Friday, January 24, 2020

Snow Day/Sew Day by Pat Simmons

Hi all,
It's in my humble  opinion that snow days shouldn't be just for children to enjoy. I live in St. Louis where our weather can change from day to day. Sometimes, hour to hour--literally.

So with a couple of snow days predicted, I'm the mastermind of  the outfits I can sew in a few days--ahh. Can't wait.

I'm a self-taught seamtress, which meant that I was clueless when I put together my first project in my mid-twenties. I guess you can say I was winging it. I made a dress out of upholstery fabric--no wonder it was stiff. Hey, I liked the color.

I was  proud when a finished garment that actually resembled the photo on the pattern.  I've had my challenges over the past decades. Some garments fit, some were too tight and others just were off. One time, I made my husband a suit. It was nice, except I put the button holes on the wrong side meant for a ladies suit. LOL

Last month, I picked a pattern for a festive occasion--my church's annual Christmas gala. I took a strapless dress and added a top to cover the shoulders and used another pattern for the sleeves.





Fast forward to last week, and I needed something semi-formal for a 80th birthday party. This time, I set my sights on velvet, which I had never sewn before and heard horror stories about sewing it. With this fabric, there was no margin for error. Ripping a seam is part of the sewing process, if you're a perfectionist. One wrong stitch and I could ruin this expensive fabric. The original pattern I wanted to create was a flirty knee-length dress with three rows of flounces and a zipper. I'll admit, I chickened out and switched to a pullover dress without a zipper. I added a lining for a better fit. I like the way it turned out. What do you think?
So come on snow days, I've got more clothes to sew!

---------------------




Thursday, January 23, 2020

Practicing Gratitude by Laura Ashwood

If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice. – Meister Eckhart


Gratitute.  It's a simple word that has profound meaning.  Webster defines it as "the state of being grateful: Thankfulness."  Gratitude can shift your focus from what you perceive your life to lack to the abundance that is already present.  Studies show that the regularly practicing gratitude makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress.

People tend to take for granted the good that is already present in their lives, I am not an exception.  It seems that I find myself all too often lamenting about things I wish I had, or how my life would be better if I only had this or could do this or that instead of looking at everything I already do have.  As an author, it's really easy to fall into impostor syndrome when I read a book that I love, thinking I can never write like that.  While I think that is natural and can be motivating on one level, it makes me feel awful on another.  There are people that would love to have what I have. 

When she was in high school, our daughter spent a weekend doing a mission project in the cities with our church youth group. They were cleaning and painting a building that was being used as a shelter for disadvantaged and homeless individuals. As she talked about her experience, she was overcome with tears. She explained that as they were handing out bags containing some personal toiletry items, an individual asked her for her socks. She never even considered socks being a covetable item.  Neither have I.  When I want socks, I open a dresser drawer and have many to choose from.  Have I considered being grateful for socks?  Not intentionally.

They say that if you want to start attracting positive things into your life, there is one small thing you should do every day—show your gratitude, appreciation and love for the people and things around you.  Over the past decade, researchers have identified great social, psychological, and physical health benefits that come from giving thanks. Benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike.  It makes perfect sense. 

Image result for i am grateful

The Bible is FULL of verses about Gratitude.  Among my favorites is:

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

Give thanks in ALL circumstances.  It's not always easy.  I have gone through things in my life that I was NOT thankful for when I was going through them.  Looking back at those times, I can see the lessons I learned and how my life changed for the better for having gone through those experiences.  It's my goal to remember to give thanks even when I cannot find a "tangible reason" to be thankful.

