Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from Cari Lynn Webb

My plans for the day include: cooking, eating and eating some more. My mom makes a fabulous apple pie. We'll throw in several rounds of cards as we have a rather intense family game of 31 going (although we do keep recycling the winnings for the next game so it seems my family wants to claim the title of winner more than add to their wallet, which is rather convenient because we only play with quarters. :) I'm thankful for another holiday that I get to share with my family and friends -another day to be together, laugh and add to the memory bank.

Let me know what your plans are for the day ... I love adding new things to my holidays :)

Happy Thanksgiving!
Cari Lynn Webb

THE CHARM OFFENSIVE by Cari Lynn Webb is out now! 

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What do you bring?

            As expected, our attentions are shifting into holiday mode. Second up: Thanksgiving (I consider Halloween as the first indicator of holiday time). Who doesn’t like Thanksgiving? Probably 50% of the female population. It’s a lot of work, but the payoffs are tremendous.
            This year my family is going to a friend’s house for dinner. We are each bringing a dish and a wine. My assignment is my usual green bean casserole as well as pumpkin pies and rolls.
            So how do you do Thanksgiving? Do you prepare the entire meal? Do you ask guests to contribute? Do you go out to a restaurant? If you go to someone’s house, do you bring your specialty dish? And what is it?
            Every Thanksgiving gives us plenty of memories to reflect on in the coming year. One of my memories involves a cute little Schnauzer I once had. This dog couldn’t eat turkey. I would tell everyone that, but still tiny bites would find their way to Shaney’s mouth under the table. For three years in a row, I spent Thanksgiving night at the emergency pet care hospital. Ah…the memories. Hope you'll share one of yours.
            Hope your day is happy and full of wonderful bites.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Relationships...Thanksgiving Day and Every Day

Anyone who has lived with a Labrador retriever knows these dogs are easy to train and eager to please. So when my yellow lab companion of seven years began to ignore me I wondered what was going on.

"Sunny. Here, girl." Instead of galloping to the back door this summer, she stood in the driveway and stared me down. Her big brown eyes said "Why?".

On our daily walks, I began to dread the appearance of other dog walkers. Not because Sunny wanted to fight. Sunny wanted to say hello! She would pull, and pull, and pull, until she was nose to nose with the newcomer. Visitors to our home were subjected to seventy-five pounds of jumping dog and multiple tongue swipes.

Something had to be done.

A search of the internet turned up a local kennel club class called SOS - Social Obedience Training. Lucky for me, the class started the following Monday.

I wasn't sure how Sunny would behave in a roomful of dogs and owners.

She loved it!

Class started with the basic commands and lots of treats. Sit, down, stay, leave it. Sunny and I had practiced these commands when she was a puppy, but we hadn't reviewed them for a long time.

Accustomed to having her around the house and usually working on the computer, I hadn't been throwing the ball or even talking to her very much. But after each class she became more and more responsive. Monday nights she seemed to know where we were going and eagerly jumped into the car. When I saw how happily she responded to the training and attention, I realized something. I had been ignoring my dog!

Often while apologizing to company for my jumping dog, I would joke she doesn't get any attention, because that is indeed how she acted. After seeing how she perked up in class, I'm afraid I was on to something.

I realized something else, too. The same thing applies to all relationships. Spouses or significant others, parents and children, old friends and new...every human being craves attention and praise. Like a Christmas poinsettia we forget to water after the holidays, our relationships can wither, too.

The upcoming holidays provide us with an opportunity to put this theory into action. Maybe you're not a fan of Aunt Zoe's fruitcake, but acknowledging the time and skill that went in to making it with a hearty "Thanks, Aunt Zoe!" goes a long way to reinforcing your familial ties. It's the human version of  Good Dog!.

Couples with small children often arrange a regular date night for a chance to focus on each other without the demands of the little ones. With Thanksgiving two days away, we have the perfect opportunity to focus on strengthening our relationships.

Sunny is back to her old chasing-the-ball, tail-wagging self. She is much better behaved on our walks and at the door. She just wanted some attention and praise for doing a good job.

And really, isn't that what we all want?

As always, enjoy the read and Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃

Monday, November 20, 2017

Who Else Doesn't Like Change?

You know the old saying, change is hard. I have to admit, I’m no exception. I tell people I’m flexible. Between you and me, that’s a lie. While I do try my best, the truth is I resist change and refuse to adapt without a fight − something that isn’t always in my best interest.

The past few years have seen a lot of changes for me, both good and bad. I left the corporate world to write full-time from home. I got married. I sold my house (which I loved) and moved into my husband’s house (which I don’t love). My daughter relocated to another state because of her job. My mother moved from her home of thirty-four years into a senior living community. Two surgeries in the past year have wreaked havoc with my schedule and required me to put in months and months of physical therapy. But the biggest change for me, and that’s only because it affects me on a daily basis, is my husband’s work schedule. Seriously, he’s driving me crazy!

