Thursday, 31 December 2015

If You Say You're Going To Do Something, Do It! #2016

I wasn't sure whether to write a blog to reflect on my year. To be honest, with the boys home, watching movies with them so that they go to bed later than the norm, I haven't had a chance.

So this is a quickie!

Last year, like all years, has had its ups and downs. I had a big learning curve in the romance department, but it's done me good, because I am entering 2016 no longer with this dire need for a man. I am learning to be happily single.

In this past year, I've seen my second book come out in eBook and paperback, and I've finished writing my third. I don't like really setting resolutions, more like plans.

My plans are:

I want to continue in my efforts to stay fit and healthy, and remain in my size 10 jeans.

I want to write another book (book 4) and aim to get book 3 published by the end of 2016.

I want to support friends and family where I can, have mini adventures with my kids, and even some on my own.

I want to read to as close of my target books to read in a year (30) as possible.

I want to chip away slowly at the home improvements required in my house. I have said I must spend more time in the garden, and this can be achieved without affecting the writing time, because I am no longer chasing the dream of finding my soul mate. I will not chase men.

I want to be happy, positive and supportive. And to have fun. As I get older I see how quick these years whiz by.

Some of these things I may not have huge amounts of control over. The book being published, relies on a publisher liking it. Some adventures will require money I'll have to save.

My motto or mantra for 2016 will be: If you say you're going to do something, do it! 

I'm looking forward to 2016 too. I will have been writing for ten years! But maybe I'll save that for another blog post. :)

Finally, I want to wish all my friends, family, followers, readers and fellow writers a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Advent Calendar Day 24 #ChristmasEve

It's here! Already! Whether you're organised or not, Christmas Eve is upon us.

Today I'll be making a Yule Log (icing a shop bought chocolate swissroll) and boiling the gammon, in between playing board games with the kids.

Yesterday, we had a day out to grab some fresh air. A trip to Tyntesfield in the afternoon, then a drive to Trinity Close in Burnham-on-Sea, where they decorate their houses to raise money for charity.

I would like to wish all my friends, family, followers, fellow writers and readers a very Merry Christmas.

It's the end of another year. A time to relax, reflect on the year past, and make plans for the future year.

May 2016 be happy, healthy and prosperous for us all.



Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Advent Calendar Day 23 #ChristmasBaking

Behind door 23 is mince pies!

Yesterday, the boys and I baked our mince pies. It's a lot of stress for someone who doesn't like mess and is a bit controlling in how she likes things done, but mince pie making is relatively easy to do with kids. (She said after consuming a couple of glasses of sherry). It doesn't help that I have a small kitchen either.





Ben's Gingerbread House
I had also bought a kit from Ikea for a gingerbread house, thinking that my eldest might like to make it. Again, a bit stressful, but I tried to stay out of it, other than the making of the icing, and gave him free decorative rein.

I don't think it turned out too bad considering. I actually thought it would collapse as soon as the roof went on, but it held! Yay!

I used to make a Christmas cake and feed it sherry leading up to Christmas, but I haven't done that for a couple of years now, only because it won't get eaten. I'm not really a big cake Christmas cake eater, but I love icing it! And there is only so much food I can have in the house as I don't like waste - or Christmas would go on until February with the amount of cake we have to get through.

Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, we'll be making the Yule Log which Ben is a big fan of and cooking up the gammon.

When I say making the Yule Log, I buy a cheap chocolate swiss roll and ice and decorate it. :) But that's the boys' Christmas cake done.

Do you bake mince pies or have your own Christmas baking traditions?

I am trying to make mince pie baking a little tradition for me and boys each year. That way I don't have to buy them, and they're inclined to eat the ones they've made.

Merry Christmas! Only two more sleeps.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Advent Calendar Day 22 #FayKeenan

Only 3 more sleeps! Door 22 is Fay Keenan :) 


Mistletoe, Kisses and Christmas Misses


I love Christmas; I always have. Ever since those childhood days when I used to wake at an indecent hour and rummage through the stocking that my parents had somehow managed, ninja-like, to sneak onto the end of my bed, grappling its contents in the morning darkness, trying to guess what delights 'Father Christmas' had left there, to now, when my elder daughter has inherited the exact same stocking. There's something about the anticipation, and then the joy of the day itself, that excites me, even now I have to do a lot more preparation for it. Having said that, Mum and Dad still usually cook Christmas dinner, even now I'm the ripe old age of thirty eight!