This year I am determined to find gratitude in my daily life by keeping a Gratitude Journal. The idea is to make time several times each week to write down 3-5 things you are thankful for; soap, socks, or maybe just simply being.  Some helpful tips if you decide to start a gratitude journal:
  • Don’t just go through the motions. Research by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky and others suggests that journaling is more effective if you first make the conscious decision to become happier and more grateful. “Motivation to become happier plays a role in the efficacy of journaling,” says Emmons.
  • Get personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
  • Try subtraction, not just addition. One effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than just tallying up all those good things.
  • Savor surprises. Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
  • Don’t overdo it. Writing occasionally (three to five times per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling. “We adapt to positive events quickly, especially if we constantly focus on them,” says Emmons. “It seems counterintuitive, but it is how the mind works.” Source
Once you become oriented toward looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you naturally begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted. Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations.

What are you thankful for??


______
Connect with Laura on her website or sign up for her newsletter here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Sweet Romance Reads Bargain Books by Margaret Daley, Josie Riviera, Laura Scott, Kristin Wallace, Kimberly Rose Johnson, and Jackie Castle



Deadly Fires—99¢ through Jan. 29th
By Margaret Daley
Blurb:
Second Chances. Revenge. Arson.
A saboteur targets Alexia Richards and her family company. As the incidents become more lethal, Alexia must depend on a former Delta Force soldier, Cole Knight, a man from her past that she loved. When their son died in a fire, their grief and anger drove them apart. Can Alexia and Cole work through their pain and join forces to find the person who wants her dead?






Seeking Patience, A Regency Inspirational Romance--99¢ through January 22nd
by Josie Riviera
Blurb:
Half-Romany, half-English lord, he lives a perilous Gypsy life … until a sweet English rose saves his life, and perhaps his soul. Widowed by a cruel husband, she's given up all hope of love. Brought together in peril, they dare to reach for a brighter future together.
Do people prove their worth by strength, or by character?
 Buy links:  Seeking Patience (Seeking Series Book 3) 




Christmas in Shellwater Key Box Set (includes 3 holiday novellas)
by Kristin Wallace

Free on Kindle Unlimited

Spend Christmas in sunny Florida. No ticket required! A New Christmas Box Set featuring 3 holiday tales filled with laughter, tears and the magic of Christmas. 

Christmas in Shellwater Key…
- A woman who thought life & love had passed her by…
- A single mom-to-be without a room at the inn…
- A heartbroken widow who learns she can find a second chance at love…

Finding You At Christmas, Falling For You At Christmas, Loving You At Christmas 


To Love - by Laura Scott Book 1 in the McNally Family series. FREE through January 28th.


Desperate for a fresh start, Jazz McNally pours her energy into renovating her grandparent's mansion overlooking Lake Michigan. Her goal is to turn the cherished childhood home into a bed and breakfast she'd manage with her twin sister.  When vandals strike, Jazz needs help fast or risk missing the date of their grand opening and being in debt to her four older brothers.

Drifter Dalton O'Brien doesn't mind giving Jazz a hand. Once the job was complete he'd be on his way. But he enjoys spending time with her, more than he should. When vandalism escalates into danger, Dalton is determined to keep Jazz safe. Can he let go of the ghosts in his past long enough to embrace the future?


A four book collection that includes the entire Sunriver Dreams series along with a bonus book for only 99¢. Included in Kindle Unlimited.
Available at Amazon.



Secretly In Love (Madison Creek Town Series Novella Book 1) 


Sage Dolan glances at Nikolai Prater and inwardly regretted the high school pact she’d made with him and her BFF, Moi Tamsyn, that the three of them would be friends forever. Nothing but friends. Yet, when Nikolai returned from his mission trip last year, Sage’s feelings for him exploded and the pact gets harder and harder to keep.

Then on April fool’s day, she receives a letter from a secret admirer. A joke from her twin siblings.

Nikolai’s life changed after the mission trip. One thing he has to face is his feelings for Sage. Pact or no pact, he needs to let her know how he feels. Overhearing Sage and Moi talk about how they wished they received real love letters, Nikolai comes up with the perfect solution. He sends her an anonymous love letter, but instead of love, he reaps the wild, whirlwind of Sage who is already angry about being made a fool of once and won’t stand for being the fool twice.

