instead of the traditional turnip lanterns, which admittedly don't glow nearly as nicely as pumpkin ones and usually result in bits of fingers being sliced off by mistake due to turnips being so tough.

Then there's Bonfire Night (Remember, Remember the fifth of November) which is a big deal both north and south of Gretna Green thanks to the fact that much of British history (sadly) can be summed up as 'protestants and catholics arguing'.  Bonfire Night is, of course, a celebration of the hanging, drawing and quartering of Guy Fawkes who, along with his co-conspirators plotted (but failed) to blow up the Houses of Parliament.  Bonfire Night celebrations features a 'guy' (figure made of old clothes and junk) being burned on a bonfire while fireworks are set off.  Sounds kind of barbaric, doesn't it? 

And then there's the big one: Christmas.  Which is where I slip in, without missing a beat, that my recently released debut novel The Lady's Secret is set in Regency England over Christmas.  (You see what I did there?  How I tied that to Thanksgiving?  God, I'm slick!) 

 Since I adore Christmas, I really enjoyed writing a book set during that time of year, even though traditions were very different in the early nineteenth century.  You can read an excerpt here and buy it here.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My First Thanksgiving Dinner

An award winning actress, singer and stage director, Elise Warner has turned her formidable talents to romantic fiction. She currently lives in New York and we are lucky enough to have her on this blog today!

Here's Elise.

My First Thanksgiving Dinner

      My favorite holiday—Thanksgiving—will be here one week from today and Thanksgiving always conjures up memories of the first dinner I prepared as a newlywed. Parents, hubby’s and mine, gathered in the dining end of the living room and hubby carried the beautifully browned bird to the table. I worried about my mother-in-law’s opinion of my first feast. She had been cooking and baking since she was twelve when her mother passed away and she became the cook for her father, two working older brothers and a younger sister; a job at which she excelled. 
    
  My hubby flourished the knife, stuck the two-pronged fork (a set given as a wedding present) into our first turkey and began to carve. Halfway through dinner I realized I had never removed the giblets or the neck. They were still in the little bag stuck in the cavity. Fortune smiled—no one noticed.

     Asparagus was one of my vegetables. I trimmed the stalks and rinsed but the sand remained. The grains were ignored by all and my loving family valiantly nibbled away—there weren’t too many stalks left on their plates.

     Then there is the tale of my Lasagna. Vegetable Lasagna with Marinara sauce—baked ahead and frozen. Misreading the directions, I baked the dish for one hour and served—the Lasagna was still frozen. I checked the directions. When frozen-bake for two hours. As we celebrate this festival of Thanksgiving, I give thanks for the wonderful parents and in-laws who always supported and encouraged me in whatever I chose to do with my life and never complained of indigestion when they were invited to dinner. 

     To forget about my cooking and learn more about my writing—please log on to my blog at www.elisewarner.blogspot.com, www.twitter.com/elisewarner , and www.Facebook.com/elisewarnerb  I’m also a proud member of Not Your Usual Suspects www.notyourusualsuspects.blogspot.com  

     My cozy, mystery eBook titled Scene Stealer is available at Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes&Noble and wherever eBooks are sold. An audio version has been produced and is offered by www.audible.com 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Giving Thanks

Today I'm proud to introduce fellow Carina Press author Dee J Adams. Dee J Adams writes high speed romance. After dabbling in Hollywood is it any wonder she writes about kick-ass heroines and hunky guys? Dee is a distant neighbor. She's in southern California while I'm smack in the middle, but we share a love of fall color and both know what it's like to prepare for Thanksgiving in short sleeves and flip flops.

Without further nonsense from me, here's Dee!


Thanksgiving Blog


I don’t know about any of you, but for me, the weather plays a large part of Thanksgiving. Living in Southern California, it’s sometimes hard to believe it really is Thanksgiving when it’s eighty-five degrees outside.  I’m lucky that I have three giant trees in the my front yard that shed thousands of beautiful red, yellow and orange leaves so even if the sun is out and it’s blazing hot, I can count on my trees to tell me the season.