The scent of Christmas, for me, is as important as any other sense. My parents owned a Holland and Barrett shop for some time during my childhood, and the addition to the Christmas decoration box of lavender scented fabric Christmas decorations, the scent of which permeated every other thing that was stored in the box, including the stockings and mingled with the potent pine aroma of a real tree (which had to be taller than I was - that was the only rule) is one I shall forever associate with the Yuletide season.

When the family moved to Somerset nearly two and a half decades ago, I was stunned by the abundance of holly and mistletoe in the region. Our new house had a garden that contained quite a few mature apple trees, and the sight of mistletoe growing in nearly every one in quantities that in the South East would have commanded a hefty price tag was wonderful to see. Even now, my dad cuts a generous bunch and brings it round to my house to hang from light fittings and anywhere I can put it. To a girl who had grown up roaming the commons of Hampshire, where pine trees grew in abundance, it was some compensation.

So it seems very surprising to me, looking back on my first book (currently out to publishers, watch this space!), that it doesn't actually contain an actual detailed account of a Christmas. The timeline of the novel just didn't allow for it, a fact I will definitely be allowing for in my second book! It wasn't a deliberate decision; it just seemed to happen that way, but never fear, there are plenty of other festivals in the book to make up for it! And since apple trees and their produce (especially cider!) feature so heavily, it seems even more surprising to me that mistletoe doesn't get a look in much! One thing's for certain; when I do eventually get to include a Christmas in a book, I'll be drawing on my own wonderful experiences. I feel very fortunate to be able to say that!

Bio: 

Fay Keenan was born in Surrey and raised in Hampshire, before moving to the West Country during the grumpy stage of her adolescence. After studying English and Politics at the University of York (along with an informal qualification in wildfowl spotting and the avoidance of goose poo), she worked in Manchester, Exeter, and finally settled back in the West.

Fay has been writing since she could pick up a pen, and has had several articles published in education magazines, including the English and Media Centre’s Media Magazine. The Little Somerby series is her first foray into novel length fiction, although she has written stories of many flavours over the years, including fanfiction. Far From the Tree is the first book in the series, and the bulk of it was written while Fay was on maternity leave with her second child.

When Fay is not chasing her children around or writing, she teaches English and Media Studies at a secondary school in the West Country. She lives with her husband of twelve years, two daughters, three cats, four chickens, a multitude of fish and a Weimaraner puppy called Bertie in a village in Somerset, which may or may not have provided the inspiration for Little Somerby.

Far From the Tree Blurb: 


Sometimes all you need to make a fresh start is to go back to your roots. When widowed Anna Hemingway moves back to Little Somerby, the last thing she’s looking for is romance. But then Matthew Carter, autocratic, charismatic divorced father and fourth generation cider maker walks into her life. Anna and Matthew feel an undeniable attraction, but when Matthew’s estranged brother Jonathan makes a surprise return to the village, trouble starts fermenting along with the apples. Will Anna and Matthew find happiness and the strength to move on with their lives, or will a tragedy that brings Matthew’s past back to haunt him thwart their blossoming relationship? Rural traditions, dysfunctional family relationships, four generations of family history and a host of likeable locals combine to build a story that will make you laugh, cry and yearn for a glass of cider.

www.faykeenan.com

Monday, 21 December 2015

Advent Calendar Day 21 #GeorgiaHill

Behind door number 21 is Georgia Hill!

It’s that time of year again. Christmas!

I’ve bought a few presents, got the cards, spent all my savings on stamps and am planning on getting the tree nice and early. The adverts are on the TV (cute at first but really annoying after the fiftieth viewing) we don’t mind the dark days too much as the Christmas lights are up and the pudding has had the third dollop of brandy infused into it already.

I love everything about Christmas!

I’ve got to untangle the tree lights and dust off the baubles for the tree and have yet to find the box of little woolly men. How do woolly men fit into the festive scene, I hear you cry (or maybe not!). My dear old mum knits to keep her arthritic fingers mobile, you see. Throughout the year she churns out clowns, teddies, the odd jumper or two, baby boots and little woolly men.

