Monday, December 30, 2013

Eden's Charms ~ Amazon Exclusive Release Dec, 27th 2013

Eden's Charms ~ Amazon Exclusive Release Dec, 27th 2013 By Jaclyn Tracey

Hello, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you from one of the happiest paranormal romance authors on the planet. My 3rd novel, Eden's Charms, has hit the airways. Or electronic circuit to be politically correct through Kindle, courtesy of The Wild Rose Press and my editor Callielynn Wolfe.

Eden's Charms is the 3rd book in the series, Eden. Her heat level is SPICEY... Feel free to use your imagination as to what that entails, or better yet, order the book and find out for your self :)

Eden's Charms introduces you to Savanah St. James, a little enchantress/anthropologist who unearthed Dracula's lair. She had it all set to be part of a museum exhibit until a few unforeseen things happened.
Savanah is Jovan and Andrè St.James's (Eden's Sins) daughter. Ethan Kitt is the one man on the planet she finds she can't live without, no matter how hard she tries.

Here is an interview the two of them shared. It's a damn shame Barbara Walters missed the opportunity to meet these two characters before she called it quits.

Savanah: Hey, nice to meet you. I'm Savanah St. James.

JT: Hi Savanah. Tell us a little about yourself.

Savanah: Let me see where can I start? I see dead people. (She snorts) No really I do. All day. My entire family, well most of them, are playing post mortem games. The other half are either howling at the full moon or all standing around a cauldron drinking wine and casting spells, which is never a good thing, drinking and casting spells that is. My Aunt Serina, goddess I hope she doesn't read this, can't spell to save her life. Me? I'm into digging up the dead and displaying them. Just got the catch of a lifetime. Found Dracula's lair. Then I lost it. Stolen really, and in the mean time I met the man of my mother's dreams. She didn't bother telling me the nightmares that accompanied him. I have a few special powers. I have the ultimate green thumb. And I can knock you flat on your keister and erase your memory in the blink of an eye. Wanna see?

JT: Seriously no, I have enough trouble with my memory thanks. You sound busy and possibly carry a death wish around. Dracula? His lair?

Savanah: My beloved is the one with the death wish. You'll meet him soon enough. Once he's done primping. He is a cute rogue but he spends more time in the bathroom than I do. As for Drac, we're on a first name basis now. It happens like that. Ya steal something from some insane world renown vamp and the little pest comes and takes a chunk out of you. He is a handsome sod though. Not at all what you'd expect for being so old. Got all his teeth and then some. He's just a bit heartless on occasion, but really, who isn't?

JT: Tell me how you met your hero. What were your first thoughts?

Savanah: Dear goddess, don't let Ethan hear you call him that, a hero. It'll go straight to his head, both for that fact. Ethan and I first met at the airport. He rolled over my toes with his suitcase and never apologized.When our eyes met, he was beautifully arrogant. The 2nd time we met he had some tart and I use the term loosely, on his side and he tried to dump her and pick me up. My father and uncle had some fun at his expense.

JT: And how did that work out?

Savanah: The fool kissed me and I passed out in his arms. He'll never let me live that down. Swooning at his feet. So pathetic on my part. So anyways, the next time I meet him it just gets worse. He's at my home trying to kidnap a baby he thought my Aunt Raven had, but my aunt Raven was not pregnant. From here our would-be romance got put on the back burner. Hell broke out literally. We had vamps dropping in from a century past trying to get vengeance on our family for beheading and de-hearting one of theirs when I was three years old. Crap, did I just let on to my age? Anyway, people hold onto some serious grudges. My exhibit got kiboshed because all of Drac's artifacts were stolen. Serina's mom showed up. She was the one person we cast off the island never wanting to let her back in. In fact my uncle Julian vowed it was her heart for ours, but... when you're the most magical mage in the world and you need some life-saving out of body help, you don't call the Ghost Busters. You call her. Hello Olivia.

JT: I'm intrigued. Tell me, what is the one trait about Ethan you fell head over heels in love with.

Savanah: His sincerity coupled with his humor. He is genuine. He can swing my moods from a chandelier to a pendulum and I'll love him into the next life or two. And did I mention he's seriously the most gorgeous man alive? Blond curly hair, mischievous light green eyes and a tattoo that only I get to see, unless he's caught streaking through the house. He swayed an entire house of haters after the kidnapping debacle to people covering his back including his biggest rival. my mom. The thing is my mom scryed after years, I really won't give up my age, but she was worried I'd never meet Mr. Right. Then Mr. Wrong knocked down our door and here we are... about to go on tour :)

JT: What's the most romantic thing he's done for you?

Savanah: I liked our night in New Orleans. I woke up in his arms after being drugged by Drac in a horse-drawn carriage. I'd never been on a date to a movie theatre before and we went and ate popcorn and made out and then got kicked out, but it was the best night of my life. No, make that the second best night.

JT: What was the first?

Savanah: The night Drac and I met for a drink and exchanged gifts.

JT: If and when Mr. Kitt ever comes out the bathroom what do you think he'd say your favorite past time is?

Savanah: Really? He's a man. He has three thinks that motivate him and not necessarily in any order or at any one given time. Food. Me and you can guess the last one. This book isn't given a SPICEY rating for nothing.

JT: What's one thing you don't see eye to eye on?

Savanah: Love. He won't let me tell him how I feel. Says if I do tell I love him, which I do, something crummy will happen. So instead I find ways to show him. Many ways :)

JT: I'm liking this guy, kidnapper or not. What's the one he said to you that you'll never forget?

Savanah: That he would die saving me. He kept his word. My eyes are misting. I need to go get him out of the bathroom. Excuse me?

Ethan entered the room with a look of concern and leaned into my face.

Ethan: Hi. Why is my lady crying? Did you say something to upset her?

JT: Hi Ethan. No. Savanah and I were talking and she became emotional over your past. She's fine. It's a a pleasure to meet you. In the few seconds I've known you, you're meeting and surpassing all my expectations. Savanah was right.
Ethan sat down, his look a little more relaxed. Almost curious.

Ethan: What did she say?
He bit at his bottom lip with those green eyes gleaming.

JT: You can read about it later. Tell me about yourself.

Ethan: Hmm... Not much to tell really. I believe in Santa, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy and the great pumpkin. I got turned into a werewolf a few years ago and met a vamp who gave me the world but tried to steal my soul. He just so happened to be the one vamp on the planet that Savanah's family executed his son so there was a slight grudge match going on behind the scenes that I knew nothing of until, he sent me on a mission to steal a baby, his grandson, but instead I met a babe. Not quite the same thing is it? I was doing the happy dance. He was stomping to a tune all of his own that put Jack and the beanstalk's grumpy giant to shame when he tossed a hissy fit once he found his beans stolen. From the moment I met Savanah I traded a woman in every port to one woman in my heart. Trouble seems to follow me. What did Savanah say?

JT: That you were a curious boy.

Ethan: Boy?

JT: Sorry, man. What is the first thing you recall when you first laid eyes on Savanah? Was it her remarkable bluish black eyes? Her jet-black curls? Her smile?