But on to Thanksgiving… I am a very fortunate gal and take this time of year to really reflect on the fact that I have a loving husband, a beautiful daughter and two happy dogs. I used to think that money would make me happy – and don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind not having to worry about the monetary part of life – but as I’ve gotten older, I realize it’s the relationships in life that count the most. It’s about the people you love and having that love returned.

I remember one Thanksgiving many years ago when my husband cooked a turkey for fifteen or twenty people. (I’ll admit, I’m not much of a cook) It may not sound like a big thing, except that my husband is a vegetarian. I’ll never forget that turkey and the fact that my husband worked so hard to make it perfect for our friends even though he wouldn’t have a bite of it. Now that’s love.

This year I’m grateful for so much more… grateful for the fact that after so many years of writing, I finally have a published novel, Dangerous Race (and Danger Zone coming out in another couple of months).  This will be my first Thanksgiving with a book out and you can bet I’ll be the first at the table to count my blessings.

What about you? What are you grateful for?

Dangerous Race - Life in the fast lane can be deadly

Dee J. Adams

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gratitude

Today I get to introduce the talented Cathy Perkins. Cathy is blogging today about something near to my heart! Cathy is also very patient and understanding as I kinda dropped the ball on this one. Without further ado, here's Cathy.

Thanks Shawna, for inviting me to participate in your month of Thanksgiving. I’ve enjoyed all the stories. As I read personal memories and met wonderful characters, I've realized how much I have to be grateful for: family and friends; health; veterans of current and historic wars; and for all of its problems, I'm grateful that I live in America. But today, I'd like to focus on something the Carina Press authors share – the writing community.

The dictionary defines community as a social group whose members reside in a specific location, share government, and often have a common cultural and historic heritage. But for me, community is about people – people who share more than a location or heritage; people who share a passion.

My community includes both the critique partner I meet at the library each week and writers across the country—and the world—who I’ve met through this shared passion. Maybe because writers share the struggle to create and publish our work, we understand each other’s highs and lows: the triumph of recognition, the pain of rejection, the satisfaction of a well-written chapter, and the insecurity of staring at a white page. We encourage and support when someone wants to talk about their story – and never roll our eyes or call what we're doing our "hobby".  

As a group, I’ve found writers are incredibly generous with their time and talent, as well as their financial resources. There are authors such as Brenda Novak, who create renown fundraising auctions for juvenile diabetes, as well as ones such as fabulous Carina author Julie Rowe, who donated 15% of her royalties from her recent novel to the same charity. Both Brenda and Julie are wonderful examples of people who use their talent and position for the good of the greater community.

Sharing can also occur closer to home. Every year at the Emerald City conference, Cherry Adair throws down the Finish The Damn Book challenge - create a story from original idea to squeaky clean, polished manuscript. In addition to periodic Pep Talks, Cherry also generously offers financial rewards. This year, she raised the bar by convincing agents and editors to review partial manuscripts. Cherry has her own writing, her own family and friends, but she takes time to reach out to the writers behind her and help them along.

I barely know where to begin expressing my personal gratitude. So many people have helped and encouraged me along my path to publication—and the Carina authors generously offer explanations and advice to confused debut authors like me.

So the challenge became for me to find ways to give back to the writing community. I volunteer as a chapter officer and a coordinator for the Daphne du Maurier contest, but I think I’ve drawn the most pleasure from teaching and watching my critique partner grows from a puddle of possibility to published author.

That’s the important part of Thanksgiving for me – sharing in whatever form presents itself.
Whether it’s a seat at the dinner table or the metaphoric place at the table of publishing, reach out and make the offer.

I have several questions for you today:
How do you define your writing community?
Are there individuals who are your role models?
What are you doing to give back and say thanks to that community?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Here’s hoping you find your place at the table and invite a new friend to share it with you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving History

Veronica Scott is a fellow Carina Press author. Not only do we share a love of romance, but also a  love of history--and research.  Both of these talents are evident in her post today. Veronica's novel, Priestess of the Nile, releases in January of 2012.


