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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November for Better or Worse by Suzanne Rossi

Hi everyone.

November is not one of my favorite months. As I sit here at my kitchen table, the view outside my windows is dark, dull, and gloomy. The forecast is for rain all day, and the Memphis area is under a wind advisory. Having lived in South Florida for twenty years, I know something about wind. However, down there the strong winds usually come with a name--like Andrew, Katrina, or Wilma. So, a wind advisory for this area doesn't worry me.

Because of an unusually warm October many of the leaves left on the trees are still green. However, my lawn and pool cover are a sea of gold and brown from those already on the ground. November is a harbinger of things to come. Winter in the Mid-South is often cloudy, wet, and cold. I'm not looking forward to the next few months.

November is also my birth month. This year I turned sixty-nine, which means next year is the dreaded big 7-0! I didn't mind turning forty or fifty, but sixty was not pleasant. It signaled that sixty-five and retirement wasn't far away. It forced me to pause and think about my life. Did I accomplish what I wanted? Was there still time to accomplish more? And do I have the energy and stamina to do that? Does turning seventy mean I am officially an old woman?

I did have some positive events this past month. I ordered 8' X 10' and 5' x 7' rugs for the living room. It's a large area and needed something to soften the hardwood floors. They arrived this past weekend and look spectacular. I also bought a new sofa and love seat. It's due to be delivered the middle of next month. And then, there's the dining room table. I knew what I wanted--a square table that would seat eight. I couldn't find it anywhere, so resorted to the Internet. I don't normally like to shop on the web. I'm a hands-on type of person, but if I wanted a table in my dining room, I had no choice. I found exactly what I was looking for at Wayfair--and for a cheaper price than the furniture stores. Unfortunately, my procrastination meant that it wouldn't arrive in time for Thanksgiving. But it did finally get here and looks great.

Thanksgiving was a total success. My youngest son and his wife hosted sixteen people. Both the table and the guests groaned with all the food, which was delicious. It should have been since my son is a certified chef. I have to say that last Thursday was one of the best days I've had in a long time. Family and friends made me thankful we decided to move. My oldest son and his family will be joining us for Christmas. It'll be the first time we've all been together for any holiday in close to ten years. I can hardly wait.

So, yesterday I dedicated some time to think about this past month. Other than the weather, which I can't control, November really wasn't so bad after all. Maybe it's just getting older that makes me so reflective.

As to those questions of earlier--Have I accomplished what I wanted? Do any of us? (I have a bucket list that includes a dinner at Hell's Kitchen during filming of the show. That probably won't happen, but it's good to set goals.) Looking back on it, the answer is yes. I raised two wonderful boys who have between them given me seven wonderful grandchildren. I bloomed late with a writing career that has given me tremendous satisfaction.

Do I have more to accomplish? Oh, yes. I plan on renovating my kitchen and adding on a sunroom. I also plan to continue writing. In fact, I just signed another contract with The Wild Rose Press. Will I have the energy and stamina to succeed? I don't know. I'll find out come spring. By then I really, really hope I have all those boxes unpacked. LOL.

And no, turning seventy in 2017 means I am only old in years, not in spirit. I expect to be around for a while longer.

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was as wonderful as mine and hope your Christmas/Hannuka/Kwanza holidays will be, too.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Vintage Christmas Cards Found In An Old Family Trunk

Vintage Santa Christmas CardSeveral years ago, my mother came across an antiquated box of family Christmas cards reaching back into the early 20th century. For those of you who enjoyed the British television series, Downton Abbey, this would encompass the Edwardian era before WWI (Season One). Other cards were sent during the Great War and soon after its conclusion. Some cards may extend even further back in time. This window into the past makes me very nostalgic. Reading the messages included in these holiday greetings transports me to an age forgotten by many, but shouldn’t be.
I’ve often heard about these ancestors, fine people, and even remember some of them from my childhood. Others lived far later into my life, but began theirs when America was quite a different place. Some cards from family friends are people not known to me, but glimpsed through their greetings. These gentle folk wouldn’t be trampling each other at Walmart on Black Friday. There is a graciousness in this era, despite the World Wars, that we are losing. Hearken back with me to earlier days.
Vintage American Christmas Card--excited boy peering through windowThese cards Mom scanned are among the most colorful. Because the cost of ink was high in that era, many only had small colored images or were in black and white. To receive a truly colorful greeting would have been a real treat. I’m grateful my family saved these images and messages from a simpler, more refined time. Many of these folks lived in Virginia. Our roots in the Old Dominion go back several hundred years.
Because of my fascination with these bygone days, I’ve written two Christmas romance novellas published by The Wild Rose Press: A Warrior for Christmas (set in Colonial America) and Somewhere the Bells Ring (set in the old Virginia family homeplace in the 1960’s with flashbacks to 1918). Both eBooks are available  at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and from all other online booksellers. A Warrior for Christmas is also out in audio at Amazon.
For more on me visit my Amazon Author Page:
“Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year – and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority.”  ~W.J. Cameron
Old Christmas Card Family Scene
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder
“This is the message of Christmas:  We are never alone.”  ~Taylor Caldwell
Vintage American Christmas Card with Carolers
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  ~Charles Dickens
“Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.”  ~Washington Irving
“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”  ~Alexander Smith
Early American Christmas Card--Romantic Couple
“A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise at all,
But softly gives itself away.” ~Eva Logue
***For those of you interested in old trunks. The one containing these cards and other family memorabilia is pictured below. We think it dates from about 1870, but are not certain. If you have a better guess let me know.
old family trunk