They’re gradually taking over the world. I have snowmen, a Father Christmas or three and a knitted nativity scene.

When I taught, I’d put an order in nice and early and every child in the class would receive a knitted figure – whether they wanted one or not! The five year olds cuddled them ecstatically, the older children pretended to be cool but still clutched them tightly on the way home.

I stopped teaching a few years ago, to write full-time but every Christmas I get pictures and messages from ex-pupils. They feature the little woolly men, still going strong, on top of trees or dangling from the ceiling – I hope in a nice way!

As for the knitted nativity scenes, I had one in every classroom I taught in – as I worked in mostly church schools. Mum struggled to find a pattern for a donkey so made one up. The resulting animal looked as if he’d been at the cooking sherry a bit too early but was a welcome addition. Some of the figures began to get a bit battered as the reception pupils played with them but they just looked more charming.
When I stopped teaching, I gave away my last two nativity scenes to local churches and I know they come out every advent Sunday.

A little knitted Father Christmas appears in most rooms in the house at this time of the year (suitably high up as you can imagine what the dogs do to them) and they remind me of happy days when teaching (there’s nothing like Christmas in a primary school) and my lovely mum beavering away in sweltering July to produce them.

Tiny, insignificant woolly men but made and given with love.
Happy Christmas!

Love Georgia x

Say it With Sequins (very sparkly and a bit Christmassy) and While I Was Waiting (not at all Christmassy but a good read for the dark nights) available now from Harper Impulse.

Buy them here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Georgia-Hill/e/B003VMVXN2/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1448381252&sr=8-2-ent

And, for more news, follow Georgia on Twitter @georgiawrites and at www.georgiahill.co.uk

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Advent Calendar Day 20 #BeckyBlack

It's really not long now. Opening door 20 on the advent calendar to find Becky Black behind it!

Gifts for writers

Have a writer in your life? What should you buy them for Christmas? Here are a few ideas.

Pens: Yes, they have 200 pens actually in their bag right this minute. But they could always use another one, because it’s different from all the pens, and sometimes you need just the right pen at just the right time. Include refills.

Notebooks: We can never have too many notebooks. And always remember that only some of that Giant Stack of Blank Notebooks can ever actually be used. The rest are far too pretty to ruin by writing in them. They’re not for writing, they’re for having. And it’s always fun to have more.

Books: Because books are awesome. And with your help your beloved writer can get that To Read stack up to the ceiling. Gift cards for retailers who sell books are a suitable substitute.

Caffeinated beverages: Tea, coffee, cola, it’s all good. Most writers love the caffeine buzz. Or require caffeine to actually resemble a human being in the mornings. Just hand over a cup, fast and nobody gets hurt, okay?

Wine: One of the reasons for the requirement for caffeine in the morning. Because after a hard day slaving over a hot keyboard, wrangling recalcitrant characters, many writers could use a small (large) glass of wine.

Chocolate: For rewards for getting work done. For comfort after a rejection. For getting in the mood for writing those love scenes. Or just because, chocolate.

A massage: Sitting for hours messes up your back, or your neck, or your shoulders. Or all three. A bit of pampering is always welcome.

But the number 1 gift all writers want – TIME. Give the writer in your life the time to write uninterrupted. Don’t come bother them barring something or someone being on fire. When they’re done they’ll be in a much better mood with you than if you came and interrupted them just when the characters were about to kiss…
  
My latest release is Into the Sunrise, an F/F contemporary novella,  published by Loose Id.

Blurb

On the day her son leaves home, Lorna Friern makes a long-planned escape from her loveless marriage. With one suitcase, her laptop, and a box full of books, she leaves L.A. to drive to a new life in a house she’s inherited in Long Island. On the same day, after Northern Californian wildfires burn down the motel where she lives and the bar where she works, Zoe Bradshaw decides to move on again. Her destination, Las Vegas. Maybe. Or home to her family. Maybe.

The two women meet on the road and when Zoe’s old junker of a car finally gives up the ghost, she accepts the offer to travel with Lorna for a while. perhaps all the way to New York. Lorna wasn’t looking for romance so soon after leaving her marriage, but chance put Zoe in her way and Lorna doesn’t want to leave her behind. Sharing a car and motel room beds, the two women learn each other’s histories and secrets. Only at the end of the journey will they know if they’ve escaped the past to ride off together into the sunrise.

