Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Have A Merry Little Christmas by Cindy Flores Martinez

Can you believe Christmas is less than two weeks away? I hope you’re enjoying the season!

Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from my latest story, “Merry Christmas, Amor”, which is part of the collection, “A Merry Little Winter”. It takes place in the picturesque fictional small town of Mulberry Shores where Christmas is alive and well. Main Street is wonderfully decorated and there's a Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

In this scene, the very handsome Deputy Matt Nuñez stops to talk with a homeless woman on the street when he's off duty. Esperanza De La Cruz joins him.

Excerpt – Merry Christmas, Amor
Esperanza watched Matt step out of the car and shut the door. He had made a U-turn and parked at the curb close to where the homeless woman walked. At least, she appeared homeless. Her shopping cart was full of things that didn’t look like groceries, and she wandered as if she had nowhere to go.

The things Matt had said about his childhood had rendered Esperanza immobile. Sitting there in the silence, her mind was still reeling.

“Good evening.” Matt’s voice filled the air.
Esperanza gathered herself together and stepped outside.
“I’m Deputy Nuñez from the Sheriff’s Office,” he said to the woman who had stopped on the street.  “What are you doing out here alone? It’s cold out tonight.”
“Good evening deputy,” said the woman with a feeble voice like that of a much older person. Her cheeks appeared sunken in, and her graying hair was unkempt. “I came to find my son,” she said. “He lives here in Mulberry Shores. I lost touch with him so I don’t know which house belongs to him.” She glanced around as if she might see him standing out there in the dark.
“What’s his name?” asked Matt. “Maybe I can find him for you.”
“His name is Christopher Harris.”
Matt pulled his phone out of his pocket. “How do you spell his last name?”
The woman explained how and then gave him her name, which was Gloria.
Matt quickly typed on his keypad. “There's a Christopher Harris living a few streets down from here. Do you think he’s your son?”
Hope filled her sorrowful gray eyes. “Yes. It has to be him. Unless there's more than one Christopher Harris living in Mulberry Shores.” Her expression quickly darkened. “But even if he’s my son, I don’t know if he would want to see me.”
“Why not?”
“Because,” she said, “I—” She stopped. “I wasn’t a very good mother.” She lowered her gaze. “I wasn’t there for him when he was growing up. But I’ve changed since then. I’m sober now.” She gazed up at Matt with her eyes moist.
Matt’s face boasted the same expression as when Esperanza first met him—a strictly official look that hid any sympathy he may have felt.
“I can call him for you,” he said. “His number is listed. I can’t guarantee how he’ll react.”
“Oh, yes, please,” she said. “I would be so grateful.” The hope rose again in her eyes.
Matt stepped away, dialed the number and waited for an answer. “Good evening, this is Deputy Nuñez from the Mulberry Shores Sheriff’s Office. May I please speak with Christopher Harris?” He paused to hear the response. “Sir, I have a woman here by the name of Gloria who says she’s your mother. Do you know her?”
A man’s muffled voice resounded through the speaker.
“Yes, she’s here in Mulberry Shores. She said she’s been trying to find you but doesn’t know where you live. She would like to speak with you.” He paused. “Okay. Hold on.” Matt lowered his phone and turned to Gloria. “He said he wants to talk to you.”
Her face lit up as brightly as the Christmas tree that shone on Main Street. “He does?”
Matt approached and held out his phone.
With a trembling hand, she took it from him and raised it to her ear. “Hello? Son?” she said. “Is it really you?”
Their conversation was nothing like Gloria had feared. Any hurt that may have existed between them no longer seemed to be there.
Esperanza held her breath as she listened.
Gloria lowered the phone, her face now brighter and her eyes brimming with tears. “My son said he wants to see me,” she said, the emotion seizing her voice. “He said he wants to come and get me.”
“Did he?” Matt sounded as if he hadn’t expected it.
“But I don’t know the name of this street.” She glanced around with a desperate gaze.
“I can tell him for you. I’ll give him directions.” Matt took the phone and described to Christopher where they waited. Slowly, he hung up, his expression reflecting disbelief. “He said he’ll be here in a few minutes.”
Gloria clutched her chest and let out a joyful laugh. “I can’t believe it. My son is coming for me. He’s coming for me.” She began to weep.
Esperanza’s hand flew to her mouth. Tears spilled down her face. She stepped forward and wrapped her arms around Gloria. “I’m so happy for you.”

* * *  
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Cindy Flores Martinez is a USA Today bestselling author. She writes Christian Romance. She has an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Screenwriting. Her debut novel, Mail-Order Groom, started as a screenplay and movie project, which she shopped around Hollywood, New York, and other parts of the world. You can learn more about her at

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Is your pet naughty or nice?