Saturday, November 26, 2016

I'm Getting More Exercise, but ...

~~ Vonnie Davis

Three weeks ago, I found my husband unconscious on the hallway floor just outside the laundry room. He was flat on his back and for an instant I thought I'd lost him. I couldn't get him to respond as I patted his cheek. You'd think I'd be smart enough to check for a heartbeat, but I was too frightened to think.

I called 911. Evidently I must have sounded like a lunatic because two ambulances arrived. One for Calvin and I have a sneaky suspicion the other was for the crazed woman who'd gone bonkers over the phone. By then, I'd gotten Calvin to open his eyes and he was throwing up.

Diagnosis? Mild heart attack. He was in the hospital for four days while a battery of tests were run. When he was discharged, he was wearing a monitor with instructions to keep it on for two weeks before mailing it back to the lab.

Meanwhile, Calvin and his male pride insists he do things as he always did. Ride the stationary bike for an hour. Run the sweeper so I can keep writing. Empty and load the dishwasher. Putz around in the garage.

All the while my ears are listening for any strange noises. Like things going bump. When they do, I run!

Once I found him on his back in the garage with the upright freezer on top of him. He had no clue what had happened. Thank goodness the door had opened in the fall preventing the freezer's complete weight from smashing hubs. He was covered with frozen vegetables and a turkey breast on a male portion of his anatomy not up for sudden, cold bird attacks. "Get that damn breast off my..." Well, you get the picture.

He was in the den looking a word up in the dictionary when he fell asleep and Webster's hard backed edition hit the floor. I bolted into his den on a dead run. He looked at me as if I'd lost my freaking mind.

The seat on his stationary bike is hard on his skinny behind--not mine, because I bring my own padding, if you know what I mean. So, he decided to put cushioning beneath the leather seat cover. He tipped the bike over, causing an awful racket, and I sprinted into the little bedroom where the bike resides. I damn near ripped the door off its hinges.

The heart monitor showed the bottom of his heart goes into spells where it beats 4 to 10 extra beats in a row. Not enough that Calvin would feel it, but if it goes higher, like to 15, he has loss of oxygen to his brain and passes out. He's been passing out from time to time all year and no one could figure out why. Now, we know.

He's on heart medicine.

I'm on nerve pills.

Visit my website at and sign up for my newsletter. You'll get a free holiday novella, "UP THE CHIMNEY."

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


 by Judy Ann Davis

This year I’ve decided to compile seven things that I’m thankful for as a writer. As you go through the list, see how many might relate to you as well.

  1. Good health and modern medicine. We all know that a healthy lifestyle allows us, as writers, to do the things we do. Modern medicine speaks for itself with the innovations in eye care, surgeries, and latest developments in life-saving drugs.
  1. Having the ability to read and learn. How cool is it to be able to read a book and enter another world from the comfort of your home? Or learn something new from an online internet site?
  1. Opportunity to get a good education. Without a solid education in both high school and university level, I doubt I would have the skills to write all types of nonfiction and to create fiction in various genres.
  1. Technology. With the use of cellphones, computers, software packages, and internet connectivity, we can now bring the news and happenings around the world to our front porch.
  1. The freedom of speech and expression. We are a nation like no other on earth which protects the written and spoken word—even when it isn’t what we want to hear or read.
  1. Family, friends and fellow writers. These awesome folks understand and encourage us to continue to create and write, even when we get stressed or discouraged.
  1. Time alone. Everyone knows writers need to sneak away and pound the keyboard or scratch on legal tablets, allowing the thoughts inside their heads to pour out onto paper or the computer screen. We’re not being anti-social in those moments, we’re being creative. We’re being writers.
In your job or occupation, what are you thankful this Thanksgiving? Stop a moment to comment and tell me one thing you’re grateful for.  And here’s wishing you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