Art by Mina Carter



Author Bio
Becky lives in the UK and her writing is primarily fuelled by tea and rainy days. After spending far too many years only thinking about writing she finally started putting words down back in 2003 and hasn’t stopped since, still trying to make up for lost time.

Links




Saturday, 19 December 2015

Advent Calendar Day 19 #ChristinaCourtney

Door 19 opened! Pia Fenton, aka Christina Courtenay is on my blog today!  

As I’m half Swedish and grew up in that country, Christmas for me is associated with a lot of Swedish Christmas traditions. We call it “jul” (the same word as the English Yule and pronounced the same way) and our Santa Claus is “Tomten”.

A “tomte” is normally a tiny leprechaun type of being who supposedly lives in every Swedish household and is responsible for the well-being of all the inhabitants, including animals. I love the thought of this and there are a lot of “tomtar” featured in our Christmas decorations, such as these tiny ones I keep next to my advent candles (another tradition – we light one candle each Sunday in the four weeks before Christmas Eve).

Where I come from, there are huge forests which are beautiful in winter, deep with snow and with all the branches covered in frost or snowflakes. That is the one thing I really miss as it’s a truly magical sight! But who knows, we might get some snow over here this year? I’m always hopeful.

Now that I live in England and have an English family, I really enjoy mixing the two countries’ traditions and having the best of both. Tomtar and angels, smörgåsbord followed the next day by a full turkey dinner – what could be better? It’s twice the celebration!

Wherever and however you celebrate, I wish you a Very Happy Christmas!

Short author bio:-

Pia Fenton (writing as Christina Courtenay) writes historical romance, time slip and YA contemporary romance, all published by independent publisher Choc Lit. She is half Swedish and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, she moved to Japan where she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association. Her novels Highland Storms and The Gilded Fan have both won the RoNA Award for Best Historical Romantic Novel of the Year (in 2012 and 2014 respectively). Her latest novels are The Jade Lioness (historical) and New England TLC (YA contemporary romance).

The Jade Lioness blurb:-

Can an impossible love become possible? (Nagasaki, 1648)

Temperance Marston longs to escape war-torn England and explore the exotic empire of Japan. When offered the chance to accompany her cousin and Captain Noordholt on a trading expedition to Nagasaki, she jumps at the opportunity. However, she soon finds the country’s strict laws for foreigners curtail her freedom.

On a dangerous and foolhardy venture she meets Kazuo, a ronin. Kazuo is fascinated by her blonde hair and blue eyes, but he has a mission to complete and he cannot be distracted. Long ago, his father was accused of a crime he didn’t commit – stealing a valuable jade lioness ornament from the Shogun – and Kazuo must restore his family's honour.

But when Temperance is kidnapped and sold as a concubine, he has to make a decision – can he save her and keep the promise he made to his father?

Website: http://christinacourtenay.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/christinacourtenayauthor?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PiaCCourtenay

Buy links:-

Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jade-Lioness-Kumashiro-Christina-Courtenay/dp/1781892377/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1444222646&sr=1-1

Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1781892377?keywords=The%20jade%20lioness&qid=1444222741&ref_=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2&sr=8-1



Friday, 18 December 2015

Advent Calendar Day 18 #CarolineRoberts

Door 18! Only 6 days left of our advent calendars to go. Behind today's door is Caroline Roberts. 

Caroline Roberts Christmas Q’s

Feeling festive? What are your favourite things to do at this time of year?

I love going to Edinburgh on the lead up to Christmas, browsing rather than serious shopping, with plenty of time to stop for a glass of bubbly or a cocktail. The festive lights and Christmas markets are lovely, and with the views of the castle, it’s really special.

Fav snow or ice related activity?

Making snow angels. I had a great girls’ night at a friend’s house a few years ago. It snowed really heavily through the evening, and was quite magical when we left in the early hours. Walking home three of us decided to make snow angels on the village green. We then wrote our names under them. No more snow fell that night, so our teenage children were amused (mortified?!) the next morning waiting for the school bus, as the names and angels were still there, with our footsteps heading home from them!