As I mentioned above, I’m a creature of habit. I have a routine that’s worked well for many, many years. I’m a morning writer. I feel freshest in the a.m. hours when my creativity is at its peak. I like to get up, putter around the house for a bit, feed the pets, get my caffeine infusion, and soon after that plant myself in my chair and start writing. This works well for me because I tend to slow down in the afternoon, suffering a serious energy dip around 3:00. While I can manage a short burst in the late afternoon, by evening my mind is mush and I’m ready to relax a while before bed.

Here’s the problem with my husband (and truly he’s a wonderful guy with few faults). His schedule is constantly changing. When we were first dating, it changed every six months. Then, a year ago, he was promoted to a brand new position. Great, right? Yeah, except now his schedule differs literally from one moment to the next. He may start early today and late tomorrow. This week, his shift is four 10-hour days, next week his shift is five 8-hour days. He’ll go in Monday through Thursday in October and Tuesday through Saturday in November.

Argh! I have no time to adjust before the next change. Do I wait and have dinner with him at 9 p.m. or eat early and feed him leftovers? Get up with him at 4:30 in the morning or sleep in to a more reasonable hour? Plans are impossible to make until the last minute because who knows if he’ll be scheduled that day or not? Worst of all, there are days when he’s around and under foot during my preferred writing time. I’ll be typing away and he’ll suddenly wander into my office, sit in the chair and stare at me. When I ask what he wants, he replies, “Oh, just checking in on you.” By then, my concentration is completely shot. I don’t mean to complain, but for those of us who suffer from mild OCD, being in a constant state of flux is a form or torture.

Tell me, how do you adjust to change? I’m open to any suggestions as I’m seeing more changes in the near future – he recently mentioned the possibility of some short work trips coming up.

Warmest wishes,

Cathy McDavid

In the third grade, NY Times and USA Today best-selling author Cathy McDavid made it her goal to read every Black Stallion book ever written. Who knew such an illustrious ambition would eventually lead to a lifelong love of all things western and a career writing contemporary romances for Harlequin? With over 1.3 million books sold, Cathy is also a member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll. An “almost” Arizona  native, she lives with her own real-life sweetheart and spends her days penning stories about good looking cowboys riding the range, busting a bronc, and sweeping gals off their feet. It a tough job, but she’s willing to make the sacrifice.

Friday, November 17, 2017

5 Tips for the Pre-Holiday De-Cluttering by Sophia Sasson

My house is the cleanest and best looking right before we have company. Those few moments before guests show up, I always wonder why my house can’t look like that all the time. The answer of course is the never ending clutter of daily life. The junk mail that piles on the kitchen counter, the haphazardly hung coats and mismatched gloves in the entry, the desk papers and pens that seems to multiply overnight.

It doesn’t help that my kids, husband and I are all pack rats. I am too sentimental to get rid of things; my husband is convinced that he can repurpose every broken electronic gadget or appliance we have; and my kids have the worst of both of our traits.

So what do we do?

I don’t have all the answers but here are 5 things that work for me:
    Image result for clothes donation
  1. Donate clothes. Marie Kondo says  “discard anything that doesn't spark joy.” Great advice except for the sentimental ones like me who has kept the running team t-shirt from high school. Then there’s the advice to throw out anything you haven’t worn in a year. But what about that high school t-shirt? What worked for me is finding a local charity that has a list of high need clothing. They post pictures on their website of how donations of clothes help abused women looking for jobs. While it won’t get me to give up that high school t-shirt, I will let go of that super expensive suit that I haven’t fit into for 4 years but really hope to squeeze into someday.
  2. Kids toys. If you have young kids, the toys take over your house. A simple rule has really helped us get things under control. For every new toy my kids get, they must donate 2 old ones. They don’t even get to open Christmas presents until the requisite number of toys are in the donation box.
  3.  Kids art work and Adult post cards and keepsakes. That beautiful masterpiece created with love…times 400. Yes it’s adorable but there are lots more like it. I have an “art wall.” When it’s full, the kids have to take something down to add a new piece. If it’s really special, you can keep it or better yet take a picture of it for permanent keepsake. This works for all the postcards and other keepsakes adults have a hard time disposing of too.Related image
  4. The desk. I don’t understand where all the pens and papers come from but I send the pens to the kids school PTA. They often need it for crafts and events. Or throw them out. Especially the ones that don’t work. The papers—I can’t say I’m good about it but I have a triage system. Each piece must get filed, trashed, or dealt with by the end of the week. Coupons go in the car because I’m rarely walking to the store. 
  5. The entryway. We all do it. While we have one coat we usually wear, there are at least 2 jackets and 3-4 pairs of shoes per person in the entryway closet. Enforce the limit of 1. Yes I know, easier said than done. Try requiring the offender to pay a $1 per day fine for going over the limit. Then you can buy even more stuff to clutter your house. Just kidding.
A Heartwarming Thanksgiving: Snow Day Baby\Wedding at Turkey Run\Her Thanksgiving Soldier\Mr. Right All Along\Falling for the Cowboy\The Marriage Gift by [Vastine, Amy, Flaherty, Liz, Riker, Leigh, Snow, Jennifer, Sasson, Sophia, Quinn, Tara Taylor, Melinda Curtis, Karen Rock] At the end of the day, also remember to embrace the clutter. I remember life before kids when my house was pristine and looked like a model showpiece. Now it looks like a home. The clutter is what gives it the lived in warm and fuzzy feeling. Do what you can and cut yourself a break if you don’t get through it all.