Ethan: That my life as I knew it was over. She had a great team and by that I mean---(Ethan produced a grin to melt my heart and cupped under his chest where breasts would be)--But they were covered up by a teeshirt sporting the Evil Empire. I am a die-hard Boston kinda boy. Her and me in a baseball stadium, watch out. The second time I saw her she knocked me flat on my butt, or her father and uncle did. Those three together pack some wicked kryptonite.

JT: What's the one trait about her you adore?

Ethan: Her ability to see the best in a person regardless of their past. Her nonjudgemental compassion. Without I'd be buried in her back yard without a marker. Isn't it amazing how stupid you can be and yet still live? I'd be lost without her.

JT: What's the most romantic thing she's done for you?

Ethan: Died. Gone to hell and back. Literally and figuratively. Made a deal with the devil or as close as one comes to him.

JT: Is there any one thing you love to do together?

Ethan turns a blazing shade of red.
Ethan: She loves to get a hold of my joy stick and see how high she can get us. JT, your jaw dropped. And by joy stick I mean the controls to my plane. You, my dear, had your mind in the gutter. I'm a pilot.
He winked.

JT: I knew that. (I winked back.) Is there any one thing the two of you don't agree on?

Ethan: Dracula. I don't find the mosquito handsome at all. She thinks he's to die for and I hate it when she says that. Petrified she just might.

JT: Is there any one thing she ever said to you that you'll never forget?

Ethan: That we never stood a chance and to forget she ever existed. Lucky for her I have selective hearing :)

Savanah walked back into the room.

JT: I'd like to thank the two of you for your time today. What are you plans from here?

Savanah: I don't know. What do you think Pinky?

Ethan: Well Brain, we got up rather early to do this interview. We should probably go back to bed for a while....
Ethan once again winked at me and then grabbed Savanah's hand and left without another word.

A small snippet from the book, Eden's Charms:

Ethan shifted halfway down the path to the stables thinking he could outsmart, out run, overpower this man. Not happening. Simply put, Ethan had been outdone on all levels. The mold for werewolves was cast from Julian.
From Ethan’s vantage this scenario continued to spiral downhill. Getting dragged by the scruff of his neck to the tack room was the icing on the cake or so he thought until Julian secured him to an old wooden beam with a silver chain, and wrangled a loose muzzle on him. Panic escalated to level orange when Julian dug up as many syringes as he could muster then spread them out on a tattered, dusty horse-hair covered blanket. Nothing aseptic in these urine soaked walls.
“No freaking way you’re poking me with those things.”
“Good to know the wolf has evolved to communication in both life forms.”
Julian winked, but it wasn’t a warm, mischievous blink like the ones Ethan doled out. Ethan realized there and then Julian was probably more of a cold-blooded beast than the Maestro.
Both Jovan and Savanah sneezed in unison when they entered the musty barn. “Here’s the mixture. Who’s it for?” Savanah dabbed her nose with a tissue, searching. “Oh my, I don’t miss this place.”
Recognition of one angelic voice had Ethan crank his large head in the direction of freedom, the sliding stable door.

Taken aback seeing Ethan, she approached him with caution. “We meet again. You got all dolled up for me? Nice coat! I must say you have a definite angle at getting to know people.”
“Yeah, you’ll never forget this will you?” Ethan sat on his haunches and bat his light green puppy eyes at her.
“I don’t think I’ll let you forget it either.” She smirked.
“Savanah! I know your name!”
“Ethan, I’m not Rapunzel. And I sure as hell won’t let my hair down for you.”
Ethan’s nose twitched as he watched Savanah hand her father a glass flask with a bluish concoction gurgling without the need for flames. Steam rose, and sweetened the air with a mixture of juniper, peppermint oil, rue, violets and raspberries.
Savanah passed another flask under Ethan’s nose to which he grimaced. The second flask contained a burnt amber gel. “And yes, it is what you’re thinking. It is my very own sweet and sour sauce.” She didn’t need to read his mind. The look on his face said everything. She ran her fingertips across his blond fur, then rubbed behind his ears.
“Lower sweets—the itch is much lower,” Ethan countered.
Savanah picked up a horsewhip, and cracked it. “Still itch?”
“Woman, I love the way you think.” Ethan growled at her through the muzzle.
Picking up one the syringes her uncle had laid out, she aimed it at his back leg, daring him, without words.
In his sternest tone, André shouted, “Savanah!” She jumped and the syringe went sailing like a dart just missing Ethan.
“That was close.” Savanah bent over and got in his face. “Next time I won’t miss.”
“Hahaha!” Ethan added, sarcasm laced.
“What have I told you about becoming infatuated with creatures we have to put down?”
“Papa!” Her free hand atop her hip, she huffed a giant curl from her view. “Why can’t I keep him? You always kill off the cute ones. Always!” Savanah turned away from Ethan wearing a smile her orthodontist would have appreciated. “I never freakin’ get to have any fun.”
Although this type of teasing him wasn’t a bad way to spend the night. For a brief moment Savanah’s fantasies stole her and the wolf far away from her family where it would be just the two of them, her as Red Riding hood and Ethan, the big bad wolf chasing her, catching her, and devouring her in a completely sensual, erotic frenzy—tongue, teeth, fingers, penis…. The whole nine yards—ah…make that inches and yes, it was bigger than her pinky!
Happy dance time was moments away.
She wanted to make love to him, show him feelings she had no words for, only deep seeded desires. She wanted him to leave her breathless, exhausted under him. She needed his warm flesh against hers hard and fast. Savanah looked at Ethan and for a minute panicked he’d been able to read her mind. She broke out in a cool mist. Crap, I inhaled my own freaking concoction.
Ethan stared at Savanah, tongue flopped over the side of his mouth, with lethal picturesque choppers showing through.
“You’re drooling, Mr. Kitt.” Savanah pointed to his lips. “Quite the set of dents you got there.” The second the words rolled from her lips, she knew somehow he’d take full advantage of the opportunity.
“All the better to eat you with, my dear.” His tail thumped in the dirt and left him in a smutty cloud.
Rancor saturated Jovan’s voice. “Why is that thing still breathing?”
Smothered by her mother’s tenor, Savanah’s saucy dream ended up watered down. Her mother was piping hot.
André answered, “We were waiting for you, Cherié.”
“Hold up a second…” Ethan barked. “Are you really going to kill me?”
Everyone answered a collective, “Yes.”
“If I talk?”
“Yes.” Jovan hissed.
“Probably.” Julian weighed his hands like a balanced scale.
“If I give you names and places?”
“We’ll see.” André.
“What do you want?”
You. Savanah eyed Ethan as if he were a one hundred-eighty pound chunk of eye-candy made to order just for her. Oh! I’m in trouble.
Yes, you are! Ethan’s gaze began with her feet and worked his way very slowly up every delicious, lip-smacking inch of her body, as he took in everything the woman had to offer him. When his eyes rested on hers he smiled, still in the form of a wolf, but he smiled all teeth and tongue. Yeah baby, I’m the big bad wolf, all right. And I am going to eat you for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dessert, however, is on me.