Does Christmas feature in any of your novels?

The Torn Up Marriage explores the fallout of an affair on a family and a marriage. Christmas was a particularly poignant time to write about – highlighting the difficulties of being apart at traditional family times, how to cope with the children, trying to keep things as normal as possible when you are breaking inside, dealing with the practicalities, and the emotions that everyone feels. It’s a really tough time for many people. In case anyone is interested here’s the Amazon Link to the book: https://t.co/H6oROLcYX5

Favourite thing about winter? 

Wrapping up warm, walking the dog on Bamburgh beach or the moorland hills with my family, then coming home to a real fire and a hot chocolate.

Hostess with the mostess, or ready made?
Bit of both! I have tried to do-it-all in past years and ended up feeling worn out, so I have learnt that as hostess/busy Mum I need some time out too over the Christmas period. I love Marks and Spencer’s for a treat and their party nibbles are fantastic, and though I do love to cook and will be making a traditional roast turkey dinner for the family, I usually buy in the stuffing and sausage wraps! I’m actually doing a tapas night for a change on Christmas Eve this year – I do a mean king prawn dish with garlic and chili, and spicy meatballs!

Favourite Christmas tradition?

Christmas Stockings – I just love them. Putting them out on Christmas Eve, “finding” them full Christmas morning. My children are now grown up and still want them!

Catch up with Caroline on Twitter: @_caroroberts

or Facebook: www.facebook.com/CarolineRobertsAuthor

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Advent Calendar Day 17 #KateyLovell

Opening door number 17, and it's Katey Lovell!

Creating Christmas traditions for my son has always been very important to me, especially as there were certain little things my own mum would do every year that became Christmas rituals.

Firstly, we always had a new pyjamas on Christmas eve. I think the idea was that we'd open our presents whilst wearing our new pyjamas, but I've never been very good at staying in my PJs after getting out of bed! I've continued this tradition though and Zachary is DEFINITELY good at staying in his new pyjamas...in his world, every day is a PJ day!

We'd also have a supper of pickles, cheeses and meats on Christmas eve night and there would always be a hexagonal box of lemon and rose Turkish Delights on the day itself. In fact, I love Turkish Delights and still buy Mum a box every year (and they're a pain in the bum to wrap!)

With Zachary, we try to ensure we see every lighting of the advent candle at church, which is always a moving moment. It's a peaceful moment in the hectic build up to Christmas, and a reminder of what the celebration is for.

I've always read him The Night Before Christmas as I tuck him into bed on December 24th and the other tradition we started was letting him choose a decoration for the tree each year. One day, when he's got a home of his own, he'll have a collection of random ornaments he's selected over his lifetime (he probably won't thank me for the gaudy gold and sequined spiral I let him choose when he was 2. It's ugly.)

Some of my happiest childhood memories are of Christmas, and I'm hoping Zachary's will be too.

Katey Lovell is the author of The Meet Cute series. The fourth title in the series, The Boy Under the Mistletoe is released December 17th.

Connect with Katey on twitter, @katey5678 or via Facebook www.facebook.com/kateylovell.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Advent Calendar Day 16 #BronwynScott

Behind door 16 is Bronwyn Scott! 

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is the holiday baking! I love making all the special cookies because they come from ‘family’ recipes from my grandma and my mom.


Many of them are probably cookies you make too! But here’s one of my favorite recipes. You’ll probably recognize it as the unofficial ‘dessert of Canada,” a favorite from the 1950s

Nanaimo Bars

Ingredients
20 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
5 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 1⁄4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1⁄2 cup ground almonds
1 egg
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tbsp. powdered milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate

Instructions

Heat 8 tbsp. butter, cocoa, and sugar in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat until melted and smooth; stir in crumbs, coconut, almonds, and egg. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined 8"x 8" baking pan and press evenly into bottom; set aside.

Beat 8 tbsp. butter, confectioners' sugar, cream, powdered milk, and vanilla in a bowl on medium speed of a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy; spread over chocolate layer.

Melt remaining butter and chocolate in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-low heat; spread over vanilla layer. Chill until set, at least 4 hours. Cut into squares to serve.