Many of you know that my husband and I inherited Henry, an adorable shih tzu, when our daughter attended university in Ireland.

Henry is a sweet dog and seldom gets into mischief. However, especially during the holiday season, he gets excited whenever we have guests and jumps and barks for the first couple minutes.

This month, I’ve compiled some of my favorite animal pictures photographed at Christmastime. You decide if they’re naughty or nice.

Do you have a pet? Naughty or nice? Please share your comments below.

In my sweet romance novella, 1-800-CHRISTMAS, the second book in my home-flipping series, Desiree, the heroine purchased a run-down Queen Style home, and the hero is a contractor.

On Christmas Eve, Desiree’s sister brings a surprise gift. Can you guess what it is?

Pre-order 1-800-CHRISTMAS now.

Taking the high road is a whole lot easier with someone to love…

Attorney Desiree Contando can think of only one word to describe her very first home. Disaster. The vintage Queen Anne is beautiful—or will be, in about a thousand years. Certainly not in time to host the family Christmas gathering.

“Disaster” also describes the bad breakup that left her picket-fence vision in tatters. Even the carpenter she’s hired is a reminder of lost dreams—the high school crush who never spared her a passing glance. But she’s a grownup now, perfectly capable of keeping things professional.

Keiran O’Malley is back in Roses, North Carolina, lugging his own shattered dreams of home and family. Until he’s on his feet and ready to open his own Irish pub, serendipity finds him an attic apartment in Desiree’s fixer upper in exchange for his remodeling skills.

Roses is all polished up for the holidays, but nothing outshines the Cinderella beauty who owns the house. The spin of warmth between them is instantaneous…but their broken hearts may not be strong enough to build happiness on, especially when the past shows up to demand its share.

When two hearts get in a jam, it’ll take more than whiskey cake to sweeten the deal.

 Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable shih tzu, who constantly needs grooming, and live in an old house forever needing renovations. 
And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter. Scroll down the right side of our blog and enter your email address under Newsletter Signup. Remember to join our Sweet Romance Reads Facebook Cafe too!

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Friendly Beasts of Faraday

by Shanna Hatfield

Several years ago, my husband and I were at a living nativity event and they cast of characters included a real, live camel. He was such a ham and just ate up the attention - and he gave me the idea for a book.
Then I started thinking about the Christmas carol "The Friendly Beasts." If you've never heard it, it's a sweet little song about the animals who were at the manger when Jesus was born. There's a donkey all shaggy and brown, a camel that's tan and black, a cow that's red and white, a sheep with a curly horn, and a dove from the rafters high.
With the idea already popping around in my head, I decided I wanted to write a series of four books featuring those animals in a modern day setting. Only finding the time to write four books to release all at once proved to be a little challenging.
So I set aside the entire month of January to write these stories. And I'm so glad I did.
These sweet romances feature matchmaking animals that are determined to help their humans find love this holiday season.

* Scent of Cedar (Book 1) - A woman in need of a new beginning finds herself tormented by a camel and captivated by the town's bad boy. Can she overcome her fears to embrace a sweet holiday romance?

* Tidings of Joy (Book 2)- Only one woman can draw a shy mail carrier out of his shell, but it will take the help of her donkey and puppy to make it happen.

* Boughs of Holly (Book 3)- A free-spirited nurse winds up on a ranch with a stubborn cowboy and his matchmaking grandpa. Will love triumph over her need to roam?

* Wings of an Angel  (Book 4) - Will a fun-loving teacher convince a woman sworn off romance to give love a second chance? He'll need a hand from her son and his furry, feathered friends.

Wishing each one of you a joyous, beautiful holiday season! 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

When Life Changes in a Moment.. by Christine Bush

 My mother in law, Amelia is101 years old. She was born in 1917. Can you imagine the changes she has seen in her amazing lifetime?

Think about it. Cars. Phones. Air flight. Medicine. Television. The internet. The list is endless.

Amelia lived through World War 1, World War 2, The Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, praying for many soldier family members through the generations.
She raised six awesome kids, and has a ton a grands, great grands, and a few great-great grands.

Life has had its ups and downs, its gifts and challenges over 101 years, and she has embraced every one of them as they came her way, flowing with the change.  She’s an amazing lady.

But a few weeks back, Amelia was dealt a gargantuan challenge.  She has lived in the Paradise, California area for 47 years, in her tidy little house amid the trees and foothills of the mountains that she loves. Her daughter, my sister in law, Carol, has lived with her as her caretaker for the past few years.