Places you can find Jaclyn Tracey and her imaginary friends:
Website URL:
Twitter: @jaclynkearney
The wild Rose Press:

Thank you for stopping by today. Wishing each of you the merriest of holidays with your family and friends.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Genre Bending Zombie Apocalypse and Paranormal Romance

Genre Bending Zombie Apocalypse and Paranormal Romance
By Eva Gordon

Hello, visitors to the garden. I love to write genre bending paranormal romance and fantasy novels.  Apocalyptic Moon, Book 1 in my new series, After the Bane is a good example of a genre bending story. But first a little about myself. My background is in the biological sciences and I’m a science nerd adventurous romantic. When I’m not writing I’m either working with raptors or volunteering at wolf sanctuaries. I love to create fantasy worlds, suspenseful action driven stories with a splash of romance. Hot alpha men and the daring women they must possess in a world of great peril.

So why zombies?

Every since I can remember, of all the monsters out there that shuffle in the basement, sneak outside your door, stalk in the dense forest, or make the most chilling to the bone moans; the flesh eating zombies beats out vampires, werewolves, aliens, demons, and clowns as the scariest creature out there. There is nothing more horrific than being eaten alive by another former human. Not that being eaten by a shark or lion is any worse, but the thought of cannibalism by a former family member, friend or the pizza delivery boy is the stuff of nightmares. Zombies were always my favorite horror movie monsters since I saw Night of the Living Dead.

The Walking Dead, World War Z, and a growing number of movies, games and books, shows just how popular and mainstream zombies have become. Even the Centers of Disease Control has a site on how to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse. CDC and zombies

What I like about zombie movies and books is that the story is not just about flesh-eating ghouls but about the survivors. Do they band together and help? Think, me only survival? Or without the law, is it time to loot, rape and pillage? Because I’m a romantic at heart, I want to believe that despite the apocalypse there can be a happily ever after.

So why mix it with shifter paranormal romance?

I’ve written several books in the werewolf romance subgenre. I love werewolves and shifters. Typical of this genre, our shifters live clandestinely amongst humans. How will the zombie apocalypse affect the shifters? The zombies only infect and go after humans. So what will the shifters do? Help or turn bad? In my novel, I have several factions of shifters both good and bad. Bad humans, bad shifters, and the hungry zombies equal the trifecta of grave danger.

In the mixture of chaos, I added the passion driven romance between forbidden lovers. Personally, if there is a zombie apocalypse, I would love to cuddle with a hot alpha werewolf who can show us all, which monster carries the strongest bite.

I would love to your thoughts, comments and answer questions.

Apocalyptic Moon, Book 1 in the After the Bane Series.
Book Trailer:

Book tagline:
Ravaged by a global zombie pandemic, humanity’s survival depends on the secret society of shifters, but can they be trusted?

Book Blurb:
Dr. Dora Adler’s life has been in disarray since the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, but when she gets bitten by one of the undead her whole world is turned upside down. Held captive in a secret underground lab, the tall, muscular hunk in the next cell is her only hope for salvation. Unfortunately, he claims to be a werewolf. Yeah, and she’s supposedly a witch.

Dirk Gunderson is an alpha Arbor pack werewolf. Captured and collared, he’s sold to the zombie lab in hopes his blood serum can create a vaccine. He needs to escape, but not without the hot little brunette witch.

In the midst of enemy werewolves and the hordes of undead, Dirk and Dora’s sexual tension ignites a blaze hotter than the desert highway. Along their journey, they battle the inevitable: a werewolf must never take a witch as a mate.
And if the end of the story leaves you hungry for more, Book 2 in the series, Raven Moon, will follow early 2014. And earlier on Kindle select.

Where to purchase Apocalyptic Moon
Sony books:
The Wild Rose Press:
Book Strand
All Romance

And Available Now Exclusively at Amazon! 
Raven Moon - Book 2 in the After the Bane Series

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from the staff of the Wild Rose Press

To all my wonderful roses – thank you for 7 years of fantastic stories, fun and laughs. I wish all of you and yours the merriest of Christmas and a healthy and happy 2014!  To our men and women serving overseas this holiday season and to their families missing them back home, thank you for your sacrifice and your service and may God bless each of you and keep you safe from harm.
Rhonda Penders, Editor-in-Chief

To all the authors and readers of the Wild Rose Press. We wish you the Merriest of Christmases. Have a safe and prosperous New Year. Cheers to an amazing 2014!
Lisa Dawn
Marketing Director 

I am wishing all my authors a Blessed and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Amanda Barnett
Senior Editor - Faery Rose 

"Though it's a busy time of year, make sure you put a little naughty in your holiday! Merry Christmas!"
 Diana Carlile
Senior Editor - Scarlet Rose

Happy holidays from the Champagne Rose line. May 2014 be your year to shine!
Roseann Armstrong
Senior Editor - Champagne Rose 

My mom and I would sit down together every Christmas and watch the Alistair Sims (1940's) version of A Christmas Carol--our favorite:) With that said, I would like to say "Merry Christmas! and God bless us all, everyone!"
Senior Editor - Black Rose

I can't believe 2014 is upon us. I am happy to say that I have been with TWRP since the beginning, and I love working for them as much as I ever did. Each year, I meet wonderful new authors and discover fabulous new stories. Looking forward to another year of delightful surprises. Hope you all have the best Holiday Season ever and a healthy, happy New Year!
Ally Robertson
Editor - Crimson Line

Wishing all of you and your families the very best this holiday season....Love, laughs and special memories!  "Seeing isn't believing; believing is seeing." ~ from the Santa Clause 2.  Never forget that!
Stacy D. Holmes
Senior Editor, Yellow Rose

My favorite Christmas tradition comes on Christmas Eve after we've been to mass and enjoyed a nice family dinner. My two sons, hubby and I gather in our family room  for hot cocoa and dessert, finishing the last chapter of A Christmas Carol-- which we start reading together about a week before Christmas Eve-- and of, course, reading T'was the Night Before Christmas. In that moment I'm able to catch my breath from all the December craziness and it finally feels like Christmas!  Wishing all our TWRP family a peaceful holiday season and a joyous new year!
Nicole D'Arienzo, Managing Editor
Historical Division

On the night of the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year, I leave a candle burning until sunrise. May this small light brighten your hearts and shine upon you all through 2014.
Editor - Kinan

Since I have five children and three grandchildren scattered around the country, we've begun our FACETIME electronic Christmas morning tradition. Everyone has some sort of SMART device so we can all see each other on Christmas morning. It is still the same bedlam we experienced in the past with so many children. Now there are more...and we all open presents to Nat King Cole singing "The Christmas Song."
Merry Christmas
Editor - Frances Sevilla

My kids have begun a new Christmas tradition--wrapping gifts so they look like something else. I've gotten a dachshund, a space alien with a gun, and a duck in past years. I sadly don't remember what was in them, but I cherish the time and effort they put into making it special. I hope everyone has a Christmas filled with special memories that go above and beyond any gift.  
Trish Owens, Scarlet Editor

As family draws near, I count my blessings – one of which is being a part of the Wild Rose family.   May this holiday season find you happy and healthy and that 2014 be filled with memorable events!
Lori Graham - Senior Editor, Crimson Rose

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!  Wishing you a productive and prosperous 2014!  Laura Kelly, Editor, Crimson Rose
Laura Kelly Editor Crimson Rose

One of my only traditions for this time of year is to send something to someone who doesn't expect to receive anything, often to some of the brave soldiers who are serving so far away from home.  I wish all of you plenty of wonderful treats and experiences and a 2014 filled with lovely books to read!
New to the Garden Editor-ELF
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Victorian-American Christmas - Susan Macatee

A Victorian-American Christmas
Susan Macatee

The traditions of the Christmas season, at least in America, evolved during the Victorian period to encase much of what we still celebrate as part of Christmas today. St. Nicholas or Santa Claus appeared as a main part of the season during the Victorian era.

Also, the Christmas tree, thought of by many as being donated by German immigrants, who decorated an evergreen tree in their homes. This tradition, in actuality dates back to pre-Christian times. To the Romans, the evergreen was a symbol of fertility and regeneration. The early Christians adapted the symbol to represent the Tree of Life and Jesus.

The Christmas tree in America dates back to as early as 1812 or 1819. New York was originally a Dutch Republic named New Amsterdam, hence the earliest American Christmas trees may have originated with the German-American population.

The Christmas tree gradually increased in popularity over the next twenty years. Universal appeal occurred during the 1850’s and 1860’s.

Godey’s promoted the charm of the in-home Christmas tree, highlighting Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s celebration. A table-top tree was included, the print appearing in the December Godey’s issue in 1850. Albert had introduced the tree he’d embraced as a child in Germany and years after his marriage to Victoria, stated, “I must now seek in the children an echo of what Ernest [his brother]and I were in the old-time, of what we felt and thought; and their delight in the Christmas-trees is not less than ours used to be,…”

In America, over the next decade, Christmas trees started to appear in both the churches and the marketplace. This in turn, encouraged people to bring them into their homes, making the tree an important part of holiday décor.

From Christmas Trees and Godey’s Lady’s Book/ America’s Victorian Era in the Age of Sail

For more information and photos of early Christmas trees go to a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hunting the Wren - Laura Strickland

Laura Strickland

In Medieval times in Britain, life was often arduous and difficult. Unless you were a knight or a member of the nobility, your day-to-day existence revolved around the constant struggle to survive. Rarely did you have enough food, sufficient fuel for your fire or adequate clothing. Working from sunup to sundown wasn’t just an adage; it was a fact of life. Among these unending chores, diversions must have been few.

No wonder our ancestors celebrated when and how they could, and no wonder holidays were cherished occurrences. Just think about it: a holiday offered a break in the drudgery and perhaps a respite, however brief, from the daily grind. People in Medieval Britain still lived close to the land and took their cues from the seasons. A good year in the fields could mean the difference between their families making it through the winter or feeling the pinch of want. And celebrating could buoy the spirits enough to keep winter’s darkness at bay, at least for a while.

Customs in Medieval England combined Christianity – mostly the provenance of the Church at that time – and older beliefs stemming from the earth-based religion that had reigned for thousands of years. The very word “holiday” is a variant of the words “holy day”, and meant a day when the Church gave folk leave to alter their routines. The Church calendar was full of Saints’ days, many of which fell on or near older days of Pagan importance. Just as churches tended to be built on prior holy Pagan sites, the Church must have realized it would be easier to overlay the old beliefs than convince people to abandon them.

St. Brigit’s Day was on February 2nd (now our Groundhog Day), and on the Pagan wheel of the year marked the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. All Saint’s Day struggled to supplant the importance of Samhain (our Halloween), one of the most significant days on the Pagan calendar, which denoted the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. Christmas held sway over a portentous day indeed, the Winter Solstice. In ancient times, people in northern climes watched the life-giving sun disappear day by day, and darkness gain its hold on the Earth. Cold gripped the land and superstitious panic must have gripped our ancestors’ hearts. I think they can be forgiven for holding to any customs they believed might entice the sun back again.

And who can blame them for tossing an extra holiday into the mix at this dark time of year? St. Stephen’s Day fell on December 26th, now still celebrated as Boxing Day in Britain and Canada. It’s also the day for hunting the Wren. What has an innocent Wren to do with bringing back the sun, you ask? Well, the origins of the custom are varied and debated. Some say it stemmed from the Wren’s arguably devious nature: he once cheated in a contest among all the birds to see who could fly highest, by hitching a ride on the Eagle’s back. Or he might have represented the triumph of the ordinary in nature by surviving the Winter, a figure with which the common folk identified. On a less palatable note, he may have been a lingering remnant of the sacrifices that were once paid as a fee to the Gods on whom the people of the land relied. For on December 26th, the Wren was hunted over field and stile, captured or killed, and made King for the day.

Some of the best evidence we have of this custom survives in the lyrics of songs. The folk tradition thus expressed tells us that men or boys dressed up as mummers, often wearing costumes made of straw, and having pursued and attained their prize, then dressed it up in silks and ribbons – no small feat for people who could barely clothe themselves! The King might then be affixed to a pole and marched about the town, or he might be carried, dead, in a box from door to door, somewhat the way Trick or Treaters still go door to door today. The King who was deemed to be got up in the “finest” array elicited donations from the householder and in return the “Wren Boys” bestowed good luck on the household for the coming year.

So, if a crowd of ruffians appeared at your door when you still felt a certain sense of largesse following the Christmas celebration and showed you the corpse of a celebrated bird laid in a box, what would you do? With the threat of a hard Winter ahead and the equally frightening specter of want staring me in the face, I think I’d give them a draught of wassail if I had any, and whatever small change I could spare. Me, I’d want all the good luck I could get. And can this be the underlying reason the British have long presented boxed gifts to their postmen and other service people who come to their door on the 26th? Quite probably. Old traditions survive in the oddest of places.

In my new Historical Romance, Daughter of Sherwood, my main character is named for the Wren, but by whom she never knows – likely not her mother, Marian, who abandoned her soon after the death of her father, Robin Hood, and succumbed to her grief in a nunnery. But I like to think whoever did grant her that name did so for a reason, for my Wren possesses the same attributes as that mythical bird: its courage to survive, its valor when pursued by bands of bloodthirsty villagers or, indeed, the Sheriff of Nottingham’s men, and the determination to bring something better to her people in a new age, as in the new year. The same magic that infuses that ordinary brown bird, so I believe, also invests my heroine – an ordinary, brown-haired maid who learns what it means to love, and sacrifice, and ultimately fly.

As our holiday season approaches, I wish you health, happiness and all the luck bestowed by the little brown Wren! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Trivia - Samantha Gentry

Christmas Trivia
Samantha Gentry
A happy holiday season to everyone. My name is Samantha Gentry and I'd like to share some Christmas trivia with you.

Each year 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States.

From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston because it was considered decadent by the Pilgrims who settled there. In contrast, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all in the Jamestown settlement.

Christmas wasn't an official holiday in America until June 26, 1870, five years after the end of the Civil War, when Congress declared it a federal holiday.

The first eggnog made in the United States was in 1607 in the Jamestown settlement.

