Last month I told you that I was finishing #12DancingSantas the final book in the #HermosafortheHolidays series and it released this week, it’s on sale through Saturday, December 12th for 99 cents on Amazon. I can’t believe the series is complete! It’s like raising your children, when you’re in the middle of it, you’re so focused on the day to day business of feeding, teaching, bathing, schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, learning and adjusting as you parent…all of the things that come with raising kids, that you sometimes lose sight of how quickly they’re growing.
Then, suddenly, they’re all grown up.
It was a similar feeling writing this series. I’ve been so busy writing, revising, editing, learning how to publish and promote, and so much more that I’m still learning…
And now suddenly, this series is done. Well, except for getting the print books out.
So, #12DancingSantas is Brenda’s story. She’s a Hermosa Beach schoolteacher, and this year she’s watched as one by one, each of her friends have gone viral on social media, and found love. Then while attending the annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Hermosa Beach Pier, and watching the performances, including one by twelve firemen on skates…also known as the Twelve Dancing Santas. Santa whisks by, sweeps her into his arms and gives her the most magical of Christmas kisses. And when he does, he drops a boot from the bag over his shoulder.
Now, Brenda and her friends must find the Santa who fits the boot, because while there are plenty of Santas willing to try (at least twelve to be sure) she has to find the Real Santa.
Like the rest of the series, the story is a light, fun escape that I hope will bring a smile to your face…and maybe even a laugh or two.
Since Brenda, is a baker, and so am I, I thought I’d share one of my family’s favorite holiday cookie recipes with you. And I promise that while I’m baking cookies and wrapping gifts, I’m also working on the next writing project. I’ll be back to tell you about that next time!
My oldest son, Gerrod, is my cover artist, and these are his favorite Christmas cookies.
Sour Cream Cookies
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 whole eggs
½ cup butter, softened
8 oz sour cream
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup butter
1 ½ tsp vanilla
¼ cup milk
3 cups powdered sugar
Sprinkles if desired
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking sheet.
In a large mixing bowl cream vanilla, sugar eggs, butter and sour cream until well blended. Add flour salt and soda and mix well. The dough will be sticky. Drop by large spoonful’s onto prepared pan. Bake 10-12 minutes or until puffed and lightly brown on the bottom. Cool.
Mix ingredients for frosting until well blended. I like to divide the frosting and add food coloring. Frost cookies and use sprinkles to decorate.
Warning, this recipe can be a little finicky. They should puff up and become soft almost muffiny cookies, but sometimes they spread out and are thin. Don’t worry about it, they’re delicious either way. I like them best chilled in the refrigerator.
Happy Holidays whatever you celebrate, and best wishes for a happy, healthy New Year.
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Writing never gets easier… if anything, it’s more difficult.
Why? Because we expect more of ourselves. Even more so when you’re doing edits from your fab editor who’s really an angel in disguise. We want to make our story as perfect as possible and not disappoint her. She believes in you. Your characters believe in you. After all, their lives are in your hands.
But like a chocolate soufflé, a lot can go wrong.
Your computer screen goes blue… computer updates send your heart pounding as you pray you get all your pretty icons back…. a character keeps you up at nights because you’re so worried about how you’re going to save her butt and yours.
You go over your word count.
You can’t find your timeline/fact sheet for your heroine (when you’re writing about Paris during WW 2 this is crucial).
You ‘re so tired, you push the wrong button on your keyboard and everything in Track Changes disappears
You realize a secondary relationship ain’t working because the hero is based on an old boyfriend with a big ego. You dump him. Get a new guy for the part. And he’s an absolute dream.
You work from dawn-to-dawn the week before edits are due and have no idea what day it is.
And worst of all, you run out of coffee.
But I did it!
I sent my editor the edited manuscript at 7:37 a.m. on a sunny morning… and I felt numb. No whistles went off. No bells. Just the quiet hum of my computer.
I needed a hug.
Someone telling me ‘I done good’.
Yes, I’m totally proud of what I accomplished, but writing can be a lonely business. And it’s hard work, especially writing historicals. (My story follows a dual timeline from 1926 to 1950 and present day. Silent films, Nazis in Paris, the film business in Hollywood and France.)
So I did what I swore I wouldn’t after I sent the m/s: I opened it back up and read some of my favorite passages. Laughed and cried again with my characters… sat amazed at how they accomplished their goals… fell in love with them all over again… and cheered when they beat the Nazis!
And I got that hug.
From my characters. Reminding me why I write. Because I so love them, the stories, the chance to give them life.
So, merci beaucoup, mes bons amis! Thank you, my friends.
PS — I’ll keep you posted on my Paris WW 2 historical. Cover ideas coming soon…
Once upon a Christmastime, I had a fun experience with the Oprah Show that has remained a fond memory… even if it took a different path than the show planned…
‘Ring… ring… ’
I was halfway out the door when the telephone rang. I slammed to a halt, clutching my car keys, my purse slung over my shoulder. Who could be calling me this early in the morning?
It was 8 a.m.
I was running late for a meeting and the last thing I needed was another telemarketer trying to sell me carpet cleaning for Christmas.
Then it hit me. I remembered the Christmas tradition story I wrote about my mom and her old piano and sent to the Oprah Show.
I swallowed hard. It was 10 a.m. in Chicago. Oprah Time.
I grabbed the phone and mumbled a breathless, ‘Hello… ’
‘Hi, this is the Oprah Show calling.’