Then the Paradise Camp Fire struck. The devastation was immediate, fierce, and all encompassing. Choking smoke filled the air and stung the eyes.  With God’s grace, Carol and Amelia successfully evacuated from their blazing neighborhood. Some neighbors were not so fortunate.

Amid the joy and relief that they had escaped came the heartwrenching realization of all they had lost. Many possessions,memorabilia, pictures, familiar surroundings. Their church, the school, the whole town. Life changed in a big way.

They are safely with family, until decisions are made for relocation. While Amelia is sad, of course, she is handling this like she has handled so much in her life. She is a woman of dignity and grace. Awesome and strong.

I watched this acceptance as we celebrated Thanksgiving, communicating from across the country.  It humbled me.  I can take so much for granted. Little problems can loom large until I put them in perspective. Right now, I am FILLED with gratitude for all I have in my life, especially the people I love.

I am so proud of Amelia and Carol, and the thousands of others who face the tough changes from this disaster, choosing to look forward with a smile.  And I am so proud of the many people who have (and are) stepping forward to rescue, help, encourage and share with those in need, showing us all the heartwarming side of human nature. We're all in this thing called life together!

At 101, Amelia is thriving and loving, even with this difficult loss and change.  And my husband and I are very, very grateful.  May we all face the challenges that life brings with such wisdom and strength.
Have you ever faced tragedy? What helped you get through?

Christine Bush is a USA Today Bestselling author of romance, romantic mystery, and suspense.  She can be found living in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania with her husband and 2 lazy cats, and spending time with her 12 grandchildren.   When she’s not writing, she’s teaching Psychology at a local college, and working with clients in her private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist. She loves to hear from readers and writers!

Christine's  “Sunny Smile” is a sweet romantic mystery set on the Navajo reservation!



Saturday, December 8, 2018

Remembering Christmas Presents Past by Kristin Wallace

The lights are twinkling all over and my (mini) Christmas tree is up. Now, it's time for Christmas shopping. Christmas always makes me think of being a kid and the excitement of the big morning. We always went to church on Christmas Eve for the candle lighting service, which is the most beautiful thing. Sometimes we’d open presents on Christmas Eve because we usually drove to see my aunt, uncle and cousins for Christmas. When I was a kid I wanted an Easy Bake Oven. 

Another year Cabbage Patch Dolls were the rage. I remember they were on back order and it took months to get them. I got one in the summer, which was a preemie, and then I ended up getting two at Christmas. I still have them. I found them in a box when my parents were moving a couple years ago. They still look pretty good, right?

But I think my favorite present ever was a huge, stuffed bunny that I got when I was about 4 or 5. It was yellow and soft and I could sit on its lap. Yes, that's actually me with the bunny.

These days it’s harder to figure out what I want. Well, actually my real wish is to be a world-famous author and make my total living off my writing, lol. I’m not sure anyone can give me that present, not even Santa Claus. 

What are your favorite Christmas memories from growing up? Was there was special present you really wanted? 

Kristin Wallaceis the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. Kristin’s latest release is SECOND CHANCE CHRISTMAS, a new entry her Palm Cove Tales series. 

Second Chance Christmas

A delightful holiday novella that continues the Palm Cove Tales, with appearances from some of your favorites “Heiress Games” characters. This new series focuses on the family of security expert, Damon Grant.

Ten years ago, Mia Reynolds and Win Barrington spent one magical Christmas together. Until lies and manipulation at the hands of Win’s wealthy family tore them apart, leaving Mia to raise a daughter on her own. Now, both have returned to their hometown of Palm Cove, Florida. Once they uncover the truth about what happened, can Mia and Win rediscover the love they once lost and celebrate a Second Chance Christmas with their daughter?

Download your copy today!

AMAZON      /       BARNES & NOBLE        /       ITUNES        /      KOBO

Friday, December 7, 2018

Cover Reveal for Jean C. Gordon's No Time for Apologies

Isn't it gorgeous? 

The No Brides Club
Six no marriage vows. Six Mr. Rights. Will a group of strong, independent women break their pledge to one another and choose love over a career?

No Time for Apologies
Releases February 2019

Kate Lewis left the family dairy farm in Western New York for NYU and fell in love with living in New York City. Now a senior analyst for a mutual fund, she’s put everything but her career on hold until she’s grabbed the golden ring of portfolio manager. She’s been passed over twice already, so she’s not letting anything get in her way—not the pang of jealousy she feels when her much younger sister announces her engagement, nor the lingering feelings of inadequacy fostered by her brother’s childhood taunts of “you’re just a girl.” And certainly not any feelings stirred by her new assistant Jon— blast from her past, high school math nerd turned confident competitor for her dream job.