Here's Veronica!

As one of the themes of Thanksgiving, we have the quintessential romance story, with a chaste love triangle. Poor orphaned Priscilla Mullins (my ancestress, thank you but we’ll get to that in a minute), sought after by gruff old Captain Miles Standish, recent widower. Miles is not a dab hand at woman-attracting prose so he enlists his friend John Alden, he of the silver tongue. Ah but guess who John loves? The young Mr. Alden,  my other ancestor, dutifully went and began reciting the beautiful speech he’d written, ostensibly for his friend Miles (but my guess is John poured his own heart out in the speech and that’s what made it so compelling).
Mistress Mullins stopped him and said in her best Pilgrim demure fashion, “Prithee, John, speak for yourself.”  Really, what self respecting heroine of a modern day romance novel wouldn’t have done the same? And John didn’t have to be asked twice apparently. HEA ensued, complete with ten – maybe eleven – children.

Everyone knows the story, right?  

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I’ve always taken a special interest in the whole Miles Standish – John Alden- Priscilla Mullins love story because (a) I like romance and love stories and (b) I’m descended from them.  (My mother was a die hard genealogist before it was popular – don’t ask!)  The relationship was a special point of pride for me as a child. I even got to play Priscilla in the third grade Thanksgiving pageant, with a pale blue bonnet that was amazing in its historical inaccuracy.  I remember nothing else of the costume so the dress was probably more authentically Pilgrimlike and boring than the hat.

Clarence Somebody played my John Alden but I had a crush on Henry S., who played Miles. Clearly I wanted to rewrite history in our little pageant, as well as wearing that to-die-for-bonnet. Unfortunately my third grade teacher was a hard liner and we went with the original plot. Clarence and I presided over the feast (chocolate milk and cookies) while the rakish Henry was off teasing Debbie B, my rival. Priscilla didn’t have these problems! She appears to have been a woman of unusual gumption for the 1600’s and probably would have ended up with Henry, were she in my sneakers.

OK, flash forward to adulthood. I now know there are approximately 1,000,000 descendants of Mr. and Mrs. Alden living today. (One of their daughters married one of Captain Standish’s sons – sequel material there!) There are actually 10,000,000 living descendants of the entire Mayflower passenger list.  So you and you and you may be just as descended from them as I am.  I clearly wasn’t as cool and unique as I thought in third grade.

The idea of taking a day to stop and give thanks for what we have remains a happy thing, even 380+ years later, in my case, or whenever Thanksgiving or its equivalent holiday falls on the calendar in your part of the world! Best wishes to you and yours in November!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Simple Things


Today, you're in for a treat. Let me introduce Kari Dell, one of the wittiest people I know, and that's saying something. Not only is she extremely talented (she's represented by the Shark, herself!) she's honestly one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. And I can almost hear her choking on her soda.

If you want to know a little more about Kari, Montana, and the real life of a cowgirl, you really need to read her blog, Montana For Real. 

Without further ado, here's Kari.



Well howdy, y’all!

Or maybe just Hi, since I’m a ranch girl from northern Montana and not central Texas and we don’t so much drawling around here. How far north, do you ask? Well, these are our cows and this is our pasture:


And that spindly little barbed wire fence is the Canadian border. So, yeah, north, and just east of Glacier National Park. Almost mile high altitude here at home place, which means I have a lot of space and very fresh air and some pretty freaking spectacular views. And snow. Lots and lots and lots of snow. But let’s not talk about that, cuz I’m still in denial that it could dump on me any day. As in Friday, if the weatherman has a clue.

Our ranch is fairly remote, an hour drive from the nearest town, which also happens to be where I work. Every. Single. Day. Monday through Friday. A hundred and ten mile round trip commute. Did I mention every single day? With that much time to think, I can churn up a pretty good pout from time to time. Poor me. Driving so far. Working so hard. No time to write. Or train my horses. Or play with my poor neglected child. Or wallow in self pity.