‘All gamblers are alike in luck…’


Although when Nolan Gray enters a high-stakes game in Venice, facing a ruthless opponent, he’ll need more than just luck. He can’t start losing now…especially when the virginity of the enthralling Gianna Minotti hangs in the balance!

Fate is on his side, and Nolan seizes victory. But leaving in a gondola with Gianna and not collecting on his tantalising prize pushes Nolan to his limits! Can he help her claim her freedom when really he wants to claim her for his own?

Rakes on Tour

Outrageous hell-raisers let loose in Europe!


Hi All!

I hope you’re enjoying the latest Bronwyn Scott series.  I have been with Harlequin since 2008 and I’ve loved every minute of crafting sexy new heroes and spicy heroines to match. It’s always an exciting challenge to come with new twists and ideas for stories from Regency gentlemen escorts to female gamblers.  I love writing and it’s a thrill to get to write for ‘work.’  However, I also wear a couple other hats. I am a tenured college professor in the Pacific Northwest where I teach communication studies and currently head the department on my campus.  This keeps me busy year round as does being a full time mom to three great kids. Between ballet, swim meets and horse shows, there’s never a dull moment around the house. It’s no wonder that a few of my heroes like to take  swim to relieve of the stress of being rakish and a few of my heroines over the past series have been bruising riders.

I love hearing from my readers, so stay in touch through my blog at www.bronwynswriting.blogspot.com  or follow me on twitter for updates about new releases and give aways.  As always,  I’ll see you out there! 

http://www.bronwynnscott.com/

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Advent Calendar Day 15 #ErinLawless


Behind door 15 is Erin Lawless listing her top ten Christmas films that get forgotten about! 

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

A dowdily-dressed, lonesome as hell Sandra Bullock pulls the Christmas shift at the train station, only to save the life of the man she's secretly fancied all year. Visiting him at the hospital where he lies in a coma, she 'accidentally' tells the nursing staff that she's engaged to him. With loads of charming family festivities and a Christmassy Chicago, this is always my go-to Christmas film!

DIE HARD/DIE HARD 2

Bruce Willis plays Detective McClane, a New York City cop trying to mend his broken marriage with his wife over the holidays. McClane's wife's office Christmas party is, naturally, overrun by a terrorist mastermind (Alan Rickman) and all of the guests are held hostage. McClane flies in late from NYC and is off in another part of the building when the takeover happens, so he's got the element of surprise on his hands as he tries to foil the bad guy's plot. Too bad he doesn't have any shoes.



BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Okay, so it's not strictly a holiday film – but there's something deliciously festive about the snow, and the dark wintery woods, and the roaring fires! You could make a Beauty and the Beast sandwich and watch the midquel, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas too if you wanted to!

JINGLE ALL THE WAY

"I'm not a pervert! I just was looking for a Turbo Man doll!" Poor, beleaguered family man Arnold Schwarzenegger is always putting his career over his family, so much so he forgets to pick up the action figure his little boy is desperate for for Christmas. Arnie has to race through town on Christmas Eve – along with a bevy of other neglectful fathers – to try and find a store where the toy isn't sold out! In the days of internet shopping, it's fun to look back and laugh..!

TRADING PLACES

A stuck-up stock investor (Dan Aykroyd) and a scheming street con artist (Eddie Murphy) find their positions reversed as part of a nature-versus-nurture bet by two insensitive millionaires. It also stars Jamie Lee Curtis as a prostitute, which is always excellent. Classic con game comedy that takes place around Christmas (remember a drunk Aykroyd dressed up as Santa and waving a gun around?)

MIXED NUTS

A glorious Nora Ephron-penned comedy starring the legend that is Steve Martin and Live Schreiber as a transvestite. It's Christmas Eve and a serial strangler is on the loose. A crisis hotline, staffed by three inept counsellors, faces eviction. They need a miracle…

ABOUT A BOY

This wry coming-of-age tale is quite touching amidst its Christmas backdrop – Hugh Grant starring as the "man-child" bachelor who survives on the royalties from a successful Christmas song his father composed decades before.