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was created by Robert L. May in 1939 as part of an advertising campaign to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.

The first tinsel decoration was made from real silver and originally used to reflect light from candles placed on Christmas trees (in the days before electric lights replaced candles). Tinsel came into popularity in 1610 in Germany. Silver was hammered out and cut into thin strips to hang on the tree. Real silver tarnished, so the tinsel rarely lasted more than one season. Silver tinsel was used until the early 1900s and was seen as a status symbol. Today's tinsel is made of PVC. Due to its environmentally unfriendly nature, it has mostly gone out of style.


I'd like to share a bit of OPEN IN PRIVATE by Samantha Gentry, my Christmas book offering currently available from The Wilder Roses (the Scarlet Rose line of erotic romance from The Wild Rose Press. ... cts_id=955

As a personal shopper, Charlene Vance values her professional association with long time client Parker Simmons. But at the meeting to discuss the list for this year's Christmas purchases, she learns that Parker is divorced and the ex-wife is off his list. When lunch leads to dessert between the sheets, Charlene is eager to move their relationship beyond good business and incredible sex.

Parker Simmons doesn't want anything more permanent than what's on the menu for today. But Charlene's enthusiasm to experiment in bed satisfies his darker appetites and suddenly he's craving more. Parker might need her help with holiday gift ideas but he's got his own shopping agenda. On his list? Gifts only for Charlene—to open in private.

I invite you to stop by my website for excerpts from OPEN IN PRIVATE and information on my others books, including my upcoming release, an anthology titled EROTIC ENCOUNTERS.

And then you can check out my blog, a new post every Sunday morning.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season. And most of all—PEACE ON EARTH.

Samantha Gentry
steamy mysteries and sultry romances
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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Double Dipping with Solstice and Christmas

Brenda Whiteside

According to one interpretation of the Mayan calendar, the world as we know it could’ve come to an end on December 21, 2012. Another interpretation saw an era ending and a new one beginning on the winter solstice date. Since that date has come and gone and we're all still here, I'm going with this gentler interpretation. It was the first winter solstice for our family in our new home. We started a new tradition which rang in a new era for the first year on Tortuga Flats Farm.

The mid-winter Solstice celebration has been around as far back as history is recorded. Cultures all over the world celebrated the darkest time of winter. Neolithic farmers were fearful the sun and their crops might not return. Fire played a part in symbolically bringing back the warm sunny days. Romans decorated their homes with evergreen plants and had various celebrations to lift the spirits during the long winter months. Celtic traditions are many for winter and the Solstice. Native Americans had Solstice traditions. It was a time to reflect on the past year and hope for the new. Sprinkled in all these traditions across the globe were Shaman gift givers, Santas in various forms, holly, ivy, bells and all the other things we associate with Christmas.

As farmers, we decided to start our own traditions for this season. Our first Solstice included a meal with much of our own produce. After dinner we gathered outside around a fire and we each reflected on our first year as farmers and what we hoped next year might bring. We ended with s'mores! I doubt the ancient Neolithic farmers had s'mores, but after all that reflection, chocolate and marshmallows were in order. Back inside, we exchanged gifts.

We haven’t thrown over more traditional Christmas celebrations. On Christmas Eve we have another big dinner and continue to give thanks. Christmas morning we empty our stockings and find a gift from Santa. We then go south and visit the rest of our family.

We had a great time with our first Solstice. This year we’ll have one new person, my granddaughter! She won't be able to add verbally to the fire circle, but her presence will add to our richness.

Brenda spends most of her time writing stories of discovery and love. The rest of her time is spent tending vegetables on the small family farm she shares with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Together, they’ve embraced an age-old lifestyle that has been mostly lost in the United States - multiple generations living under one roof, who share the workload, follow their individual dreams and reap the benefits of combined talents.

Although she didn’t start out to write romance, she’s found all good stories involve complicated human relationships. She’s also found no matter a person’s age, a new discovery is right around every corner. Whether humorous or serious, straight contemporary or mystery, all her books revolve around those two facts.

Her latest release, Amanda in the Summer, has received great reviews on its Amazon debut. Amanda will release worldwide December 18, 2013.

Visit Brenda at
Or on FaceBook:
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at
She blogs about writing and prairie life at a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 20, 2013

Memories of Christmas Past - Blair McDowell

Memories of Christmas Past
Blair McDowell

Go to my blog at for a chance to win an e-copy of my Christmas fantasy, 'Abigail's Christmas'.

My fantasy Christmas happened long ago. It will live in my memory forever as the most beautiful Christmas I’ve ever experienced. I was in Hungary, studying at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music for the year, away from home and husband and missing both severely.

The Budapest of that time, 1971, was a drab and dreary place. Mementos of the brief, abortive 1956 Hungarian Uprising against their Soviet oppressors were everywhere. Sides of buildings were riveted with bullet holes. Russian soldiers patrolled the streets in pairs, machine guns slung across their shoulders, unsmiling, stony faced, ignoring everyone and everything in their path.

I remember being cold all the time. Buildings were not centrally heated – rooms had ceramic stoves heated with soft coal. It was warm only immediately next to the stove. I cut the fingers out of a pair of gloves so that I could wear them in class and still take notes.

But I had been fortunate in finding a wonderful place to stay. After looking at several rooms near the Academy that ranged from dreary to dismal, I decided to look farther afield. I had bought a little yellow VW in Amsterdam, so it was possible to search beyond the city limits. High in the hills on the Buda side of the Danube, (that’s the Duna, in Hungarian) I found a wonderful old pouszta (country) style home with a room to rent. The house was blindingly white, long and low, with a series of archways across the front and a red tile roof. I later learned that the red tile roof was new. Just a couple of years before it had been thatch.

I rang the bell at the wrought iron gate and a young dark haired woman came bustling down the flagstone path, accompanied by several dogs and some hens and roosters she shooed out of the way. Unlocking the gate she said “Tesek”, a word I learned had many meanings, but at that time clearly meant I was to come in.

Talking all the while, she led me into a kitchen rich with the aromas of garlic and paprika. Soup bubbled on the stove. I had taken a year of Hungarian lessons before coming to Hungary, but they had in no way prepared me for this onslaught of indecipherable conversation. I smiled and nodded a lot.

She sat me down at the little kitchen table. “Ehes?” she asked, proceeding to dish out a large bowl of the rich dark soup and cutting me a slice of heavy black bread to accompany it. By this time I had decided to take the room whatever and wherever it was in this household. I think I’d have happily bedded down in the chicken coop.

But that didn’t prove necessary. The room was small, but bright, its single bed and armoire were painted green and decorated in peasant style with birds and flowers. There was a window looking out on the garden, which could be opened if the weather was balmy or closed and shuttered against winter winds, and there was a sheepskin on the floor beside the bed so that bare feet wouldn’t land on chilling tiles.

I had found a home. That was in October. I soon became a part of the household, just another family member along with Sari, her husband Gyuri, their two children, Kati and Peter and the patriarch of the family, Nagypapa, (Grandfather).