Oh, right. I can do that last one while I drive.

Last April I had talked myself into a pretty good funk. In addition to work and the usual cold, snow and morning to night to middle of the night toil of calving out a couple hundred cows, I was helping put together a local event called Montana Storytelling Roundup. It was not going well. Our committee was way behind on everything having suffered a broken ankle, the loss of a father and the critical illness of a grown son. Then, only days before the big event, one of the founding members died suddenly of a cardiac aneurysm.

Yep, I was dragging pretty low in the ol’ wagon rut.

One of my jobs was to pick up and transport our cowboy singer/songwriter to performances at two local high schools, and towns being some distance apart around here we had plenty of time to chat. Brenn told me about his son, Briggs. Four years old. A cancer survivor. For two years Brenn had put a promising music career mostly on hold while Briggs endured surgery for a massive brain and spinal cord tumor. Chemotherapy. A stem cell transplant. Hours and hours of painful physical therapy that will go on for years due to the nerve damage from the tumor and the treatment to get rid of it. All with the knowledge that this particular form of cancer has a high rate of recurrence.

And Brenn was thankful.

Thankful that the tumor had been discovered early enough for treatment. That he lives just outside of Salt Lake City, where some of the best cancer treatment facilities in the world are located. That the community of singers and songwriters of which he is a part had gone to great lengths to support him and his family, emotionally and financially.

That his son is home and able to sit astride a horse again.

Yep, those are the moments that really kick a person in the ass, aren’t they? And you’re feeling sorry for yourself, why? I try to remember people like Brenn and his family when I start sliding into a self-indulgent mope. And since this blog post is about being thankful, I decided to swipe a song from Brenn that says pretty much everything I need to say on the subject (um, other than these previous three or four hundred words).

Along with some awesome music, I give you the things in my life that I am thankful for. All of these pictures were taken either on our ranch or within an hour’s drive, and each one highlights a very specific something that means a lot to me. (Bet you wish I was ambitious enough to put captions on them, huh? Sorry. Maybe next time.)

So, yeah. My life. It doesn’t suck.


You can read Brenn’s full story at his website, http://www.brennhill.com We can’t cure the world, but if you’d like to help one little boy on the road to recovery, you can lend a hand while treating yourself to some darn good music. Brenn’s full song catalog is available for download at Amazon. I am particularly fond of Monster on Your Back, With a Whisper, and Fall Coming On. If you like your music with a sense of humor, check out Buckaroo Tattoo and Hell on Yer Women. And for pure storytelling, you can’t beat The Ballad of Ed Cantrell 


Download here


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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Very Jinxie Thanksgiving

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to one of my favorite nocturnal people. No really, folks, Jinxie is going to bed a few hours before others wake up. She's a talented writer, an editor and produces her own magazine. Yup, she's busy. If you haven't already, I'd so recommend following her adventure as she tries out online dating. She has some awesome dating tips.

Here's Jinx (also known as NL Gervasio) 

Many years ago, I spent the holiday with my mom's side of the family. Umi, my brother and I would head out to Black Canyon City where my grandparents lived, meeting my aunt, uncle and cousin out there, and whoever else decided to show up. I always enjoyed it when my other aunt could make it down from Colorado with her family because we rarely got to see them until they moved back to Arizona. It made for a pretty full house in my grandparents' tiny two bedroom home.
Back when my grandfather was alive, Thanksgiving Day was filled with the aroma of a giant turkey baking in the oven, football on the television, and lots of loud laughter inside and outside of the house. We're a loud bunch when we'd get together. Still are at times; just a smaller bunch.
Dinner included:
A 25-lb. turkey
Mashed potatoes
Corn
Cranberry sauce
Rolls – the brown and serve kind
Gravy
Cherry pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie (homemade, of course)

The television would stay on during dinner so we could watch the game, and after dinner, about an hour before dusk, half of us would take a walk down to the river to work off the delicious meal. One time in particular, I got to see the horses running along the river. It was a seriously magical moment and beautiful sight to see, and is probably one of my favorite holiday memories.
It's these memories that I'm thankful for; having the chance to grow up with this part of my family, who spoiled us not with material things, but with love. Being loved was never a question in my mind with them.
Christmas was even better because that meant spending the night and having the Waltons cavalcade of goodnights filter through the house.
I'm thankful for having such a wonderful and supportive family, who loved me during my punk phase, even if they were embarrassed, and who always treated me with respect and encouraged my dreams.
Because that's what family does.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families, or whoever you choose to share your holidays with.