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Don't make the mistake of consigning this film to October! The film is truly about Christmas, not Hallowe'en! Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, is bored with doing the same thing every year for Halloween. One day he stumbles into Christmas Town, and is so taken with the idea of Christmas that he tries to get the resident bats, ghouls, and goblins of Halloween town to help him put on Christmas instead of Halloween -- but alas, they can't get it quite right.

GHOSTBUSTERS 2

Set five years after the first film, here the holiday season sees an influx of spirits to New York City, so who you gonna call? Who can resist the Ghostbusters charging around in Santa hats, eh?


Erin Lawless lives a happy life full of wonderful friends, in love with a man who buys her books instead of flowers. To mix things up a little, she writes books where friends and lovers hit obstacles and (usually) overcome them. When she’s not doing that she reads absolutely everything she gets her hands on, spends an inordinate amount of time in pyjamas and runs a fun-but-informative blog on British history.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Advent Calendar Day 14 #DRGraham

And opening door number 14 - It's Danielle Graham!

Hi Everyone! My name is Danielle, and I write as D.R. Graham. Teresa has invited me to share a little about my favourite holiday moments.

I was born in the Yukon and grew up in Prince George, Canada, where it gets very cold in the winter. Christmas was always a highlight for us as kids. Baking gingerbread and cinnamon buns, setting up the nativity scene, and playing in the snow once it got dark on Christmas Eve are some of my most vivid memories.

My favourite baking tradition in our family is the gingerbread carousel. It's fun to make, but even more fun to eat.

My all-time favourite Christmas movie is NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION. I watch it every year, and even though I know each line by heart, it still makes me laugh.

What are some of your favourite holiday traditions?

D.R. Graham

Website 🔹Twitter 🔹 Facebook

Picture

The Handler:

He promised he would never be an outlaw . . .

While searching for the member of an outlaw motorcycle gang who murdered his dad, Cain Allen is offered a boatload of cash to "handle" the stunning teen popstar Lincoln Todd. Although he doesn't need the headache of a high-maintenance celebrity, getting out of town will help him keep a low profile until he testifies against the other two killers.

Touring Europe with Lincoln proves to be more complicated than Cain anticipated, and despite his efforts, the line between their personal and professional lives blurs. Shes sweet, smart, and totally unpredictable. And he loves it.

But Lincolns association with Cain puts her in more danger than anyone could have imagined. When he joins forces with the Noir et Bleu Motorcycle Club to protect her, Cain discovers the lengths he's willing to go, and the person he's willing to become to protect the people he loves



Sunday, 13 December 2015

Advent Calendar Day 13 #SunChara

Behind door 13 is Sun Chara. Welcome, Sun! 

CHRISTMAS CARDS – How did the custom begin?

I’ve always been interested in learning how different cultures celebrate Christmas, and then I realized that exchanging Christmas cards is a global tradition. But how did it all start?

It all began in 1843 when a gentleman by the name of Henry Cole, the director of London ’s famous Victoria and Albert Museum was too busy to write notes and have them delivered. He asked an artist to create a card for him with a message inside that he could simply sign. A thousand copies were made, and voila! The first Christmas card came into being. 

Over the years, Christmas card sending became so popular that by 1870 it had turned into a worldwide custom. Fast forward about 145 years to 2015 and, although some people still send Christmas cards the traditional way, postage costs and technology has altered the practice so that now, most people send Season Greetings electronically and often with jingles!

No matter how you choose to send your Holiday cards, know that the joyous sound of your Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! greeting is heard around the world!

*historical reference courtesy Robert Atkin & David Schmid - Christmas Traditions 

All Wrapped Up For Christmas Blurb:


The fairytale busted! Their marriage hangs in the balance, but on this wind battered Christmas Eve, a miracle is born…

When Ellie hooked up with world renowned neurosurgeon, Peter Medeci, aka 'Prince Charming’, she thought her dreams had come true. But the demands of being the model wife to his career triggers a mutiny within her and she decides to ditch the 'royal' life until he sees her as more than his bedroom playmate.

Author Bio:

SUN CHARA, a multi-published, JABBIC winner for Manhattan Millionaire's Cinderella, keys sexy, hip 'n fun contemporary romance. A three-book deal with Harper Impulse launched her global career! Then, a five-book contract followed...winging onto cyber shelves worldwide soon, Greek Millionaire, Unruly Wife. Globetrotting for lore and keeping tabs on Hollywood leads, she samples designer frappuccinos topped with whipping cream/sprinkles, making everyday a celebration!