Growing up, Jon Smith felt like a square peg in a round hole. Coming from a family of physicians, he was expected to be a doctor, too. Shy, pudgy, and awkward, he rebelled and majored in mathematics in college, which he paid for himself. He also discovered competitive swimming, shed his extra weight, and grew into his features, but he still remembers being the ugly duckling Jon recently jumped off the career hamster wheel to help his grandfather manage a small beef cattle operation Upstate and teach financial planning at the local community college. He takes a job with the mutual fund company just for the summer for some extra cash to help out his grandfather. But working for Kate, his high school crush, is an added benefit.

Attraction ignites on both sides as the demands of work throw them together. A true No-Bride Club member would never fall for the man who may be here to steal her hard-earned promotion. Despite the long-buried feelings for Kate, Jon fears she may, like his parents, love her work more than she loves him. Is Kate willing to believe Jon and break her no-bride vow for the true joy their love could bring? Is Jon ready to trust his heart and embrace the love an ugly duckling never believed he’d find? Order Special
Save $10! This 6-book Sweet Contemporary Romance series from Sweet Promise Press features a group of best friends from NYC who have sworn off marriage in favor of their careers. When they meet their Mr. Right, they must each decide if they will take a chance on love. Pre-order the complete set to not only save $10 (that's like getting 2 books for free), but also to receive the full set on January 4 when book 1 launches. Are you ready to dive into this great new series?
Only 99¢ Through Sunday
Save $3! on these three heartwarming holiday tales.

Holiday Escape
Bridget O’Brien lost her fiancé to a dangerous job. And, while she’d love to have a relationship like the one she lost, the last thing she wants is one with another man who willingly puts his life in danger. Luke Foster is a motocross racer whose track record with women runs short and no-strings-attached on both sides. He’d never seriously pursue a forever-after woman like Bridget. All they want is a holiday week away. Bridget from her well-meaning family’s condolences about her planned Christmas Eve wedding and her memories of a future that won’t be. Luke from his family’s annual critique at which he and his life choices always fall short of expectations. But, under the blue Caribbean skies, anything can happen.

Team Macachek Christmas
Sparks fly from a Christmastime reunion of motocross racer Jesse Brewster and his ex-girlfriend Lauren Cooper. Being thrown together to plan the race team's Christmas party reignites a flame Lauren thought she'd extinguished when she broke up with Jesse six months earlier. But will Jesse's well-meaning secret Christmas gift—meant to help win her back—compromise the independence Lauren is fighting to establish? Is it, as she maintains, the wrong time for their love?

Christmas Pizza to the Rescue
Jilted at the alter two weeks ago, motocross champion Royce Evans plans to make an appearance at the Team Macachek Christmas party to show the guys he’s just fine. Then he’ll hunker down alone at the team barracks for the rest of the holiday season. Out-of-work investigative reporter turned pizza delivery person Samantha Linder needs money for her younger sister’s special school tuition and needs to re-establish her cred as a reporter. When a freak winter rain storm strands them alone at the barracks, they strike a bargain that benefits them both. But after Sam appears to break that bargain, can even the spirit of Christmas save their blossoming love?

And don't miss our Holiday Party at the Sweet Romance Reads Cafe on Facebook.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Wishing you a blessed Christmas... Roxanne Rustand

This will be my only December blog post,  so this is my chance to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

I love writing novels with a Christmas theme. Montana Mistletoe is out now, and is the first of three novels in my Love Inspired Rocky Mountain Ranch series.   Here's the blurb...

Wanted: a nanny for Christmas!
The only job Abby Halliwell can find in her Montana hometown is temporary nanny to two mischievous little girls...but it's on her ex-boyfriend Jess Langford's ranch.  He desperately needs help raising the twins suddenly left in his care.  

Neither he nor Abby are interested in romance, but between unexpected holiday happenings and the efforts of his grandma and two pint-sized matchmakers, will their business arrangement turn into something more?

Do you have some special treats you like to make over the holidays?  Those leaving a comment will be in a drawing for an e-copy of my novella,  An Irish Christmas Blessing---with two winners!

Here is a recipe for the Christmas cut-out cookies I have been making for decades.  It's easy to use--and can be rolled out numerous times if you have little helpers.  :)  I usually only use butter in my cookies, but this recipe does need shortening instead.

Roxanne's Christmas Cookies 

1 cup white Crisco (not butter flavored)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp real vanilla
2 Tbsp milk

Cream well, then add the dry ingredients:
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Roll out, cut into shapes, and bake 8-10 min at 350. I just love red hots....can you tell which one is going to mine?  Now I need to bake these, and get back to writing!

I would love to hear about your favorite holiday recipes!