NL Gervasio
"Jinxie G"



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Counting My Blessings

Today I get to introduce you to an author who writes on the spicier side! Hunter Raines holds an Honors B.A. in English Literature, and is the author of numerous short stories and novellas. When she's not working or writing, she can be found curled up in her library of more than four thousand books, or playing video games with her husband. She also shares my love of crafting supplies, although I think she puts her's to better use!  Find her on her website, Twitter, and Facebook, or join her Yahoo Group.

Here's Hunter!

First things first: I’m grateful to Shawna Thomas for giving me the opportunity to be here today. Thanks, Shawna!

I didn’t grow up with a Thanksgiving holiday. I was born in Romania, where Thanksgiving is as foreign as Halloween. But then we moved to North America (the U.S. first, then later, Canada, where I still am today.)

Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving the second Monday of October, so I’ve already had my family gatherings and my fill of turkey and pumpkin pie. But I’m glad to have another opportunity to reflect on the things I’m thankful for this year.

I could come up with a very, very long list of items, but I thought I’d focus on the most important:

1.       My family. I’m blessed with an amazingly supportive husband and parents. They might not always understand why I talk to my characters aloud, or spend 10 hours a day cooped up in my office, often forgetting to eat lunch. But they love me, and they indulge my odd habits. What more could I ask for?

2.       My health. I’ve had a couple of health scares recently that made me spend a lot of time thinking about what’s really important in life. Am I making the most of each day, each hour, each minute? Am I spending as much time with the people I love as I possibly can? I’ve got a follow-up medical test scheduled in December, and I’m hoping for another all-clear. In the meantime, I’m enjoying life to the fullest.

3.       My job. I quit my day job in March of this year, and now I get to write full time for a living. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to live my dream, each and every day. I try not to lose sight of that when I sit down at the computer, and I hope to never take my ability to do what I love for granted.

I’d love to hear from you. What are the most important blessings in your life?



Monday, November 7, 2011

New Traditions

Hello everyone,

Today I have the pleasure of introducing Jason Myers. What can I say about Jason? LOL I first met Jason on Twitter about two years ago. (Is that right, Jason?) Since then, I've had the privilege of critiquing several of his books and so know first hand that he's a talented writer. He's also one of those all-around good guys that are rare and few between. But you'll see that for yourselves. Here's Jason:


Happy Thanksgiving, friends

Not sure how many families do this, but my wife and I every year either go to my mother’s house or her mother’s house. We flip-flop to be fair. It’s tradition. It’s in stone. It’s just how things are done.

For the past few years, my wife has wanted to do the dinner at our house.  She’s wanted to cook the dinner, prepare the dishes—you know, Thanksgiving! But alas, the mothers don’t give in easily. Each year, she would approach either mine or hers (depending on whose year it was) and throw the idea out there that she was considering having it at our house.

Well, she did this while we were eating the dinner, and at the time, the mothers were beaten from all the cooking and the preparing. So their reactions were generally positive, because they were freaking tired and beat and just wanted it over.

However, as the years passed by, whenever she mentioned it closer to the time…the mother always seemed to forget. (Wait. Let me retype that. They “forgot”.) And we ended up having it at their homes. So my wife would smile and eat her turkey, wishing she could have it at our home. She was upset because she thought she would never get her turn until she was old and too tired to want to do it.

But this year, her mother acquiesced. We’re having it at our house. And since we are, we’ve got to plan. As in, more than a meal. Like, the entire freaking house has to be redone. We’re completely re-painting our kitchen our den and living rooms. And we got all new furniture. Yeah. All new furniture. For all three rooms. That’s before spending a nickel on the food. This is going to be one seriously expensive dinner.

So I’m kinda scared about how much the freaking meal is going to cost us. My wife wants to go all out since it’s her first year. Oh, and of course, she’s going to need my help. So I am getting dragged into this whole thing.

This is going to be insane. Wish me luck, people.


Friday, November 4, 2011

With a Song in My Heart (or somewhere)

Oh you are in a for a treat today! Let me introduce the witty and talented Kay Keppler, author of Betting on Hope. Kay lives with me in California, but it's a big state and so we've never met in person. Maybe one day. Without further ado, here's the very talented Kay!

What am I thankful for? I wanted to write something profound. I’m so lucky in so many ways. I have great parents, a good education that I didn’t have to go into debt for. I have my health and my work. Friends and family.

And...blah, blah, blah. I’m thankful for those things, sure. Absolutely. But I wanted to be more specific.

I thought about my life. I watched the news. I wondered: What are our aspirations? Are we more thankful for things we work to get? Or things that are given to us? Or events we have no control over?

And you know what else I thought of? That song from the Sound of Music. You know the one I mean: Raindrops on roses. Right, that one.

I want to say up front I’ve never much liked this movie. It’s just too scrubbed for me. And I don’t much like that song, either, for the same reason. I’m more of a Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin kind of gal. But once I’d started to think about what I was thankful for, I just couldn’t get this song—My Favorite Things, the raindrops one—out of my head. All week long, it’s been running through my brain. And when you don’t much like the movie, and you don’t much like the song, well, it’s been a bad week for thankful. Not so much thankful now, no sir-ee.

But I kind of like old Maria’s take on life. She appreciated the small things (those dang raindrops). She lived in the moment (the doorbells). She liked color (the bright copper kettles) and bad weather (the raindrops, the snowflakes), and, of course, she was a sensualist, she liked presents (brown paper packages tied up with strings).

So with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein, here are a few of my favorite things. A few things, among very many, that I’m thankful for.

Chocolate and cashews and ripe avocados
Wool socks and seeing the Dickeyville Grotto
Old dusty books with their spines torn apart
These are the things that are close to my heart.

Hard contact lenses and exit row seating
Tampons and Advil and pain that is fleeting
Comfortable shoes and adjustable chair
These are the things that I simply can’t spare.

Phone conversations with friends close and distant
Lunches and dinners with folks real insistent
Tax refunds after I file my forms late
These are the pleasures that never abate.

When life cheats me
And defeats me
Forget what makes me glad—
I drink down a shot of my favorite gin
And then I don’t feel so bad.



Thursday, November 3, 2011

Giving Thanks

 Hi everyone,

Today I have the privilege of introducing Angela Campbell.  Angela Campbell is a fellow Carina Press author and a talented writer. Her book, “Cry Wolf,” is available wherever e book are sold and is on my top five must read books. Every time I read a snippet, it moves up. Angela is also a very generous person, always ready with a congratulations or good job to her fellow authors.  Find out more about her and her book at www.angelacampbellonline.com.

Here's Angela!