Secretly In Love a Madison Creek novella -Get it for FREE!
The beginning book of this series is a fun romance that will get the reader ready to keep reading the entire series. ★★★★★ Kindle Reader

Jackie Castles books are so sweet and so fun! Such a joy to read. I will continue getting her books😉  By lissapax  ★★★★★




Monday, January 20, 2020

Revisions...

I had the best of intentions for this holiday weekend. Friday night, I made my list of the things I needed to do and planned to put together this awesome blog post, along with several other things that included getting my revisions done for a story coming out later this year.

Flash forward ahead to tonight. It's after midnight and I'm just sending off those revisions that took up all of my weekend and Monday off from the day job with the exception of church, food, and short bouts of sleep. But, it's done, sent to my editor, and now, I'm sitting her wishing I could revise my weekend to have included some fun things, too. Things such as:


Visiting with family--my parents, grandmother, my kids, even my husband! I've totally ignored them all and am in need of some family loving. Ack.

Quilting. This is my stress relief. I love, love, love to quilt. Taking bit of material, sewing them together, and creating something useful that can wrap a person in love makes

 Halo: Halo is my precious Maltese who loves to cuddle and be loved on. She actually likes when I'm revising because my butt is in a chair and she can cuddle up close, but I'd rather be playing and loving on her than her sleeping next to me.
me happy.

Exercising. As odd as this may sound, I enjoy how I feel AFTER I've exercised. During, not so much. LOL.

Shopping. One of the things that was also on my to do list is to find a Mother of the Groom dress for my son's wedding in a couple of months.

Cleaning my house....oops, that's not supposed to be on this list of FUN things. I appreciate a clean house, but not the actual cleaning. I did have a few things on my list that pertained to house-cleaning though. None of those things got done except for those that my fabulous husband while his wife was glued to her computer. Y'all, I'm so not posting a photo of me cleaning or of my not clean house. If I had one of my hubby in a cute apron, I'd post that, though he might get me. ;)

Reading a good book. Wasn't on my list for this weekend, but how how fabulous the thought of curling up with a good book is! Make it lying in the shade on a gorgeous beach with a slight breeze and an ice cold drink and this girl is in heaven.

Sneaking away for a weekend in the mountains. We live a few hours away from Gatlinburg and love to get away to the mountains, to sit on our balcony, and breathe in the fresh air, and to just escape the hustle and bustle...although it's only a short drive into town to find all the hustle & bustle and great food you could want. :)

So, how was your holiday weekend? Did you get lots done? Have lots of fun? Or, if like me, you worked all weekend, how do you wish you could 'revise' your weekend to have really been like?


The Perks Of Audio by Jackie Castle


There are times when reading a print or kindle isn't practical. Still, we all want to escape those downtimes like... oh, maybe waiting in a doctor's office? Or that long commute home through endless traffic? Especially when the radio is giving more commercials than music. Or those road trip with endless miles and no radio signal at all?

This is where I think audio has some real perks!

Let's look at all the ways that audio books can save the day...


 























What do you think? Do you enjoy audio books? What's your favorite place to listen to them?

I have four of my Madison Creek books available at Audible and iTunes. Snow Belle, book 1 of the Madison Creek B&B series is only .99¢ for the ebook and you can add audible for just a little more. Learn more here.
Kamie Tierce did a wonderful job on books 1-3! I was thrilled to work with her.


Welcome to Madison Creek Where Northern Hospitality Meets Southern Comfort

Their big dreams might cause them to lose everything - including each other.

Haley Madison packed her big dreams and drove to the Arctic. Well, all right, so it's Madison Creek, Michigan. But for a Texas gal, this frozen land ought to come with a sled and huskies. If it wasn't for her family's rundown property, she'd have stayed where the sun shone bright and warm. However, she has grand ideas for her inheritance even if the town has thrown up their objections to her plans.