Twitter: @sunchara3

Purchase: Amazon US http://amzn.to/Y8yGm0

Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1qxcBnT

Amazon worldwide & all other e-retailers

*Buy direct from publisher harpercollins.co.uk http://bit.ly/Z8QJK6

EXCERPT: All Wrapped Up in You

CHAPTER ONE

“Ninety-nine cents.” Ellie stood outside the Burbank Media Mall showcasing a Christmas broach in her gloved hand to shoppers rushing by. She kept a smile plastered on her face, offsetting desperation rising in her throat, and wiggled her foot, adjusting the cardboard patch over the hole in her boot. 

It had been three weeks since she ditched Prince Charming and the ‘castle’. Had she made the right decision?

She replaced the broach in the basket, and scooped up the coins on the bottom. Two sales on Christmas Eve, not a good sign.

The Santa Ana winds sliced through her thin coat, numbing her flesh; a gust swayed the Palm trees lining the boulevard. She pulled the pink cap lower over her ears, glad she’d also worn the matching scarf.

“A dollar ninety-nine.” Ellie counted the money in her palm and a tremor shot through her. What could she buy with the pennies in her hand? She rifled through the pockets of her coat to ensure she hadn’t missed any coins. Nope, she hadn’t.

She leaned against the street lamppost and heaved a breath. Air frosted her lips. Her heart thudded, and she fisted her fingers, the coins grating in her palm. “I can’t return to the castle…and to him.”

But she had to get home…a laugh bubbled inside her, and she bashed it down before it erupted from her in a hysterical sound that’d have people gaping at her. She dropped the coins in her purse, and with her head slightly bent against the wind; she made her way to the bus stop, but stalled in step when a Porsche pulled up along side of her.

“Get in,” the driver commanded, his voice sending shimmers of awareness through her. “You’ll freeze waiting for the bus.”

“No.”

“Ellie, don’t be obstinate,” he said, a ripple of impatience in his voice. “I’ll give you a lift home.”

An eerie silence ensued in the lull in the wind, and the melody sailed to her from the car radio. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la…’

She nearly snorted at the lyrics. Jolly… Huh!

Peter Medeci, M.D. The highly sought after neurosurgeon, the man of her dreams. The man that had given her everything except the one thing she wanted most…and that’s why she skipped out on him. To get close to him again would be self-destructive, but even as she reasoned, her body hummed with yearning.

“I’ll make my own way.” But as soon as the words were out of her mouth, she cringed; she didn’t even have enough for bus fare for the ten-mile ride to her North Hollywood mouse-hole.

“You will not.” She heard the car door open, and paused in step. “Get in before you make a scene.”

…read more of Ch 1 on wattpad . http://tinyurl.com/oh9wkl7

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Advent Calendar Day 12 #ChristmasDecorations

It's Day 12 behind the advent calendar.

Some have put their decorations up at the beginning of the month, but I like to do it around the middle of the month.

This tradition comes from having a real tree, and so it could never go in too early, otherwise it would be bare by the time Christmas arrived. We didn't have the non-dropping needle kind back when I was a kid. But even the Nordmann's go very droopy if in a hot house too long.

I will only get decorations if I can find both the boys names. These particular baubles are my favourites, having Ben and Kieran's name on them.

Now I live in a smaller house where a real tree would not fit, I have a slimline fake Christmas tree. (One day I'll be able to have a real tree again - you can't beat the smell of a real tree as you enter the room. Really does make it feel like Christmas then.)

Last year - my slimline tree!
We could put it up earlier, but because of my son's birthday, too, I like to stick to the same tradition I had as a kid and put them up around the 12th to 16th December. As we have no after school clubs, and the boys really want to help with decorating the tree, we will do it after school Monday. I can't wait! (Although it will cause some stress - maybe I'll pour myself a sherry and it won't seem so bad!)

With only 12 days to go, are you nearly ready for Christmas? Are the cards written, presents wrapped? Or do you still have more to do?





And as I promised some eye-candy, what about this guy helping out?




A little bit of Richard Armitage... as Wendy wouldn't share!