‘Did you say Oprah?’ I gulped, my heart pounding like a million elves working overtime.
“Do you have time to talk?” the producer asked, hopeful.
I cleared my throat. ‘Yeah, sure… no problem.’
Wait till I tell my boss why I’m late today.
‘Awesome. We received your story about your Christmas tradition… ’
I tossed my purse and car keys onto a chair, my pulse racing out of control. ‘Yes?’
‘We’d like to use it for a segment on our holiday show.’
‘You do?’ I said, my voice squeaking like a little kid seeing Santa Claus.
The producer chuckled. ‘Yes… now here’s what we need from you.’
Knees wobbly, I fumbled in my purse for a pencil while the producer give me instructions on what happened next. Tears misted in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it. My Christmas tradition was going to be on Oprah.
I let out a deep sigh. If only my mom could see this, praying somehow she did know.
My mother loved to play the piano, especially at Christmastime. She knew every holiday carol by heart and every year, she’d sit down at our old studio upright piano and take us on a musical trip to Bethlehem or a journey with the Three Wise Men or rock ‘n roll with Jingle Bell Rock.
We lived in the Pennsylvania woods when I was a kid and one Christmas we were snowed in and couldn’t get into town to buy a tree. So my mom decorated our old piano with shiny, silver tinsel and red and blue and green balls with a gold star on top.
After all, a piano is made out of wood, and that wood was once a tree.
So why not a Christmas Piano Tree?
My mother passed away a few days before Christmas many years ago. I didn’t have the heart to trim a tree that year. Then I remembered her Christmas piano tree. I decorated that same old, wonderful studio upright with Christmas ornaments that year and I do so every Christmas since then as a tribute to my mom.
It was an exciting time after the Oprah Show producer called. They asked for photos of my Christmas piano tree, then we taped the segment for my holiday tradition with me reading what I wrote about my mom. The sound crew added holiday music and I got all ready to watch the show when it aired…
But the show ran overtime, so my segment didn’t make the national broadcast. I was devastated, but the Oprah producer promised she’d do something for me.
She did. The next year the Oprah Show ran my old home Christmas movies and used them as part of their promo for their holiday show.
So here’s my pretty young mom at Christmastime hanging up Christmas stockings.
When I wanted to write a Christmas time travel story, I thought about how much I missed my mom every year and those wonderful holidays when I was a kid in Pennsylvania. If only I could go back in time and see her again and tell her how much I loved her…
I dedicated CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN to my mom. It’s the story of the Arden Family during World War 2 on the home front with Kate, the older daughter, as the heroine sending the man she loves off to war in 1943… she never sees him again.
Then years later she has the chance to go back in time and warn him about a secret mission gone wrong in France. Will he believe her?
All she wants for Christmas is to save the man she loves…
Christmas Once Again is available at e-tailers everywhere, print, and audio book, too!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
PS – some of my favorite scenes in Christmas Once Again are when Kate reconnects with Ma…and their wonderful moments together.
CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN is on sale for 99 cents for a limited time!
US Amazon https://amzn.to/2pcz2eN
UK Amazon https://amzn.to/31rF4pZ
Audio US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YL6KG3W
Follow me on BookBub for new releases and promo deals!
Christmas memories are forever…better yet if they’re on film.
Until you can’t find them.
I’m a good record keeper, my accountant loves me…my handwritten notes from trips abroad often help me shape a story, but I was devastated when I couldn’t find my old Christmas movies when I was a kid.
A mad search finally showed up a lost reel my dad shot at Christmas when I was in grade school. It was the only time we took movies at Christmas. We moved around a lot (I went to fifteen schools), and over the years the old movie camera stopped working…and well, you get the idea.
But this year I wanted to resurrect the old movies because of one short piece of film.
My mom hanging up Christmas stockings.
So although her picture won’t appear in the dedication, here’s that special piece of film from my old home movies.
Thanks, Mom, for making every Christmas special.
Time travel back to Christmas 1943 on the home front
Exciting news re: my holiday Women’s Fiction novel CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN — release day is October 10th! It’s now up for pre-order at $2.99
On a cold December day in 1955, I got on a train to go back home for Christmas.
This is the story of what happened when I got off that train.
Christmas Once Again:
More about Christmas Once Again as we get closer to pub date…
I have a long history with trains.
Ever since I rode with my mom in a fancy private train compartment overnight (my dad’s company was paying for it) when I was a kid, I’ve loved train travel. The mystery, intrigue, the lulling clackety-clack of the train rolling down the tracks, taking you to a new adventure.
I’ve ridden on fast trains, slow trains, subways here and abroad, always enjoying the journey itself. So it’s no wonder I wrote a time travel where the heroine goes back in time aboard a train.
I’m in the middle of finishing up the edits, so time is a bit scrunched this month, but I wanted to share with you this “blast from the past.” I believe I was on a Swiss train in the picture, but the only old train ticket I could find quickly was a ticket to Paris when I lived in Pisa.
Here is an Instagram post I thought you might enjoy.
And I’m participating in a promotion this month with Aileen Harwood’s Bookwrapt promos. Here’s where the planes come in: my novella in the book fair is COME FLY WITH ME about a girl who meets a guy at 30,000 feet on New Year’s Eve and sparks fly! Just 99 cents. Some fabulous prizes! CLICK HERE for info and to enter.
Gotta go back to editing…exciting times ahead!
Can Jake convince Olivia to risk it all one more time . . .More info →