First of all, I’d like to think Shawna for allowing me to be a guest here today. And if you haven’t read her book “Altered Destiny” yet, go buy it, now — hurry! It’s terrific!
When Shawna announced she’d like to feature a month-long blog campaign of authors expressing their thanks, I was all over that like ink on paper! I’ve always been a firm believer that everyone is blessed in some way, no matter how down on his luck she is or what hardships she faces.
I’ve certainly had my fair share of negative experiences. I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was 12. Hardest thing I ever had to face. I lost my best friend’s mother (my second mom) to breast cancer years later. I could go on and on about the other people and pets I’ve lost or my money woes, etcetera, etcetera. But I try not to walk around dwelling on the negative. I know there are far too many people walking around with much heavier burdens than mine!
I prefer, instead, to count my blessings — and I have many.
As Thanksgiving approaches, what am I thankful for? Would it sound silly if I said everything? Even those bad experiences have benefited me in some way. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family, and I wouldn’t trade the friends I have for anything. It all has made me a stronger person and, dare I hope, a better writer?
When I’m writing a story, I plot a moment I call the hero (or heroine’s) epiphany. You know — that moment we all have at some point where we make an important decision about something. Usually, for romance writers, it’s the moment where our stubborn hero realizes he can’t live without the heroine, or vice versa. As for me, I’ve had many head-smackin’, D’oh! epiphanies in my lifetime. There’s one that stands out above most though.
I was 15, depressed and still missing my mom. Then one of my brothers announced he and his wife were pregnant. Wow, I was 15, and going to be an aunt. I mean, how weird.
But as my sister-in-law grew more pregnant, I felt hope bloom in my chest again. Wow, I was going to be an aunt. Pretty soon there would be a little kid running around, and I very much wanted to be a part of that kid’s life.
I prayed every night that the baby would be a girl, even though the male gene was predominant in our family. I can’t even remember why I so badly wanted a niece rather than a nephew. Everyone kept telling me, “Don’t get your hopes up, Angie. It’s probably going to be a boy.”
The day finally came, and my father picked me up from school with the news the baby had been born. And it was a girl!
As I stood in the hospital peering through the nursery glass, squinting and trying to figure out which wrinkled pink-blanketed baby was ours, I made a vow that I would never dwell on the negative again. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone anymore. I secretly like to think that my niece was God’s little gift to me, to remind me that life is too precious and too short not to see the beauty in it. And maybe even a reminder that He is up there, listening when we need Him most.
For the last 21 years (gah, I’m old), my niece and I have been BFFs, and my brother even blessed me with a nephew I adore along the way, too. Now my niece also wants to be a writer, possibly inspired by the fact that her crazy aunt who has been struggling years to get published finally did.
And oh yeah, I’m pretty grateful for that too!
So now that I’ve overshared waaay too much for one blog post, feel free to overshare back! What are you most thankful for, and why? ‘Tis the season to be thankful, after all!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall, Thanksgiving, Memories ...

I have the privilege of introducing you all to the Awesome, Crystal Posey. (And no, that wasn't a typo. Awesome and Crystal are synonymous, so capital and comma) ; )

A talented writer, Crystal is one of my biggest cheerleaders, meaning she knows when and how to kick me in my rear to get me motivated. She is my web-mistress *Ker Thwack* (sound of whip?) I have her to thank for all the loveliness that is my blog and website. She is the mother to 6 children, a devoted wife and a homeschooler. Yes, she's busy.  My husband is forever telling me I should send her chocolate. He knows us. ; ) Okay, without further nonsense from me. Here's Crystal.

I am not a cook. Not by a long shot. So what I'm sharing today is not a delicious recipe. Thanksgiving might be all about the food, but trust me when I say that you do not want me to give you a recipe. It's just as likely that I'll leave out the most important ingredient as it is that I can set a tea bag on fire (True story!). However, I will share with you what means the most to me during this time of year.

Alabama is magnificent during the fall. It's warm, vibrant, and there is almost always a breeze that sets the temperature just right for open windows. Taking a walk might as well be a trip to the best spa in the country. It provides a feeling of serenity and reflection, and it sticks with you like a heart warming memory does.

I don't have many memories from my childhood. There was a time when this made me incredibly sad, but since I started building my own family, nearly ten years ago, that doesn't happen anymore. Rather, the fact that I don't have memories makes creating them for my children all the more important. And what better time to build memories and new traditions than during Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving, fall, memories … for me they all go hand in hand. While I love building new memories throughout the entire year, there is something about this season that intensifies the meaning. There is nothing I adore more than creating memories for my children. When life tries to crush their spirit, it's going to be those memories that will remind them, not only of who will be there for them, but of the laughter and joy life gives.

Happy Thanksgiving