Monday, December 29, 2014

2015: Ready or Not, Here it Comes

I've always enjoyed taking down the Christmas decorations and getting my living space back to normal. Maybe I've been a minimalist in training my entire life. Putting away the holiday stuff takes me visually back to the basics--the perfect place from which to welcome a new year.

I'm looking forward to 2015, though 2014 has been a year packed with lots of wonderful experiences and memories for me, and for our family. (I won't bore you with details, but you can go through the archives to see what's gone on.)

I know the new year will contain some personal challenges. Honestly, I'd be glad to skip those and just do the fun stuff, but as that's not an option, I'll be working through the challenges as well as I can.

After some consideration, my resolution for 2015 is the same as the one I made 12 months ago:

To begin and end each day with gratitude, and in between, to do the best I can with what I have. 

Sounds minimalist, doesn't it? But I have an idea it will take me the whole year to try to achieve. That's how it's worked in 2014. I think this is the best resolution I've ever made, and hope to renew it again at the end of 2015. I wish each of you a new year full of gratitude and possibilities.

Are you making any resolutions for 2015?


Monday, December 22, 2014

Simple Christmas Tree for Apartment Dwellers with Cat(s)

(Last week I posted these ideas about how to have a more peaceful holiday.)

Maybe a tree isn't part of your holiday, but I realized I missed having one. Because of Attila I can't put up my c.1960s aluminum tree. I do enjoy the magnetic one on the fridge with a numbered "ornament" each day, but I wanted more. (As a minimalist, I don't often say that.)

After a diligent internet search for ideas, I created this one. It is cardboard, wrapping paper, aluminum foil and fishing line. Also a staple in the tree, and in the star, to hold the fishing line. It hangs from a hook where a large picture usually is.

When most of the lights are off, the star reflects the light that remains. OR Behold! There is a star in the East!

Making the tree was quick. Looking for ideas of how to make a tree was time consuming. But it's worth it to me because I smile every time I look in that corner. I don't dread undecorating the tree, or putting it into a box. (It used to be a box.. Ha! I love a funny cardboard tree joke, but unfortunately I don't know any.)

There is space on top of the trunk to put wrapped gifts, which I can't do with the magnetic one. (Thanks to Attila, the gifts aren't going out until the last minute.)

I've seen several very simple live trees on social media, and one that was a single evergreen branch with some small decorations. Once, early in our 30-year marriage, I put small decorations onto a rubber tree plant in our living room. Different things are festive for different people, as circumstances evolve. This one is festive for me and doesn't antagonize Attila, so it is a winner.


Some progress has occurred on the Emily story in spite of the holidays. Yay!


Monday, December 15, 2014

A More Peaceful Holiday

In the busyness of the season, it may be difficult to find the peace mentioned so many times in Christmas carols.

All this extra stress isn't doing anybody any good, is it?

Here are some of the things that make my holiday less frantic and more enjoyable.

I realize it's likely too late to implement any major changes for this year. I decided a year ago on one of these things, and it looks as if that's going to work out.

1. Wear jingle bells. Perhaps I love jingle bells more than the average adult does. I have a pair of homemade jingle bell earrings that I love to wear. They make me happy, and seem to have that effect on others too. Piece of bent wire, jingle bell. Repeat.

2. Choose your music. I listen to public radio, and as a result I don't get sick of Christmas music. Maybe you never get tired of hearing it, but I have in the past because in my opinion it starts too soon. I will likely dig out my CDs in a couple of days.

3. Reduce gift giving. This is not impossible, folks.
This year we've decided to put a dollar amount cap on our family gifts.
Some years, we have done homemade. If you're super crafty, great. If you're not, homemade is still an option. I'm talking outdoor wind chimes made from plumbing pipe, a pretty jar of homemade laundry soap (I received this for my birthday and was tickled!), hot cocoa mix in a jar or mug. Use your imagination. It's the thought that counts, right?
Instead of exchanging stuff, if you're within driving distance, give the gift of time. Meet for lunch or dinner, or see a play, dutch treat.
We don't have to show people we love them by going into debt, buying more than anyone needs or can store--and expecting the same in return.
4. Make your holiday a gift to the community--shop local. I love doing this, and am fortunate to have some unique shops within walking distance. One in particular sells locally made crafts (Yes! Like The Emporium in Midnight in Legend, TN. I am excited.)

5. Support local events. I love our community's annual Madrigal Dinner. This year, sadly, it had to be reduced to a concert without the dinner, but the music was fabulous, and the decor lovely. One positive is that some people attended who might not have gone to a dinner. (Disclaimer: The Progeny sang in it, and the Progenette played the flute. But everybody said the music was fabulous--not just me.)

6. Look on the bright side. See number 5.

7. Simplify food prep. Unless, of course, you love having it complicated--then go for it.

I take the same thing to all of the holiday parties I attend. This makes food shopping super easy, and the thought process doesn't take any time at all. I also take this same thing to the Annual Football Game Food and Television Soiree.
On Christmas Day, I host a luncheon. In past years I've made lasagna, salad, garlic bread. This year I'm just making the lasagna, because all the guests wanted to bring something. I had resisted this, but who am I to refuse this if the guests are happier about it?
I will make the lasagna on Christmas Eve, because there's a Christmas brunch to attend. Last year I didn't have time to get to the brunch because I had not simplified my food prep. (Yep, I planned in December 2013 to tweak this in case I got invited to the brunch again.)
8. Take a look at your expectations for decor. If you love what you're doing, keep it up. If you need to pare down, for goodness sake don't feel guilty about it. It's not supposed to be the season of guilt.