I hope everyone has a great thanksgiving. Please don’t forget to check out the amazing November and December heartwarming releases and for those who want a little bit of themed reading, check out the thanksgiving anthology—at $0.99 it’s a heartwarming bargain.

I love hearing from readers, feel free to sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

So tell me, do you have a clutter nightmare or a decluttering tip for all of us?


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Gratefulness and unanswered prayers

by Helen DePrima

Thankfulness can take many forms. I hark back to a Garth Brooks song: "Thank God for Unanswered Prayers." I think of the times in my life when a loss turned out to be a gain, a disappointment made way for a greater good.

I never knew my mother; she died the day I was born, possibly an anesthesia death. I like to think she simply went to sleep at the happiest moment of her life, expecting to wake holding her new baby. Sometimes growing up, I dreamed about her, the dark-haired young woman in snapshots and portraits whose smile seemed to light my whole small world. A sad tale, except that I grew up with my grandparents and aunt on their Kentucky farm, a story-book childhood of fields and woods, horses and pet goats and lambs, kittens and chickens, with five cousins living barely a stone’s throw away.

Because I fell in love with all things Western after a dude ranch visit, I attended the University of Colorado with the express goal of finding a cowboy to marry. I should have done better research; all the cowboys were forty miles north at Colorado State. Instead I married an Italian from New Jersey, a husband who would go through fire or flood for me. With fifty years of marriage behind us, I have sense enough to be thankful for my unanswered prayer that brought me with him to New Hampshire rather than my earlier fantasy of life in Colorado.

After spending the better part of a year back home in Kentucky caring for my elderly aunt who raised me, I tried to write a personal account of returning to my childhood home, this time as the parent. A total non-starter – instead, I turned it into a novel of what my aunt’s life should have been except for giving up a Navy career to take my mother’s place. I’m proud of that book, which gave me the confidence to embark on my Cameron’s Pride series for Heartwarming.

Sometimes, the road not taken, the opportunity abandoned, deserve as much gratefulness as the way our lives do play out. Thank God for Unanswered Prayers

by Liz Flaherty

Helen and I wanted to visit Thanksgiving because, after all, it's November. I loved her path to thankfulness with all the twists and turns in it that make life so interesting. It also make me think of some of my own experiences with life happening while I was making other plans.
  • I wanted to move far away from where I grew up, where it was flat and boring and I'd had a less-than-happy childhood. I have spent the last 40 years living five miles from the house where I grew up. I love it there.
  • As I grew up, I gave little thought to having children. There would be plenty of time for that later. After I'd had all the other adventures I wanted to have, perhaps I would have one. No more than two. Instead, I had three--all by the time I was 23. Thank goodness.
  • I'm afraid of water. To the point of always preferring a shower to a tub. So one of my first post-retirement adventures was parasailing. Over the Gulf of Mexico. Or heaven, however you want to look at it.
  • One day in 1979, I skipped a day of work to take a civil service test an hour away from home. I never expected anything to come of it (other than losing a day's pay), but I passed the test--with less than flying colors--and went to work at the Post Office two years later. I retired after 30 years. 
In actuality, not much has gone according to plan. Not my plan, anyway. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

When is it too early for Christmas? by Syndi Powell

When is it too early for Christmas?  by Syndi Powell

I've been watching Christmas movies since before Halloween. I've also been listening to Christmas audiobooks since August. I can't help it. I love Christmas. The sense of anticipation and expectation. Family togetherness. And the belief that miracles could happen.

Not everyone starts celebrating Christmas as early as I do. In fact, there have been several memes on Facebook warning people not to start Christmas music before Thanksgiving. But I'll let you in on a secret: I've had it playing for weeks.

So when is the right time to start decorating for Christmas? To play Josh Groban's "Noel"? To watch "It's a Wonderful Life?" Is there a time limit for these things?

My dad worked retail at Montgomery Wards when I was little back in the early 1970s, and the store would start playing Christmas carols on November 1st. Christmas merchandise was brought out at the end of October before Halloween. So those who argue that retailers are starting the holidays sooner every year have a short memory. Retailers were ALWAYS early.

While I might not want every day to be Christmas, I don't think there is a set day that makes it acceptable to start celebrating. I also believe that it's different for everyone. There are some like me who start early before Thanksgiving. My mom waits to play Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. I have some friends who wait until December 1st or later.

I'm going to go back to watching my Hallmark Christmas movies and drinking my hot chocolate. And I'm sharing the photo of the ornament my dad made when he was just a kid. It's been in our family for over 60 years:

So when do you start celebrating Christmas?