We quickly settled into comfortable routines. I had been there only a couple of days when Sari sat down at the table with me and produced two small books – one entitled “English-Hungarian Dictionary and the other “Madgar-Angol Szotar”. We started talking, referring to our dictionaries every two or three words. Sari, who had lived most of her life in a country occupied by invading armies, first the Germans and then the Russians, had insatiable curiosity about everything beyond Hungary’s borders. What was it like living in the west? How many rooms did my house have? How much money did a school teacher make in America? Where did we go on holidays? What did we eat?
My vocabulary increased exponentially, perhaps aided by Nagypapa, who would pour me a water glass full of wine every evening, which he never allowed to become empty. The family grew grapes and made their own wine that was stored in a cave dug into the hillside. Nagypapa would go out to the cave, siphon off a pitcher of the fruity white wine and bring it into the kitchen where Sari and I were at our language lessons, saying, “Kisci bor jol aludni.” A little wine, good sleep. It was very good wine and I slept exceedingly well.

But I missed my husband so I made plans to go home and spend Christmas with him. When I told Sari that I would be leaving on December 15th and returning after the New Year she was appalled. “You’re not here for Christmas? This is not a good thing. It is an important family holiday and you will not be here with your Hungarian family to celebrate?”

There was nothing for it but to hold Christmas early. The night before I left we had a traditional Hungarian Christmas dinner, ending up with a scrumptious traditional desert, Almas Retes, then we went into the long narrow room with all the arched windows. There, Gyuri had set up the Christmas tree, freshly cut pine, its pungent scent filling the air. There were short fat candles on each branch. Real candles. At a given moment he lit them one by one until the whole tree was blazing with soft flickering light. No tree I’ve ever seen before or since has been as beautiful. Under the tree were boots. My boots, Kati’s boots and Peter’s boots. And in the boots were presents. Mine was a hand embroidered table cloth that had belonged to Sari’s grandmother.

The next day I flew back to the US and for the next two weeks I did the usual round of holiday parties and admired myriad, mostly artificial, Christmas trees with their blinking electric lights and saw houses outlined in lights with Santa Clauses up on the rooftops and reindeer in yards—and my mind kept returning to my beloved Hungarian family and the fresh cut pine tree with the real candles.

I was happy to see my husband. It was never easy being separated from him as we were all too often by his work or mine. But Christmas for me will always recall memories of a pouszta-style house in the Buda hills, Almas Retes, and a tree lit with real candles.

Sari and I have remained life-long friends. I have returned to Hungary many times since, and she has visited me in the US, in Canada, and in the Caribbean. We’re both widows now, but we’re still family to each other.
Recipe for Almas Retes (Hungarian Apple Strudel)

Preheat the oven to 350

- 6 apples
- Sugar as needed
- Ground walnuts as needed ( at least a full cup )
- ½ pound (more or less) of melted butter
- A package of filo sheets. This is a dough that comes in paper thin sheets, each about a foot long. It comes in a long thin box. Filo dough is available in most high end specialty food markets.

You will need a large baking tray, a pastry brush and a damp tea towel. (The damp tea towel makes it easier to handle the fragile pastry.)

- Slice the apples into thin wedges. Have the ground walnuts in a dish ready to use and the sugar in an open container.
- Melt the butter.
- Place the damp tea towel on a smooth counter surface.
- Take the roll of filo dough out of the package. Unroll it and carefully remove two sheets, placing them on the damp tea towel.
- Brush butter on them generously. Be careful to brush lightly. The dough is fragile.
- Sprinkle the dough with sugar and ground walnuts.
- Add two more sheets on top of the first two. Butter and sugar these as you did the first two. Sprinkle them with ground walnuts.
- Add two more sheets and repeat the process.
- You are now ready for the filling. Place the apples in a long narrow strip at the end of the tea towel closest to you.
- Now lift the edge of the tea towel closest to you and gently roll the filled dough from the end nearest you to the other end. You will end up with a long narrow roll with the apples at the center.
- Now roll the retes onto the baking sheet and butter the top.
- Bake for 45 minutes and serve warm

Merry Christmas! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Holiday Traditions and a Homecoming Surprise - Lilly Gayle

Holiday Traditions and a Homecoming Surprise
Lilly Gayle

Growing up, my family had strict traditions regarding the holidays. From the time my family moved to North Carolina when I was ten until I married at age twenty, we followed the same rituals. We'd rise early to see what Santa brought us before driving the mile and half down the road to my paternal grandparents' home for breakfast. My dad's three brothers, their wives, and all my cousins were there. It was crowded and loud, but it was fun.

After my husband and I had children, we spent the night at my parents' house so we could follow those same traditions. But my grandmother was the glue that held my extended family together. My grandfather died first and then after my grandmother died, we didn't see much of my father's family during the holidays any more. My dad and his brother's families started their own traditions, but things just weren't the same.

My siblings and their families continued to gather at my mom and dad's house. At first, everyone spent the night and my two daughters loved being with their cousins on Christmas Eve. It became a ritual as important to me as the family traditions I enjoyed growing up. But nothing ever stays the same and as my girls got older family traditions altered a bit more. Soon it was just my daughters and one other cousin who spent the night at my parents' house. Then the year before my oldest daughter graduated from high school, we started spending Christmas Eve at home and going to my parents' house for breakfast.

Despite the changing traditions, Christmas was always Christmas and family spent time together. Until…

In 2006, my oldest daughter married a soldier four days after Christmas. By March, they were living in Germany. That first Christmas without her was hard, especially for my younger daughter who missed her sister as much as her dad and I did. Thank God for Skype!

On Christmas Eve, we hooked my laptop up to the television and coordinated a time to exchange gifts simultaneously. We'd mailed our packages to them and they had mailed theirs to us. So, we were able to share in the gift unwrapping experience. It wasn't the same as being together, but it was better than missing out completely.
The next year, my daughter and son-in-law were able to come home for the holidays. It was the one and only time in the six years he was in the army. By 2012, my daughter told us they were coming home. For good. They hoped to arrive by December 20th, weather permitting. So, I was on pins and needles, waiting and praying for their safe arrival. God willing, my baby would be home for Christmas!

Like Christmas, my family had always followed traditions for Thanksgiving too, but as families grew and expanded, traditions changed. And last year, I hosted Thanksgiving at my house. My youngest daughter had moved out and was living on her own—another change I had to get used to—and she was late getting to my house for Thanksgiving lunch. When she finally drove up, I went to the front door to meet her…and found my oldest daughter on the doorstep with her. She had arrived a month early. It was her first Thanksgiving at home since the year before she'd gotten married.
I've never been so happy or surprised in my entire life. My baby was home to stay—only she wasn't. She'd come home early because she believed her husband was getting out of the army earlier than expected. By the time she arrived at the airport, he'd gotten some unexpected news. The army had hired him as a civilian air traffic controller in the same tower where he'd spent his six years in service. It was an opportunity they couldn't pass up. So, by February, my daughter and son-in-law were once again living in Germany—possibly for three more years.

I'm not sure if they'll be home for Christmas this year or not. They're planning on it, but I've learned over the years that plans, like traditions, change. I've also learned that it's not about when or where you spend the holidays. It's about taking the time to be with family and friends and letting them know how very much you love them.