I hope you can glean something that will help make your holiday, this year and/or in the future, more peaceful.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Yay! Paperback of Small Town Christmas is Available

As everyone on my newsletter list can tell you, Small Town Christmas is now out in paperback form. Yeehaw!

Yep, for just $7.99 you can have one, and while you're at it, go ahead and buy a few extra for readers on your list. (The ebook is $2.99.)

That's one of the many things I love about writing sweet romance. You don't have to hide it from the teenagers, or from Mom or Grandma (or Dad or Grandpa) due to a "sensuality" level.

So please feel free to buy as many copies as you like. They'll make more if necessary.

Kindle ebook
Amazon trade-size paperback
Nook ebook
Kobo ebook

If you didn't get the word about the paperback via my newsletter, you can sign up for future issues at the Newsletter and Social Media page. When there's something big to announce, I try to share it with newsletter readers first. Sometimes it's hard to wait, but I have made this promise.

Plus newsletter readers get to do fun stuff. I can't tell you what the fun stuff is, because that knowledge is part of being on the newsletter list. (I will give you a couple of hints: it is not cash, and it is not a pony.)


BIG SIGH OF RELIEF. This book is my first effort at independent publishing, and I chewed nails. I spent gobs of time with it--way more than writing. I am even more impressed now with writers who routinely publish their own work.


Thinking about Goals for 2015

1. I'd love for us to have more interaction here on the blog. Back in the day, it was an entertaining hangout for several of us.

2. I want to put out a fun email newsleter to subscribers whenever there's something big to share. In the past I have sent very few newsletters; ideally it will increase, but not exceed one per month. So if you decide to subscribe, I promise not to flood you with email. I don't want that, and I bet you don't either.

Perhaps we can talk more about goals in the next few weeks. Do you have any in mind for yourself? Do you have suggestions for me?


Monday, December 8, 2014

Word to the Wise: Buy these Boxed Sets Before Christmas

Turquoise Morning Press has lots of boxed sets of digital books available now, priced at 99 cents. This is such a wonderful way to discover new authors, or to get a favorite author's books at a super low price. Well--best be snapping those up now, because the prices are going up after Christmas. They'll be at least $2.99 per set, and some larger sets will be higher than $2.99.

Here are the Turquoise Morning Press boxed sets in which I have at least one story:

Love in a Small Town

Boxed set of Legend novels and novellas. Sweet romance, sensual romance, and romantic suspense, containing
Claiming the Legend, Crescent Moon, Harvest Moon by Janet Eaves, 
The Reunion Game  by Jan Scarbrough, 
Bed, Breakfast & You by Maddie James, and
Midnight in Legend, TN, Where Her Heart Is, Building a Dream by me.

A Legendary Christmas

Boxed set of four Legend novellas (sweet to spicy):

Santa's Kiss by Jan Scarbrough
Home for the Holidays by Maddie James
The Christmas Gift by Janet Eaves
Christmas Collision by me.

A Legendary Christmas Past (1940s, 1960s, 1970s retro)

Boxed set of six Legend sweet to spicy romance novellas:

If Only In My Dreams... Christmas 1944 and 1945 by Janet Eaves

A Groovy Christmas, 1968 and
Not Quite Christmas, 1969 by Jan Scarbrough

Under The Mistletoe, 1975, and
The Holly and the Ivy, 1978 by Magdalena Scott

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Apple - ibooks

Sweet But Sexy

Boxed set of 8 sweet romance novellas

Blue Bottle Beach by Amie Denman
All That's Unspoken by Constance Phillips
Crossroads by Janet Eaves
Secrets by Jan Scarbrough
My Brother's Wedding by Jennifer Anderson
Double Dog Dare by Jennifer Johnson
Hard Candy Kisses by Maddie James
Building a Dream by Magdalena Scott

Small Town Charm Love and Mystery

Boxed set of 8 romances and romantic mystery/suspense novels and novellas set in small towns.

Bloom by Julie Anne Lindsey
Buried in Briny Bay by Bobbye Terry 
Midnight in Legend, TN by Magdalena Scott 
Murder at the Blue Plate CafĂ© by Judy Alter 
Shades of the Future by Suzanne Lilly
Heart to Heart by Jan Scarbrough 
Rebuild My World by Cheryl Norman 
Ice Princess by Jennifer Anderson 

Okay, that was your public service/library enhancement announcement for today. 

Happy reading!


Monday, December 1, 2014

The Shopping Season! (Not)

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday. Mine was lovely. It didn't go exactly as expected, but being flexible and not freaking out when I burn something in the oven can make every event better.

Okay, actually I did freak out about burning something in the oven, but I'm mostly all better now.

Christmas decor here in the Jewel Box is complete, I think.

My door wreath is wearing its annual red Christmas bow, mistletoe hangs above the doorway, and the magnetic Christmas tree is on the fridge. Attila would destroy my beloved aluminum tree. That's frustrating, but in the big picture it's okay. The magnetic tree is cute, and this clip art tinsel tree is always fun to take out and fluff.

There will be very little shopping this year (yay!) but plenty of holiday enjoyment. I'm looking forward to a Madrigal concert, seeing A Christmas Carol at Louisville's Actors Theatre, a Christmas cantata at the small church I attend, and some dinners and parties.

Christmas movie watching is in full swing (one or two per week), and I'm about halfway through Marcia Willett's beautiful novel, A Week in Winter. Not quite ready to listen to Christmas music yet, beyond what's piped into the grocery store sound system.

I'm enjoying the Christmas season in a relaxed, happy way so far. Makes it easier for me to focus on people instead of stuff. And it leaves more energy for writing.

What kind of holiday season works best for you and yours?