EXCERPT FROM:  Sweet Kiss  

Tappe picked up the grimy jar of candy hearts. "No way! I can't believe Fay saved this." He twisted off the lid and shook one into his hand.
"Neither can I. Don't you dare put that into your mouth. Those candies are over a decade old!"
"So? Sugar doesn't spoil."
"Okay, go ahead. Eat it. Poison yourself. Why should I care?" Kate said dryly. "Just don't call me in the middle of the night."
She turned back to the stove, removed the pot, and started filling the jelly jars.
"You don't mean that." He dropped the candy back into the jar and started nuzzling her on the side of her neck.
"Do you realize I'm working with hot liquids?" She tried to be stern as she squirmed away still holding the scalding pot.
But he was on a roll. "Not as hot as you are. Want to make out?"
Kate looked at him askance. "Now? Are you sane?"
"Yes, I'm fairly lucid. But if your answer is a no to making out, then can I lick the pot instead?"
"If you promise to quit licking my neck."

Find Judy Ann Davis at:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

An RV Romance

 Image from Stencil

'Tis the season and all that. We got past Halloween and now are coming up fast on Thanksgiving with Christmas in the air. Out where I live, the Christmas tree harvest trucks began running early in November. I have to wonder what those trees are like by the time they get to their homes. It's quite a business though with thousands of acres of farms where they move them by helicopters after workers cut and bundle them. 

This will be our first year to be in Oregon through the whole holiday season, and it feels a little strange. Generally speaking, part of the fall we spend in our second home in Tucson, Arizona. It is also a vacation rental; so our time there is spent doing the work that every home requires and getting it ready for January arriving snowbirds.  We then head north as they head south because for us January and February are lambing months and times of heavy feeding of livestock.

We ended up with a complication to going this year with adopting two feral cats, who had come to the farm. Because the two inside cats have not accepted the new family members, it would have been difficult to give the outdoor/indoor ones the proper care without us here. I am hopeful they will all adjust to each other... Yes, I am mostly an optimist.

Missing time, in a home and land that we love, has had an economic consolation-- renters have now booked three weeks in times we'd have generally been there. I will miss our fall and winter break in Arizona, but Christmas is never with family down there; so that's another benefit to the change in plans.  

I've had to get in the Christmas mood early with two novellas planned that  involve women of a certain age who are starting over. One knows it, and the other finds out. The interesting part of this has been that those women live over 100 years apart. The contemporary novella, Red Hawk Christmas, is set in 2014 and will be part of a series called, unsurprisingly, Women Starting Over

Red Hawk Christmas was fun to write as it took Diana, my retired teacher, in a Class C motorhome from Chicago across parts of the American West and finally to Southern Utah. 

Most of the places she stops are ones I've been and especially enjoyed. They encompass Western history and even prehistory. Diana, at 58, finds three men interested in her-- in ways she's long forgotten are possible. One though came to her dreams and when she actually saw him, the big question was what did he want.

Another rewarding aspect to writing this book was not only small town Christmases but also setting her in a place I've long wanted to spend more time. Maybe someday. For now, I had to do it through Diana and her two Chihuahuas as she enters a world very foreign to her and yet one that feels more right than she ever dreamed possible.

Snippet from Red Hawk Christmas:

     With the afternoon warming up and feeling she and her dogs needed exercise, Diana put on their leashes. She pulled on a chambray shirt over her tank top, and the three of them headed across the highway and up the streets to explore Bluff. Many of the deciduous trees had lost their leaves. A few still had remnants of brilliant yellow and rich orange leaves.

     The air held a pungent fragrance that of juniper and sage-- scents she’d first experienced when she hit the West. It stirred a feeling of wildness she’d never known. Overhead, she heard a scream. She looked up to see a red tail hawk soaring on the airwaves. She watched until he disappeared behind a bluff.
     Remembering there was supposed to be a cemetery just above the town. A few more blocks and she was there. Among the upright, interesting markers were more modern ones. She had thought it would be one place to escape Christmas, but one of the tombstones had a wreath hung over it. She read some of the names of the families who had lived out their lives in this remote spot.
     Reminders of families, of belonging, were getting to her, and she went back out the gate. Things couldn’t get worse. Then they did.