For more holiday fun, visit me at where I am one of 7 hostesses or drop by my personal blog any Friday in December: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas in Paradise - Kathryn Knight

Christmas in Paradise
Kathryn Knight

Last year, we broke all our usual Christmas traditions to try something completely new. Instead of waking up to a decorated tree loaded with presents, we boarded a plane on December 20th and headed to paradise, literally: Paradise Island in the Bahamas, home of the incredible Atlantis resort.

Our boys, ages 14 and 11, had always wanted to visit this amazing water park. My husband, a former Coast Guard officer, loves all things that relate to the ocean, and this resort has the most beautiful aquariums I’ve ever seen. And *I* love to lie in the sunshine and read till I doze off. Especially when I realize I would normally be running around like a crazy person at the end of December—trudging through the cold, fighting for parking spaces, and scrambling for last minute gifts.

Although Atlantis had always been on our list of dream vacations, visiting over Christmas never occurred to us. But since most people prefer to be home on Christmas morning, the room rates drop considerably. Our best friends saw the deal over the summer, and asked if we’d join them for the trip. As my husband and I thought it through, we realized how perfect it could be. No trying to fill the space under the tree with gifts for boys who are too old for toys and too young to appreciate clothes. No tense moments with extended family. No malls, no wrapping until midnight, no cooking, cleaning, or plowing. This trip would be a gift to all of us, from all of us.

So our family of 4 joined their family of 4, and we had a blast. The kids were all old enough to have the run of the park. The adults spent the days lounging by the pool, floating along the lazy river, and enjoying tropical drinks. We had fabulous dinners every night, including a Christmas dinner at Mesa, one of celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s restaurants.

Santa did bring stockings full of candy in our suitcases, and the resort was filled with Christmas decorations. Some of the employees dressed as elves. Yachts lined up along the marina glittered with colorful lights. Santa led festive parades. And while it didn’t feel like our usual Christmas, the important parts were there: our little family all together, sharing the holiday with some of our very favorite people in the world.

I’ve known the other couple since high school, when we were all part of the same group of friends. As teenagers, we spent all our time together, exploring new ways to get into trouble on a regular basis. College moved us all apart for a few years, and I met my amazing husband in grad school. But that childhood connection drew us all back together, and 30 years later, the bond remains.

This close friendship served as my inspiration for the characters in SILVER LAKE. Rain, Jason, Allie, A.J., and Brandy found that same connection…until Brandy vanished during their senior year. Five years later, Rain is convinced Brandy’s ghost is trying to tell them something, and the former friends reunite at a lake house from their past. Rain is determined to find closure for Brandy’s terminally ill mother, but she’s also anxious to reconcile with Jason, the man whose heart she broke back in high school. Throughout the haunting summer, Rain must find the courage to face a desperate spirit, painful secrets, and a second chance with a first love.

This Christmas will find us back at home, appreciating our usual traditions while fondly remembering last year’s adventure. I’m excited to go back to a busy Christmas morning around the tree. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see our friends on December 25th, as they live 9 hours away. But we worked out another plan, and spent Thanksgiving together in New York City! The holidays remind us to be thankful for our family and friends, no matter where we are…a lounge chair by the pool, or curled up under a blanket in front of a fire. And if you’d like a chance to win a copy of SILVER LAKE to read beside that cozy fire or shimmering pool, stop on over and leave a comment on my blog:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

No Boxed Stuffing Allowed - Charlotte Copper

No Boxed Stuffing Allowed
Charlotte Copper

When I was little, we used to drive down to my uncle’s house in Buffalo, NY for Christmas. I remember it fondly because he always had 3 trees: one decorated in red, one in blue & green, and one in silver & gold. I had hoped to do the same when I grew up, but alas I only have space for one tree in my living room.

On Christmas morning he’d hang a sheet over the living room entrance, and we weren’t allowed to go in – not even peek – until we’d all eaten breakfast. The wait drove me crazy as a child, and it was one of the few days of the year that my mother actually ate breakfast!

I also remember it because of the food. He’d make a huge turkey dinner that took hours to cook. He’d spend at least an hour peeling & chopping all the vegetables. And...he’d stuff the turkey with stuffing from a box!

With all that time, effort and love put into the meal, why use stuffing from a box? If you want it during the week with pork chops or chicken, go for it. But I would like to establish a rule: There should be NO boxed stuffing allowed at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If you are a box-stuffing-abuser, I’d like to help you out. My mom’s turkey stuffing is easy and awesome, and is attached below as my Christmas present to you.

Better-than-boxed turkey stuffing

12 slices of bread – ripped into quarter & nickel size pieces (My mom used to always let the bread sit out over night to grow a little stale first. Me? Well, I’m not that organized.)
1 small onion – chopped
2 celery stalks – chopped
1 pepper – chopped (my mom used green pepper, I prefer to use red)
10ml poultry seasoning
5 ml sage
2 ml oregano
2 ml thyme
2 ml pepper
2 ml garlic salt
Throw it all into a large bowl & toss.
Add equal amounts (about ¼ - ½ cup each) of melted butter & boiling water....Enough to moisten without soaking.
Then taste – add in more of whatever spices you like – taste some more. Repeat as necessary.
Stuff as much into your turkey as possible. Extras can be cooked in a casserole dish, but require much less time in the oven.
And that is it. See how easy?

For conversion:
10 ml = 2 teaspoons
5 ml = 1 teaspoon
2 ml = ½ teaspoon

p.s. I’d like to apologize to anyone who is employed by a company that makes boxed stuffing. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hard Rockin’ X-mas! - Christine DePetrillo

Hard Rockin’ X-mas!
Christine DePetrillo

Nothing screams holiday time to me more than some… head-banging? Yes, that’s right. Head-banging. The rhythmic tossing of one’s head back and forth, letting your hair swish around frantically to the hammering beat of drums and bass guitars. Forget sleigh bells and pine needles and sweet, innocent elves.

No. Give me the Trans-Siberian Orchestra! (Go ahead, click the link if you’ve never had the full experience.)

Incredible, right?

Every year for the past ten years, maybe more, I have been attending the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s holiday show in November/December. This group combines heavy metal music with orchestra instruments and adds in a load of digital images, pyrotechnics, and lasers—yes, I said LASERS—to give the audience a sensory experience that blows minds. Let’s not forget the leather pants, the long, rocker hair, the spike-heeled boots, the low-cut black dresses, and the smoking hot way the musicians wail on their instruments. The voices on the singers are off-the-charts incredible as they tell the story of The Lost Christmas Eve.

With song titles like “Christmas Dreams,” “Wizards in Winter,” and “Different Wings,” this show is not your expected holiday treat. Music thunders inside of you. Your emotions are brought to the edge. Your eardrums may rupture, but it’s totally worth it. Trust me.

Many people enjoy The Nutcra… zzzzzzz… Sorry, I can’t even finish the name of that ballet without dropping into a coma. I once had to attend that show with an entire school of elementary
students. Do you have any idea how hard it is to pretend to be a mature adult who enjoys the ballet? Holy holly berries! It’s nearly impossible.