Ethan Winters hated going home and admitting failure. Sure, he has a special talent with the violin, but he has bigger ambitions than playing at the local bowling alley. And then there was the idea of facing his father. No, he wasn't ready to go home yet.

He veered off the interstate and drove to a little town named Madison Creek. Maybe his luck would change.

When the southern SnowBelle literally blows him off the road with her rogue snowblower...more than just his luck will change.

Here's a sample for you to check out first. Enjoy!



Oh, btw-- I'm Cafe Queen for the day. Stopping in at our Sweet Romance Readers Cafe and I just might be giving a couple of gifts away. You'll have to come and see.

Thanks for stopping in!
Happy Reading and Many Blessings to you all!
Jackie Castle

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Bargain Books by Lyn Cote, Magdalena Scott and Pat Simmons

 
My sweet romance, Only Her Heart, is on sale for 99 cents till Jan 31st. (Book 1 of "Opposites Attract" series)

BLURB:
 Gracie has loved her boss Jack since the day she started work as his executive assistant but Jack’s too engrossed in computer coding and security to notice. Soon his life is upended by a hacker who is endangering lives. Before it’s too late, can he stop the hacker and finally realize he loves his faithful Girl Friday? 
Four unlikely couples find opposites do attract even in the shadow of mystery~


BTW, this book ONLY HER HEART is included with many more bargain books in this promo. Click here! 


Midnight in Legend, TN, book 1 of the 9-title McClains series, is FREE!

She needs a new life, he’s determined to maintain the status quo. If they don’t compromise, the whole town loses.


New Yorker Midnight Shelby is starting over. A real estate agent’s virtual tour of a Main Street building in tiny Legend, Tennessee caught her eye and she left her smarmy ex-husband, the big city, and corporate life behind. The town is struggling but Midnight has ideas that will give it new life as well.


Realtor Martin McClain was born and raised in the Legend area. His family has lived there for generations, and he feels a duty to preserve it. The website his son created has been good for business, but Martin's troubled past makes him wary of newcomers’ motivations.


Especially Midnight Shelby, who seems bent on changing everything…even him.



Get your copy FREE from these stores:

books2read.com/mcclains-midnight


-----------------------


There is no price tag on love!  Her Dress by Pat Simmons is short story is inspired by any woman who gets all dressed up and then the unthinkable happens:


After splurging on a one-of-a-kind evening dress, Pepper Trudeau hopes to dazzle the crowd at a St. Louis soiree. With her hair in place and makeup polished, Pepper stands confident, at least steady, in her ridiculous stilettos as she heads out the door—dateless.  


Drake Logan almost didn’t come to the gala, but when he catches a glimpse of an exotic beauty in a dress that seemed made for her figure, he almost lost his mind. Sometimes a man only gets one shot to impress a woman, and taking advantage of the moment, Drake will do whatever it takes to capture Pepper’s heart on the spot. 


Only .99!!


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Sweet Romance Reads New Releases for January 2020


Her Holiday Hero
Margaret Daley

Kathleen Somers is a prima ballerina at the top of her ballet career. When she is tragically hurt in a car accident, she has to walk away from her life’s dream. Kathleen comes home to the Soaring S Ranch to recuperate and runs into her high school sweetheart, the one person who understood her. But she made the choice to throw everything into her ballet career and walked away from Nate Sterling.

Years later, they meet again at the Soaring S Ranch. Nate is now a livestock veterinarian and works with big animals at the ranches in the area. As the vet that treats the ranch’s stock, he and Kathleen are thrown together while she is struggling to put her life back together. He is determined to show Kathleen there is more to life than the world of dance. With the help of a therapy dog, Kathleen begins to see that there could be a life beyond ballet thanks to Nate challenging her. As Kathleen and Nate grow closer and capture what they had as high school sweethearts, will she turn her back on Nate again when an opportunity comes her way to immerse her in the ballet world again?


Available on Amazon 





Seeking Rachel 
Josie Riviera
(The Seeking Series Book 4) 
An inspirational Regency Romance

When faith is adrift, the heart is the compass leading the way home.