Red Hawk Christmas 99¢ until after the holidays-- available at:
and for B&N; Kobo; Apple; etc.: 


Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Few #Southern Books

By Sandra Nachlinger

I seem to read a lot of books that take place in the South. Though I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and lived near Houston for a while (and people tell me I have kept my Southern accent), it's been a long time since my home was below the Mason-Dixon line. But there must be a lingering influence from my childhood that makes these stories call to me. Here are a few I've enjoyed:

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman takes twelve-year-old CeeCee from Ohio to Georgia in this coming-of-age story. When CeeCee’s bi-polar mother (the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen) dies, the girl is sent to Savannah to be cared for by her great aunt. The aunt’s circle of eccentric friends adds humor to a touching story. I've been to the charming city of Savannah and can easily imagine all kinds of gothic, convoluted stories taking place among the moss-draped oaks and stately mansions. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil couldn't have taken place anywhere else!

Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle is one of about a dozen books in the series by Ann B. Ross. I've read eight of these books and enjoyed the antics of this spry senior citizen of small-town Abbotsville. Miss Julia is a fine, Presbyterian woman who knows what's right and what's wrong and doesn't mind taking action to fix whatever's askew. The series starts when her church-going banker husband dies, and she discovers he led a secret life—complete with young mistress and son! Miss Julia does the right thing and takes the woman and child into her home, and her orderly life is never the same.

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg takes place in small-town Point Clear, Alabama. At age 59, Sookie Poole learns that she was adopted and everything she believes to be true about her ancestry is a lie. This book is about how Sookie deals with that shocking information. Should she track down her birth mother? Should she confess her knowledge to the demanding woman who raised her? What does she tell her children? With her trademark humor and insight, Fannie Flagg weaves Sookie's story with that of her birth mother, an aviatrix who served in the WASPs in World War II.

Dorothea Benton Frank's The Hurricane Sisters takes place in the Low Country of South Carolina. This story focuses not only on the relationship between three generations of women but also deals with abuse of women and date rape. 

Do you tend to buy books that are set in a certain region or during a certain era? If so, what appeals to you?

Map source:
By User:Gator87 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Season for Family Traditions is Here - Are You Ready?

We all have family traditions. Some we develop with new families, some are carried down through the generations. In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Such was the first Thanksgiving, although it's doubtful they called it that.

This week we began planning our own Thanksgiving dinner. We lean toward a more Southern menu, I think. Starting with the oven roasted turkey, we add ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy and dressing -- not stuffing -- cornbread dressing. Dessert includes pumpkin, chocolate, and pecan pies. In the last few years, my daughter has been making cheesecakes that would give any one's efforts a run for their money. This year she's making plain and a pecan and chocolate combination that sounds sinful.

 All of our immediate family will be going to my niece's house, including our daughter and her husband, our son and his wife and our three grandchildren, two nieces and husbands, and my sister-in-law. Each family will bring a dish. The atmosphere will be chaotic and tremendous fun. Family.

Usually on the day after, when everyone has gone home and my husband has left for the deer lease, I begin decorating for Christmas. Putting up the tree and all the decorations usually takes about a week. It seems I'm always finding additional trinkets to put out. Thankfully a few years ago we bought a pre-lit tree. Best decision we've made in a long time.

I'm fairly certain that our family traditions, including the decorated tree, started, at least, as far back as the late 1700's to early 1800's. The trees through the years have come in all shapes and sizes. Growing up we had short ones, tall ones, fir, white plastic and a cedar that my dad cut for us late one night. It was such an adventure having daddy cut down our own tree, that is, until we saw the sign saying we were on land belonging to a state park! It was pretty and smelled wonderful.

My husband and I started our family's tree tradition with a Lionel train set, and a town consisting of a farm house, train station and Santa with reindeer. While the placement and additions have changed throughout the last 40 years, it's content remains circa 1955. The Santa and Reindeer are from my husband's youth, and the farm house was made by his great-grandfather. Tradition. The following shots are from our tree last year.

I'd like to share with you, now, my new short story on Amazon called, A BRIDE FOR CHRISTMAS. It takes place in San Antonio, Texas on the River Walk.

Lucy Martinez has dreamed of being a Christmas Bride ever since Special Forces Soldier, Jason Scott, popped the question. Jason has assured Lucy he will be at the altar to say I Do no matter what, but will a blizzard on Christmas Eve prevent him from making it home to keep his promise?

To celebrate the season, and for a chance to win some Amazon cheer, I have two $5 gift cards for comments on what your Thanksgiving plans and traditions are. Inquiring minds want to know!

Happy Thanksgiving,