Other folks like to see A Christmas Carol performed live somewhere. Again, BORING! It really sizzles my chestnuts when local community theaters try to get all “artsy” with their rendition of this Dicken’s classic. I once saw a version that was done in about a foot and a half of water on the theater floor. Was there a flood? No. Did some pipes malfunction? Nope. It was considered “creative” and “innovative” to do it with the actors and actresses standing in water up to their ankles. In winter. In frosty New England.

Yeah, I don’t get it either. Clearly, I’m not cultured enough to comprehend this level of sophistication.

I am, however, perfectly capable of rocking out to metal-inspired, original holiday jams with a side of crazy electric violin and deep, rib-rattling cello. Totally more my speed.

This holiday season will be no different. It shall be blessed yet again by the magnificent TSO. I already have my tickets for seats with some good friends who have helped make this an annual Christmas tradition.

As long as they keep playing, I’ll keep paying to see them. They’ve totally hooked me and I’m ready to head-bang my way through the halls as I deck them. Not that anyone actually “decks” their halls anymore. Who talks like that?

Anyway, for more holiday fun, hop on over to The Roses of Prose group blog where you can enjoy FREE holiday reads from some fabulous authors throughout the month of December. There’s info on a giveaway I’m doing over there too. That’s all I’m telling you, so nudge, nudge. Go check it out. I also have some free holiday reads for you on my author website.

Rock on and stay on Santa’s good side! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Not a Creature was Stirring - Maria Imbalzano

Not a Creature was Stirring
Maria Imbalzano

Beginning when our daughters were toddlers, and every year thereafter, we get together with another family who also has two daughters the same ages. for a pre-Christmas celebration. Since we all work and we come together on a week night at our house, I order pizza and salad for dinner from our favorite area restaurant.

After a noisy culinary affair, (which always includes wine) driven by the excitement of Christmas, we move to the family room where the Christmas tree is decorated and lit. so the children could exchange gifts. Then all four girls sit on the couch with our friend in the middle, for a reading of "The NIght Before Christmas."

The girls are now ages 18 - 23 and we still get together every year for dinner, the exhange of gifts, and that all important reading. Recently, I went back to look at the photos over the years, and to my surprise, the girls sit in the same order on the couch as they did when they were young.

One of the best things about this tradition is when I tell my daughters we are getting together for "The Night Before Christmas" dinner, they don't even roll their eyes. It's expected and embraced.

If you would like a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card so you can purchase your very own copy of "The Night Before Christmas", please visit my blog at and leave a comment between this date and Christmas Eve. Happy Holidays! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 16, 2013

Colonial American Christmas Traditions - Beth Trissel

Colonial American Christmas Traditions and an Early American Christmas Cookie Recipe.
Beth Trissel

George Washington’s Christmas list for his stepchildren in 1758 was ambitious: “A bird on Bellows, A Cuckoo, A turnabout parrot, A Grocers Shop, An Aviary, A Prussian Dragoon, A Man Smoakg, (a man smoking?) 6 Small Books for Children, 1 Fash. dress’d Baby & other toys.” Children in colonial America might be given sweets or books, but most colonists wouldn’t have been this extravagant. Usually people of means gave one gift to their servants, apprentices, and children, but didn’t expect anything in return. These gifts were highly treasured and as commonly exchanged on New Year’s Day as on Christmas itself.

Christmas in colonial America bore faint similarity to the gala holiday we cherish today. The Puritans and Quakers (among other Protestant churches) banned celebrations altogether, claiming the holiday was popish and tied to pagan traditions. Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Lutherans introduced Christmas celebrations to colonial America, comprised of church services, dinners, dancing, visiting, and more of the same for wealthy folk. The music featured at balls and parties was the dance music of the period, much imported from across the Atlantic. Religious carols were also sung. “Joy to the World” became popular in my home state, Virginia. “The First Noel,” “God Rest You Merry Gentlemen,” and “I Saw Three Ships” are several more carols still beloved today.

Rather than the fervor leading up to December 25th that dies out almost as soon as the last gift is opened now, Christmas Day in colonial America began a season of festivities that lasted until January 6—thus the “Twelve days of Christmas.” Twelfth Day, January 6, was the perfect occasion for colonists to enjoy balls, parties, and other festivals.

Our emphasis on Christmas as a special holiday for children didn’t come about until the mid-nineteenth century, brought to America by the more family centered Dutch and Germans. Christmas in colonial America was predominantly an adult oriented holiday. The Southern colonies were the root of many celebrations (less Quakers/Puritans in the South and more Anglicans) and these included parties, hunts, feasts, and church services. Children were tucked away in bed or left behind, neither seen or heard. One sign of entering the adult world was the honor of attending your first holiday ball. Think how exciting that must have been for young ladies awhirl in taffeta and lace.

Plantations and other colonial homes, even churches, were decorated with holly, laurel, garlands and sometimes lavender. My garden club used to decorate a colonial era home/museum and we were restricted to natural materials and native fruit like apples that might’ve been used in that day. Mistletoe, an ancient tradition and the centerpiece of every colonial home, was hung in a prominent place. Romantic couples found their way under the green leaves and white berries just as they do now. Light was of vital importance at this dark time of year. Yule logs blazed and candles were lit, the wealthier having more to light.

A key part of colonial Christmas celebrations were the large feasts. What foodstuffs were served and the amount set before the guests all depended on the provider’s income. The menu was similar to ours. Among the offerings at a colonial dinner might be ham, roast, turkey, fish or oysters, followed by mincemeat and other pies and desserts/treats like brandied peaches. Wines, brandy, rum punches, and other alcoholic beverages were consumed in abundance in well-to-do households. Slave owners gave out portions of liquor to their workers at Christmastime, partly as a holiday indulgence and partly to keep slaves at the home during their few days off work. Intoxicated workers were less likely to run away or make long trips to visit distant relations.

One of our most cherished traditions was unknown to colonists. The Christmas tree traveled to America from Germany in the nineteenth century. Christmas cards originated in London and didn’t gain popularity until the nineteenth century. Santa Claus is a combination of Saint Nicholas and Father Christmas from Dutch and English traditions. As Americans absorbed new people and cultures, the holiday traditions expanded. Today, Christmas is an ever-changing blend of the old and new.~

My holiday romance set in Colonial America, A Warrior for Christmas, is  available in digital download from The Wild Rose Press, Kindle and Audio from Amazon, and eBook from other online booksellers.
Blurb:  Reclaimed by his wealthy uncle, former Shawnee captive Corwin Whitfield finds life with his adopted people at an end and reluctantly enters the social world of 1764. He plans to return to the colonial frontier at his first opportunity--until he meets Uncle Randolph's ward, Dimity Scott.

Deaf since a childhood bout of Scarlet fever, Dimity Scott intends to be cherished for herself, not her guardian's purse, even if it means risking spinsterhood. Then the rugged newcomer arrives, unlike any man she's ever known. Dimity has learned to manage her silent world, but unaccustomed to the dangers of the frontier, can she expect love and marriage from Corwin, who longs to return to his Shawnee life?~
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