Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy 2012!

The Playfriends hope everyone has a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Food for thought

I am taking a "Me Vacation" to both have a good time and to do some soul searching. I find the mountains are a great place to sort things out. After several dry years in the writing department I am quite discouraged. I saw this on someone's Facebook and decided it was good food for thought for the new year.

I'm working on a cranky old laptop that shuts down whenever it takes a notion to, so that's all for my blog today since ole laptop could close at any moment.

Have a Happy New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I refuse to bow to the pressure... sort of. Maybe. (Or at least I'll try...)

I think people put too much pressure on themselves, in general. We all try to be perfect moms, perfect wives, perfect businesswomen... We want to have it all, do it all, and we want to do it all well. And though we all know we should give ourselves a little bit of slack, we still tend to feel guilty that we can't. Or don't.

Maybe because I have a strong practical streak -- or more likely a lazy streak -- or the fact that Counselor Shelley is only a phone call away, I tend to approach things with the knowledge that it won't be perfect and that not-perfect is perfectly okay.

Unfortunately, that means I've set the bar lower and feel even worse when I still manage to fall short... Sigh.

I got the Christmas cards done and thought I'd save myself a stamp or two by taking the family cards to the family Christmas party on the 17th and give them out there. Guess what I found when I finally cleaned out the bag I took with me? Yep, the Christmas cards. I handed out presents and totally forgot about the cards. And because I was too lazy to put everything away when I got home that night, I didn't even find the cards until it was too late to mail them in time for Christmas.

I hosted a nice Christmas party -- carefully planning food and drinks -- only to find something I meant to serve in the fridge today. (And I had to put my office off-limits because I didn't get it cleaned before the party.)

I never did get around to making candies with AC -- once it became clear that we wouldn't be leaving goodies out for Santa this year, getting the goodies made kind of fell by the wayside.

There were other small things that didn't get done or didn't happen the way I wanted them to, but we still had a good holiday. I should be pleased and happy with that. But I can't shake the guilt that comes from knowing that even with my expectations kept low, I still failed to meet them. Some days it seems like I just suck at this whole thing.

But today I decided that that's just me. The way I am. Add it to my list of strange hang-ups and neuroses. I suck at some stuff. At least I realize that I excel at others -- or at least land in the top quarter percentile. Hey, I even made gluwine this year -- without a recipe! -- and it turned out more awesome than I hoped.

We don't have to be perfect at everything -- or anything, for that matter. We just have to try. Points are given for effort, and all good intentions count. I got a lot of awesome presents for Christmas this year, but this is the one I gave myself. The gift of acceptance. I do the best I can, with what I've got. I'm not setting the bar lower; I'm being realistic. And the true reality is that we all can't vault over that bar every time.

Now, if you all will just remind me of this around next November, I'd greatly appreciate it. It will make my holidays a lot less stressful... ~grin~


Monday, December 26, 2011

Gifts, Gifts, Everywhere!!!!

What's the best gift you've ever received?

I recently saw something that asked this question, and it got me to thinking… I could answer this in a lot of ways! I could be funny (my dancing Frosty the Snowman); I could be sentimental (my husband and children); I could be religious (Jesus is the Reason for the Season); I could be sexy (um, I can’t say that out loud); I could be sarcastic (except I don’t really know how to be); I could be picky (Do you mean of all time? That’s a long time to remember! What about just from the past year?). It all depends on how you want to answer the question.

I’m usually a sentimental kind of girl. I tend to go for the Ahhhh moments. My husband and children truly are gifts. I’ve been married for almost half my life, and I’m grateful God gave me such a wonderful husband so young. I’ve always called my children my “Little Miracles”, because I suffered from infertility and had 3 miscarriages while trying to have them. I’m very grateful they are a part of our lives, and healthy, and relatively happy.

I’m not really a sarcastic type of writer, but I am a sexy kind of writer. Unfortunately, I’m not willing to share those details. ;) And we try to keep religion and politics off the blog as much as possible. I do actually have a Frosty the Snowman who dances and sings. We bring him out each Christmas. I’ve also kept my very first Homey Claus gift (my husband’s family’s version of an anonymous amusing gift that makes fun of something about you or that you’ve done in the past year). “Homey Claus” gifted me with my husband’s childhood step stool that says “Step up to be tall, Step down to be small” – the joke is I’m 5 foot tall as an adult and the words still apply to me. We still have that stool and currently use it so I can kiss my son goodnight in his new bunkbed.

But with my horrible memory, I tend to go with something fairly recent. We don’t go over the top with gifts at Christmas, but my hubby is great with the surprises! This is my favorite kind of gift. One year he gave me an iPhone (which I didn’t even know I wanted and now am addicted to!). One year he gave me a wonderful oil heater for my office, which is freezing in the wintertime (but not anymore!). I have many of those great, “Oh Wow” memories thanks to him! And this year the Playfriends surprised me with a combination birthday/Christmas present: my Kindle! I never saw that one coming, but I love, love, love it!

So how about you? How would you answer that question? Did you get an extra special Christmas gift this year?


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Muppet Bells

I know its Christmas Eve and few if any people will stop by today, but if you do, here's a little holiday treat.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Playfriends!

The Playfriends wish you all a very happy, healthy and safe holiday season!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Odds and Ends

I don't know about y'all, but I'm so not ready for Christmas. I thought I was close...and if I think about it all logically, I probably am. But logic isn't factoring into my current panic. So I'm going to keep this short and sweet today and just touch on a bunch of stuff that doesn't really deserve a blog of it's own.

How is it that no matter my effort one of my kids still ends up with more presents than the other? I even have a frickin' list and somehow it still happens. What's funny is that it seems to change. Last year it was Baby Girl. This year it's Sweet Pea. Which means one more trip to an overcrowded shopping center.

And along those same lines, we visited Santa's Village last night with the girls. Baby Girl filled out a letter to Santa...which had only 1 item on it that her original list had. Most of the stuff I'd never even heard of. Luckily I need to pick up a few more things for her. Unfortunately, I have a feeling the thing she put as #1 is probably the hot item of the year and completely unavailable. *bangs head on desk*

Yesterday I found out that Bring It On - my Feb release - is being made into an audio book. I have to admit to a certain amount of giddiness at learning this. Someone's going to be reading my words aloud. I'm debating whether or not I'm going to listen to it. I've bought audio books before and part of me wants to hear them say my name as the author.

And the cover for my March release - Take It Down - is finally here. Yay! I have to say I love this cover.

Do you have any odds and ends you want to share? Are you ready for Christmas? Are you one of those people with all the presents wrapped and waiting under the tree?


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Make a Joyful Noise

I know, I know. I'm not putting in enough effort with today's blog. It's something I saw on someone else's Facebook post. But I've watched it numerous times. I showed it to my two girlfriends who came over for dinner last Saturday night and we laughed til we cried.

So I'm sharing it with you. For me it brings back memories of not only my childhood Christmas pageants, but those of my children too. I've always said that the folks who do children's pageants and children's sermons are either the bravest people on earth or the dumbest. You never, ever know what kids will say or do. I can still remember the little poem I had to recite as part of a group:

We are little candles, spreading rays of light.
Telling all the world that Christ is born tonight.

I posted half that on Facebook and tagged my sister. Without missing a beat, she provided the other half. Amazing what you'll remember decades later, huh?

My older son was in the children's choir at church and on Christmas Eve they'd sing not only religious songs but secular ones too. To this day, thanks to him, when I sing "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" I change the lyrics to "... then one froggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say...."

My ex-husband tells about the kid in one of his childhood Christmas pageants who took his shepherd's crook, clasped it in both hands and made machine-gun noises as he pointed it at the manger.

Anyway, I bring you one of the funniest Christmas pageant videos I've seen. And after you finish watching and dry your tears (and maybe your drawers too), tell us about your experience with Christmas pageants.

This little girl certainly gives new meaning to the phrase "Make a joyful noise." And note that the baby Jesus is a real baby who slept through the entire performance. Perhaps they swaddled his/her ears well.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Not quite holiday magic...

I’m rather sad. The era of Santa has officially passed at Casa PC. AC asked us point-blank, and I wasn’t going to lie. I don’t know who was more disappointed: AC or me and the Geek.

AC is 10, and she’s quite smart, so I know she’s been doubtful for several years. But AC is also a dreamer and an optimist who really wants to believe, so I knew she wouldn’t give up the idea without a fight. I mean, this is a child who grew up knowing that the answer to every question is only a Google search away. If she’d wanted confirmation – but didn’t want to directly ask – she’d have looked it up. She didn’t want to know.

We’ve loved doing Santa over the years – well, the Geek’s a little tired of Santa getting the credit – but we’ve created our own traditions and made some wonderful memories. But while I’ll miss doing Santa, what really makes me sad is that the loss of Santa marks the end of an era. The end of the age of innocence. Children get to believe in magic. They get to wonder at the world, and the world must be good if someone like Santa exists. Now that magic is muted for my child. The world is a little less wonderous and awesome now.

These tween years are awkward. She’s definitely not a child anymore, but she’s not nearly grown up either. And now that Santa is just a myth, she’s now on the adults’ team and she has the responsibility to not ruin the joy for other children. But she’s still a little girl who was sad to have her suspicions confirmed.

So Christmas will be different for us this year. Still joyful and magical, but not as magical as it used to be. My little girl is growing up. I’m glad. But I’m sad too.

But as we move into this new stage, we’ll make new memories and traditions. And hopefully, some new magic.

I hope you all have a joyful and magical holiday.

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's a Date!


December is a very unusual month for our family – not only do we have Christmas and holiday hoopla, but my hubby’s birthday is Christmas Day. I try to make this a totally different celebration for him, because my birthday is important to me. I enjoy being treated especially nice by my family and given the day off from chores and housework. He should be able to feel the same way, and that’s hard to do when you’re running from one house to the other and helping prepare for a crowd to descend around here.

I’ve done this in different ways – picked a random day for us to celebrate, celebrate the day after Christmas when he’s off work, and one year I even threw him a surprise party in October. It was definitely a surprise!

This year, when I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said (after a bit of thought) that he really wanted for the two of us to go out alone. (Awwwwwww…..)

We don’t get to do this very often because of his crazy work schedule, overworked babysitters, and the biggest issue… What Do We Go Do?

Our town isn’t overflowing with romantic options, so we usually opt for dinner and/or a movie. We both love to go to the movies and getting to go together is a special treat. Luckily, we enjoy a lot of the same types of movies. I can just imagine us as an old retired couple going to the dollar theater every week as our “special” outing.

But sometimes you want to break out of the mould, and birthdays seem to be the perfect time for that. Only I don’t have enough money at Christmas for spas, trips, or BIG dates.

There has to be something in between, right? Any ideas? What’s you and your significant other’s favorite Go To dates? What’s the most fun or most romantic or most simple date you’ve been on? I’d love some ideas!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Carols: The Game

A couple years back, I posted my ten favorite Christmas carols. That kicked off a lively discussion about hippopotami, ruffies and an all-around hatred for Christmas Shoes. This year, I'm going to play a game with you guys. A Christmas Carol lyrics game. And you get to not just guess, but help us try go stump others. We'll play this kinda like our alphabet or wish stomping game... when you guess the answer, you also list a lyric for the next folks to guess.

So... if I post "No crocodiles or rhinoceros-es-es. I only like hippopotamus-es-es. And hippopotamuses like me too!"

You post your answer - "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas"

Then you post the next carol lyric. "He led them down the streets of town right to the traffic cop."

The next person guesses "Frosty the Snowman" and we continue. Got it? Hopefully we can play trivia all day! Okay, here's the first song lyric...

"I did a dance on mommy's plants, climbed a tree and tore my pants, filled that sugar bowl with ants, somebody snitched on me!"

Let the games begin! One lucky player will win a Christmas anthology! (although, admittedly, I probably won't ship it until after Christmas.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Best of the Bookshelf - December

This month Smarty Pants is reading The Power & The Glory by our very own Kimberly Lang.

The Marshalls series continues with sexy older brother and political hotshot Brady. The running of his father's campaign was going well until he got handcuffed to Aspyn Breedlove - a hippie activist with a mission. He's got no choice but to diffuse the scandal by bring Aspyn aboard the campaign. Of course, the closer the better when the sparks start to fly between the two of them. A great read, giftwrapped for the holiday!

Playground Monitor is reading Space in His Heart by Roxanne St. Claire.

This book’s prologue is set on July 8, 2011, the actual date of the last Space Shuttle launch. The book then hops back twelve years to the day when PR star Jessica Malone was tasked to improve NASA’s image because nobody cared about space anymore. Her plan? Make NASA sexy by taking hotter-than-the-surface-of-the-sun astronaut Deke Stockard and turning him into the space program’s poster boy. Deke isn’t thrilled at all even if he does find Jessica attractive. He’s focused on the next launch and a safety issue that could spell disaster, but he’s ordered to take part in the campaign.

SPACE IN HIS HEART is only available now as an e-book but will soon become available in book form. As a former Shuttle contract worker and huge fan of the space program, this book gets a definite thumbs up from me. It’s a fast-paced read that leaves you with a big smile on your face at the end.

Angel is reading Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton

Dante Renaldi comes home for what he thinks will be a family reunion, but finds himself facing the events of the worst night of his life. Now he has to track down a killer while trying to protect his own dark secrets. Detective Anna Pallino was once in love with Dante, until he saved her life then disappeared. Now she’s faced with the deaths of those closest to her. Can she trust him again? Or has he brought the danger home with him? I really love Jaci’s spitfire heroines and the darkness of her suspenses. Those who love those strong heroes and the women who reel them in will really enjoy this story!

Problem Child is reading On the First Night of Christmas by Heidi Rice

I know that Heidi is my shelfmate this month, and I should really expand my horizons, but I’ve been sitting on this for a month while I finished my own book. There is a day – very soon – when I, this book, and a cup of tea are going to share a great afternoon under an afghan on the couch. Since I haven’t read it yet, I can’t offer any insights -- beyond “Heidi has never written a book that wasn’t fab” – so I’ll give you the back blurb instead.

Cassie's tips for the Perfect Christmas Fling!
1. 'Tis the season to be daring: Find the perfect Mr. Right Now (extra points for a bad-boy-turned-billionaire) and be brave about getting him—even if that means jumping straight into sexy Jace Ryan's car!
2. Enjoy the ride: Once you've chosen your man, get swept away by the moment! For once, Cassie's determined to stop worrying about the future, but she must remember one thing…
3. This fling is just for Christmas: Jace Ryan's a seasonal special. Do not start falling for him, Cassie, no matter how perfect the package or how much you've enjoyed unwrapping it.…

And I'm reading Crave by Melissa Darnell

A great start to a new YA series, Crave was an easy, enjoyable read. Set against the backdrop of a normal high school experience, we soon learn that there's more to the inhabitants of this small town and the group of people - the Clann - that run it. Darnell pits two very different worlds against each other with Savannah Colbert and Tristan Coleman caught in the middle. I'm looking forward to the next installment of the series.

Share with us what you're reading this month. Looking forward to any new releases?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

D*&%! I Got Autocorrected

PC Magazine defines autocorrect as "A feature that corrects misspellings and makes other grammatical changes on the fly." Those of you with smartphones know what it is. You type in "wil;" and it will autocorrect to "will."

But sometimes it fails. Like last Saturday night when I posted "And the Heisman doesn't go up anyone from Alabama."

I didn't pay attention to what posted until the next morning when a friend from church commented, "go UP? go up where? Maybe I don't want to know?"

Oh. My. Goodness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was supposed to be "go to anyone from Alabama." To. TO. TO

My only other big autocorrect failure was when I got my job and posted something to the effect that the job was good, but God was gooder. Autocorrect doesn't recognize "gooder" and corrected it to the word folder. God is folder. Huh?

At least I haven't had any of the massive fails documented on the hilarious website Damn You Auto Correct.

This website is not safe for work. Not only does it contain words that are often inappropriate, it's so stinking funny you'll end up laughing til you cry. And ya don't want your boss coming around asking why you are cackling like a hen laying an egg.

I just wonder if the person or persons who invented autocorrect are laughing as much. I mean, they've created a monster. According to one online source (and we all know how reliable THOSE are), autocorrect wasn't was developed by Microsoft to be used in word processing programs. And from there it has spread to smartphones.

I just wonder how Microsoft gets around the child labor laws because I'm convinced a fourteen-year-old boy in the throes of puberty came up with the autocorrect replacement vocabulary. I mean, how else would "congrats" become "bong rats?" How does an "destination" become "dusty jockitch?" "I'm selling the fridge to my roommate" became a drug deal when autocorrect substituted "drugs" for "fridge."

I ain't making this stuff up, folks. And I'm keeping it clean. Some of it would make a sailor blush.

And just to prove I am not lying, here's a photo of my own screen. In case my mother is reading, I'm still alive and kicking. No autopsy required.

Have you been autocorrected? What's your best (or worst depending on how you look at it)?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How I spent my Thanksgiving...

I swam with dolphins!!!!!!!!

It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. They are such amazing creatures -- smart, playful, and very graceful. (They're also much bigger than I expected!)

Dolphin ride!!

Seconds before I got dunked... I didn't hear the instruction that said "Keep your head up!"

Dolphin kisses!!

We felt like part of the family...

Thanks to the trainers at Dolphin Cove in Key Largo, FL for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And many thanks to Julie and Samantha for letting us play with them. (And to Samantha's 5 mo old baby, Issac, who occasionally swam around to see what we were doing. There's precious little in this world cuter than a baby dolphin wanting to play with you...)

It certainly beat cooking a turkey...

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Best of Intentions...

I’ve been trying to be ultra-careful with my time right now, because I’m working the day job and doing a hard push on writing and submitting. But recently, I got roped into something extra, and I’m not even sure how it all happened.

My daughter joined the band this year – her first year in middle school. I’m glad, because she’s taken a huge interest in it and the band has given her a nice friend-base to draw from. I’ve attended the Band Parent meetings and tried to stay informed.

Recently it was brought to the parents’ attention that the band was hosting their annual holiday dance and I thought, “Oh, I could coordinate that! But no! Too much time!” So I settled for an offer to decorate the cafeteria that night. The very overwhelmed Band Parent Association President gratefully accepted. Two weeks later I go into the band room to inspect the decorations they already had and was blindsided by the band director’s instructions on what needed to be done for the entire dance. Confused, I tried to pass along the info to the BPA President and… I’m way too nice for my own good.

Now I’m in charge of everything and the volunteers who volunteered to help aren’t, well, doing the volunteer tasks according to my schedule (which is really tight because I was left with only 2 weeks to pull this thing together!).

Needless to say, I’m stressed and irritated with myself for letting this go this far. But I’m justifying it with assurances that I will have done my duty and won’t have to contribute anything big for the major fundraiser next year. Seriously. I won’t.

Ever get dragged into something and not understand how it happened? I’m totally there! Pray for me as I do all the last minute organizing for a night of dancing for an entire middle school – and commiserate with your own “how did I get here from there?” stories!


Friday, December 09, 2011

Christmas Favorites

It's that time of year again. Sometime soon, I will gather in a kitchen with my mom and Little Sister and we'll bake up a storm. In the past, I've shared recipes for some of our favorites. Oreo Truffles always go over well. The Kiss Mice are fun for kids to make. This year, I'm sharing another one I love. I sent these to my editor this summer as a thank you for rescuing my book from slush. I can't say I've gotten preferential treatment, but it sure didn't hurt. These cookies rock.

I've struggled to find a good oatmeal cookie recipe. The one in my kitchen bible (AKA the red and white Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook) always came out hard and crumbly. I wanted soft, decadent oatmeal cookies. And I found them. I can't take credit for these... they're Paula Deen... but that means you know they're good.

Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (Optional - I left them out and it was fine, just added more raisins)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Brown Butter Icing, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease 1 or more cookie sheets. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar in a bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until mixture is light in color. Add buttermilk. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice; stir into creamed mixture. Fold in oatmeal, raisins, walnuts, and vanilla, blending well. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Drizzle with Brown Butter Icing.
Brown Butter Icing
1/2 cup butter
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons water

In a small saucepan heat the butter over medium heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in 3 cups sifted powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in enough water (3 to 4 tablespoons) to make an icing of drizzling consistency. Drizzle on warm cookies.

If you're thinking for even a moment that you might skip the brown butter icing - don't! It MAKES the cookie. Seriously. Got any Christmas favorites to share? I love picking up new recipes. If you don't have your recipes handy - what's your favorite Christmas treat?


Thursday, December 08, 2011

Holiday Travel

No, I'm not talking about preparing for the stressful trip where you have to pack the car full of kids, luggage and presents and head to whatever uncomfortable fold-out couch you're going to be occupying for a long weekend.

I saw an article recently about hotels that decorate for the holiday season* All the photographs looked so spectacular. They had me smiling and getting into the spirit of the season when nothing else has manged to do that so far this year.

I wanted to drop everything and schedule a cross country trip to visit them all. To immerse myself if beautiful decorations and twinkling lights. Unfortunately, that just isn't an option for me at the moment. However, I've bookmarked the article so that I can go back and visit when I need a quick shot of joy to counteract any mall trips marred by bah-humbug encounters.

We're lucky in that the Opryland Hotel in Nashville is fairly close by. When the girls were little we'd go every year. For the last couple we just couldn't seem to find an empty weekend so that we could make the trip up. I think I'm going to insist we make time this year...right after I figure out when we're going to cut down our Christmas Tree.

Have you ever visited someplace that filled you with Christmas spirit? Have you always wanted to visit but haven't had the chance? How do you combat the grinch mentality that can creep in this time of year?


*Click here t0 read article.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Have You Ever Been Flashed?

Not that sort of flashed, silly. I'm talking about a flash mob. Wikipedia defines a flash mob as "a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, artistic expression. Flash mobs are organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral emails.

The term, coined in 2003, is generally not applied to events and performances organized for the purposes of politics (such as protests), commercial advertisement, publicity stunts that involve public relation firms, or paid professionals."

Maybe you've seen videos of them online. Or maybe you've seen one up close and personal. I think it would be awesome to be sitting somewhere and suddenly have folks singing and/or dancing.

Travellers at the Denver airport were treated to this one two days before Thanksgiving. What a treat for the tired and weary.

This one was November of last year in a mall food court. I wouldn't call it pointless, though.

And in December 2009, a flash mob in a Portland mall took a decidedly different twist. Watch and see what happened.

Admit it. You sang along, didn't you? I did.

Have you ever seen a flash mob? Or been part of one?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Guest Blogger Sarah M. Anderson

When I sold to Desire, one of the first authors to welcome me was fellow newbie, Sarah. Since then, we've bonded over the process of getting our first book out into the world. Today, I'm psyched to have her here because its her LAUNCH DAY! Give her a warm welcome as she stops by on her blog tour.

If I were going to have a nickname on this blog, it would most likely be the Weirdo. I’m just a little odd—always have been, always will be. I was the kid who took the book outside during recess—and read it while I walked back into the building. I had a huge vocabulary—but I mispronounced all the words because I never heard words like ‘macabre’ said out loud. I just read them on paper.

That was bad enough, but what made it worse was a personal fashion sense that walked the line between ‘clueless’ and ‘God-awful.’ Some less-than-charitable classmates even called me ‘butch.’ I had a mullet. Yes. You read that correctly—a mullet, but not one of the trendy-at-the-times ones
with mall bangs and curls everywhere. Just a mullet with flat hair that stuck up funny. I was tall—one of the tallest girls in school, but I am not naturally graceful (read: I suck at sports). I didn’t wear skirts or dresses. Ever. Well, that’s not true—I wore one once for a presentation, and I swear, that’s the only thing people remembered. “Sarah wore a skirt today!” It was such a big deal that when I wore a skirt to my five-year reunion, people remembered. “Whoa—are you wearing a skirt?’

I was that kind of weirdo. Not organized enough to be Goth, not geeky enough to be a nerd, not coordinated enough to play sports. Just a girl with her nose in a book. I mean, come on—what kind of high-school freshman reads the unabridged (but translated) version of Les Miserables just to one-up her French teacher? Me, that’s who. (And you better believe I did that!)

And now look where it’s gotten me—I’M PUBLISHED! My very first book comes out today! A lifetime of being the odd duck has paid off—now I’m the PUBLISHED odd duck! It’s wonderful to have all the other misfits I hung out with tell me that they always knew I had a book in me. But I’m not going to lie—what’s even more gratifying is when some of those formerly
less-than-charitable classmates (you know, the ones who called me ‘bookworm’ and ‘butch’) tell me how cool it is that I’m a real-life author. That’s right—for the first time ever, I’m cool. How cool is that?

I’m giving away a signed copy of A Man of His Word (OUT TODAY!) to someone who answers the question: what’s the longest book you actually read? (Les Mis is actually only in my top 15!) I’m also giving away this custom-made Locket of Love on January 1, so be sure to comment early and often!

This post is brought to you as part of the A Man of His Word Blog Tour. U.S. residents only. For a complete tour schedule and rules, visit Comments on this blog will be entered to win a signed copy of A Man of His Word. All blog comments are added to the Jewelry Grand Prize list. Jewelry Grand Prize announced on January 1st, 2012 to one randomly drawn name on the list. Next tour stop is the Romance Novel News on December 8th.

A Man of His Word
Attorney Rosebud Donnelly has a case to win. And she never lets anyone see her sweat. But her first meeting with Dan Armstrong doesn’t go according to script. No one warned her that the COO of the company she’s fighting would be so…manly. From his storm-colored eyes to his well-worn boots, Dan is an honest-to-goodness cowboy. But is he honest? Her yearning for the Texas tycoon goes against reason, against family loyalty, against everything she thought she believed in. And yet, in Dan’s strong arms, Rosebud feels she might be ready to risk everything for one more kiss….

A Man of His Word is available! Visit your favorite bookseller, at Amazon, or for the Nook.

Award-winning author Sarah M. Anderson may live east of the Mississippi River, but her heart
lies out west on the Great Plains. With a lifelong love of horses and two history teachers for parents, it wasn’t long before her characters found themselves out in South Dakota among the Lakota Sioux. She loves to put people from two different worlds into new situations and to see how their backgrounds and cultures take them someplace they never thought they’d go.

When not helping out at school or walking her rescue dog, Sarah spends her days having conversations with imaginary cowboys and American Indians, all of which is surprisingly well-tolerated by her wonderful husband and son.
In case you missed it in the contest legaleeze, there's a book up for grabs and a grand prize of a really cool piece of jewelry from the blog tour. Be sure to comment. Thanks for stopping by, Sarah!

Monday, December 05, 2011

MOANday: Jason Momoa

I don't know about you, but I could use a little refilling of the well after a long, focused month of NaNoWriMo! And what better way to rejuvenate those writerly senses than to revisit MoanDay!

The hubby recently rented Conan the Barbarian, and while the story isn't really my cup of tea, the hottie on the screen surely was. Meet actor/director Jason Momoa. I think his picture says it all! He's starred in a variety of roles from Baywatch to Stargate Atlantis. And I can certainly see why! :)

Happy Moan Day, everyone!!!


Coming Soon!

Join us tomorrow for a visit from author Sarah Anderson!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Free Book Friday - Christmas Edition

I'm doing Free Book Friday a little early this month. Technically it's the Friday of the first full week of the month, but if you think I'm setting foot in a post office that late in December, you are sadly mistaken. And since the winner would probably want to read their Christmas book at Christmas time, I need to get it out ASAP.

This month we have a special treat. It's autographed by two of the authors in the anthology - Vicki Lewis Thompson and Rhonda Nelson!

Merry Christmas, Baby!
with stories by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Rhonda Nelson and Jennifer LaBrecque

Who will you find under your Christmas tree?

A cowboy?
Ranch hand Tucker Rankin isn't crazy about the holidays…until a wintry night before Christmas, when Lacey Evans shows him how much fun it is to be nestled all snug in her bed….

A wealthy New Yorker?
Stockbroker Jared Martin needs to get away, and Alaska's the perfect place to unwind. Especially once actress Theodora "Teddy" Monroe gets him to loosen his tie—and take it all off!

Or maybe even a man in uniform?
Soldier Silas Davenport is on Christmas leave. But when he arrives at his parents' home, no one is there…except for the irresistible Delphie Moreau. And she's one gift he won't be exchanging!

To win, comment with the phrase "I want a ____________" under by tree and pick your favorite - a soldier, a cop, a detective, a millionaire, a vampire... your choice!


Thursday, December 01, 2011

I Need An App for That

So, yeah, I finally broke down and got an iPhone. I didn't get the latest and greatest because I just couldn't see the point in spending an extra $100 when it wasn't the 5 and didn't have the upgrades I wanted. But my Blackberry was driving me crazy and based on it's actions about to die. Zilla wanted his for his birthday and we decided it made sense to just upgrade both phones at the same time. I mean mine's for Christmas anyway so I'd have been doing it a few weeks later anyway.

And I LOVE it. I thought I understood the iPhone obsession, but I really didn't until I got one in my hands. It's the apps. There are just so dang many. For everything. I even found one for Black Friday that was a lifesaver because it had all the ad scans and the ability to make a list of things you wanted. Much more convenient than carrying around the paper ads.

But there are sooo many of them! I've been visiting the app store on a daily basis but I get overwhelmed with options. So I thought I'd ask y'all - what are your favorite apps? What could you not live without? Favorite paid? Favorite free? What apps am I missing?


P.S. Playground Monitor's winner from yesterday is Kelley Gregory! Email PM to arrange to get your prize.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


In less than twenty-four hours, National Novel Writing Month will come to a close, and for the first time in four years, I didn't hit the 50K mark. I blogged a couple weeks ago about my struggles. I've been doing just what I said I would -- reading books in various short contemporary lines to get back into the feel of a short contemporary romance.

Back when I used to read four to six of them a month, I could feel how the story should go. I knew to drop backstory in a little at a time, to use all five senses, to show and not tell. Or maybe I was fooling myself into believing I was doing all that. At any rate, I was putting words on paper.

If I was a Tweeter or a Twitterer or whatever a person who uses Twitter is called, I could come up with a lot of hashtags for how I'm feeling now:


You get the picture. And that brings me to something I realized a few days ago.

I wasn't sure who my characters were. I mean, WHO they were, as in I needed pictures of them so I could look at a photo and remember to describe the hero's blue eyes and the heroine's brown hair. I learned a few years ago that I'm a visual learner, and pictures help me cement things in my mind.

In the past, I've done a story board -- or at least had some things printed out and taped around my office for reference. Hugh Jackman was the hero of my 2008 NaNo book. Lucky Vanous was last year's hero. And who is the hero of Seduction with Style?

I swear I had him picked out to be Max Brown before the People magazine thing. The outdoorsy clothes and hat, the whiskers, the too-long hair -- they all fit with a guy who 's been doing his own thing in the great outdoors for the past seven years and whose mother thinks he needs an makeover so he'll fit into the corporate image of his father's empire. But he was really the only character I had a clear picture of. So I went on a hunt and I think maybe this is the rest of the cast.

I originally had this woman (found on the Max Talent site) as my heroine, Victoria Sharpe. She's an image consultant and I felt this woman had the right look for that.

But then I came across this photo of Ashley Judd and thought maybe she's Victoria.

Max's mother, Julia, plays a part in getting him and Victoria together. And I needed to know who she was too. She's in her late 60's or early 70's, stylish and proper but with some mischief in her too. For a while I was picturing English actress Helen Mirren.

And then it hit me! Who better than another actress who actually portrayed a TV character named Julia -- the late Dixie Carter.

Another character who has a small but relevant part is Victoria's business partner, Sophia. She's fun and quirky. I was getting nowhere finding her until I stumbled across this photo. It's self-explanatory.

She's fun and quirky, right?

I still have to cast Victoria's brother, Nick. It's important to get him right because I think he could be the hero in another book. He's in his early to mid thirties and he's an attorney. He was an associate in a firm until, with the help of information obtained by a private investigator, he won a high-profile divorce case for his client. It was the case no one thought he could win. Now he's the golden boy. And the female PI is going to be his heroine but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Who is Nick?

Help me out here. My knowledge of today's actors and actresses is very limited. All my heroes would be Hugh Jackman if I was left to my own devices. Help me find Nick. And if you have suggestions for the others, tell me those too. Oh, and Max has a younger sister, Kate. She has an MBA from an Ivy League school and would love to work in the family business, but Father is old fashioned and thinks she doesn't belong there. She's sharp as a tack, adores her older brother and is frustrated as all heck that her father is such an old fuddy-duddy. She has a cute scene with Max where Victoria thinks she's his woman du jour. Any idea who she might be?

Because this is all about looks, I'll pick one commenter at random to receive a nifty make-up collection in a zipper bag.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Release Day to Me!


The Power and the Glory is out now!

You know, my birthday was Sunday, so you could run out and pick up a copy as a little b-day gift to me. Just saying...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. And I was tickled when RT Bookreviews gave it 4 stars and said, "With its fresh twist on a familiar theme and a hero and heroine who balance each other perfectly, this second installment of the Marshall family saga is a pleasure to read."

Squee with me!!

And pop over to the RomCon blog for a chance to win a copy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday Skeptics

Forgive me while I rant for a moment. You see, I confess, I'm a Black Friday shopper. I've gone on and off for quite a few years since the kids were little, if the hubby could be home to watch them that day.

I know, you're probably expecting me to fuss about some crazy person I saw fighting over something, but frankly, I don't see a lot of that while I'm out. Its all orderly lines and yes, lots of complaining, but as long as no one is throwing fists, I'm okay with that. I know the rowdy stuff happens, but maybe since I never go out to try to get that computer I have to have, I don't get to witness it.

Actually, I'm more than a little irritated by some people's attitude toward Black Friday. Now, as I said, I go with a list, but I never go for something I HAVE to have. So maybe I'm not the usual BF shopper. For example, this year I wanted a basketball goal for Little Man. Would have loved to have it for $69 -- the main reason I braved Walmart at the starting gate for the first time. But if I didn't get it, that's fine too. I'll pay the higher price with a wince and move on. Really glad I no longer needed the trampoline I was interested in, because those went really fast. But I finished all my Christmas shopping, and when I figured it up, I saved over $600 on that day alone.

Back to my rant -- I come home from BF shopping at 5am (Sis and I started at 10pm Thanksgiving night). I sleepily log into Facebook while I wind down and what do I see but a ton of posts on how crazy it is to shop on Black Friday, and a slew of people who would rather poke their eyes out than go out that day (wow, not many people value their eyesight, I guess). It reminded me of an article that I read recently on NaNoWriMo. There were comments aplenty about how stupid NaNo was, how people who participated only produced crappy writing, and how these "literary" authors wouldn't be caught dead participating. You know, that's all fine and dandy, but do you really find it necessary to call me "stupid" in a public arena? If the method doesn't work for you (or you have absolutely no desire to deal with hundreds of people in a store at one time and hour and a half checkout lines), not a problem. But don't denigrate me because I want to.

I also heard several "scientific" types touting how much of a myth Black Friday is. "Oh, you can get good deals like that year round." Maybe so -- but I shop for this stuff all year long, and I can't save $600 on a single shopping trip for Christmas presents any other time of the year. I get most of my Christmas finished up on that day, so I save TIME and MONEY. And I rarely see DVDs on sale for $1.97, at least, current DVDs. If you don't shop for this stuff all the time, you have no idea how often it goes on sale or whether you can get to the actual store while its on sale. Huff...

Okay, down off my soapbox for today. :) I'm sure y'all have plenty to say about Black Friday -- and I promise not to judge, now that I've gotten that off my chest.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Still Thankful

Thanksgiving has come and gone. The nasty economy probably kept folks up all night shopping for all the black Friday deals that have crept back so far, people are shopping in their turkey coma. But I'm still thankful.

My family isn't the kind that sits around the table and tells everything they're thankful for at dinner. That's a little too touchy feely for my crowd. But I still think about it, or blog about it as the case might be. And this year, I am obviously unbelievably thankful for the turn my writing career has taken.

It has been less than six months since I got the call that I'd sold my first book WHAT LIES BENEATH. The rest has been a blur of revisions, contracts, line edits, proofreading and art fact sheets. I met my editor, made friends with the other writers in Desire and walked in the footsteps of my characters in New York. I signed with a great agent at Bookends. I sold my second book, a July release which just got titled as MORE THAN HE EXPECTED even though we're still working on revisions and waiting on contracts. I'm spending the rest of my holiday weekend eating leftover pumpkin pie and finishing up that book for my deadline. Then, hopefully, I'll spend the rest of December working on the single title for my agent to shop and putting together a proposal for my next Desire contract. By spring and my first release, I'll be in full promo-mode. I can't wait.

Wow. Its just crazy. I mean, this time last year, I was hopeful that a couple projects I had out might go somewhere. The holidays were kind of depressing me. Normally I love it, but I was feeling dumpy. I wouldn't have put up a Christmas tree if DB hadn't flipped out when I made the suggestion. This year, I'm crazy busy between my two jobs and yet I can't wait to decorate. I even think (since its oddly warm today) that I might decorate some outside. I haven't really done that since my new house (uh, 4.5 years ago). No way am I stringing up lights on a 2 story house. And yet I want to, though probably as a revisions avoidance tactic.

So this year, even with Thanksgiving come and gone, I have to say that I am still extremely thankful. Thankful to find an editor that 'gets' me and is actually like a twin separated at birth. (We had a discussion about Ninja Turtles once and I knew it was meant to be.) I'm thankful for an agent who thinks I have great potential and was willing to sign me without knowing if aliens landed in chapter fourteen. I'm thankful to have sold to a line that has room to grow new authors and has a community of writers that are welcoming and friendly to the newbies.

Finally, I'm thankful for the friends that kept me writing when I felt like giving up. I would never have gotten this far without them.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Glitter Graphics

We hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving
filled with family, friends, food...and football!

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We'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of our readers. We're so lucky to have such wonderful people in our lives.