Rachel Lockhart grew up running wild and free with nomadic Gypsy children on her father’s estate. Craving adventure, her imagination conjured up an impossibly perfect, grey-eyed man to share it with.

Now grown, her outspoken ways are about to send her home from London in disgrace. Until she clashes with an impossibly perfect, grey-eyed man. And the back of her mind echoes with God’s promise: I will not leave you comfortless. As if she’d find comfort with a man as arrogant as Nash Browning.

Broken by too many sea battles, soul-sick from recent loss, Nash doesn’t know where to begin to search for his lost faith. It certainly isn’t among the addle-brained females of the ton. But when he stumbles upon an enticing masterwork of contrasts named Rachel, his weary heart sparks with life.

Is it possible the way back to his faith is with a woman who is honest to a fault, yet fiercely loyal to a shunned people? Can he set a course for their future, trusting that God has prepared the way?

A thread of faith, however faint, can lead you to your destiny.

Available on Amazon




No Time for Detours (The No Brides Club)

Jean C. Gordon

⚖️💘 Can She Balance Law School and Love? 💘⚖️

Former pre-school teacher Ava Lewis has a need to prove herself to her family and the world. Now that she's been provisionally accepted into NYU's law school, she's on her way to doing just that. But to afford her dream, she has to make ends meet. And she gets an unexpected solution—a job offer from her neighbor businessman Nick Jansen. When five-year-old twins are left in his care while their guardian goes off on a month-long honeymoon, he knows he can't handle the rabble-rousers on his own. That's where Ava comes in.

After a broken engagement, and some words of dis-encouragement from his jaded mother, Nick has accepted that he's meant to be alone, and the world would be better off for it. But as the kids warm to Ava, so does he, and he starts to feel the ice around his heart melting away.

However, when Ava's law school admission is jeopardized, Nick's need to fix things threatens her independence and dreams of carving out the life she wants. Will they be able to see their love is strong enough to handle anything life tosses their way?


Available on Amazon (Kindle Unlimited) and B&N (Paperback only)




Paris in the Springtime

Susan Aylworth


Paris is back home, but not for long.

Emotionally gut-punched after false accusations lead to the loss of her job, Paris Cutler returns to her grandmother’s home in Destiny, California to take a breath and figure out what comes next. But when Paris runs into her old high school crush, she’s flustered by how great he looks. What’s he still doing in little, nowhere Destiny?

Greg Frantz never forgot the pretty but troubled Paris. She’s grown into a beautiful and accomplished woman with a passionate nature that knocks him off his feet. Greg knows Paris sees the small mountain town as a temporary stop only, but he’d love to persuade her otherwise. What can he do to keep her close…permanently?


Available on AmazonAppleBarnes & NobleKobo




A Match to Call Ours
Merrillee Whren


Brittany Gorman needs a job, but nanny to six-year-old twin girls isn’t exactly what she’s looking for. Their single father, Parker Watson, isn’t sure hiring Brittany is the right move, but he’s desperate for help.

Soon Brittany is charming the twins and their father as well. But Parker still clings to the bitterness of his past, a past that has made him a recluse on his isolated Montana ranch, distanced him from God, and kept him from finding love.

Can Brittany’s prayers and two little matchmakers soften Parker’s heart and help him find love with his perfect Montana match?

Available on AmazonB&NKoboiBooks



The Mail-Order Standoff
Vickie McDonough, et al

A 4-in1 Novella Collection

Mail-Order Brides Get Cold Feet

Marriage plans are put on hold in the Old West when four mail-order brides have second thoughts. How will their grooms win their trust?

Twice the Trouble by Vickie McDonough
Cactus Creek, Texas, 1888
When Connor McLoughlin and his cousin Brian order a pair of mail-order brides, they think they’re getting two sweet Irish lasses. But what they get is a stage load of shenanigans.

Availble on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo