Thursday, November 29, 2012

Melissa Ann Goodwin comes to Cape Cod!

Melissa Goodwin will be on Cape Cod - in Yarmouth - tomorrow night to sign copies of her wonderful childrens book, The Christmas Village.

Here are the details:

Friday, November 30, from 6 to 8pm
One Centre Street Inn
1 Center Street,Yarmouth Port MA 02675 
If you're a fan of Melissa's blog, stop over there to give her a shout out! If you're going to be on Cape Cod for one of the wonderful Christmas Strolls going on this weekend, stop by the Inn and say hi in person! Center Street is right off 6A in Yarmouth Port, easy to get to.
She's a wonderful and warm person, and I've had fun getting to know her as we've gone back and forth online about her visits to Cape Cod, among her various travels over the past year. Melissa also wrote a wonderful article for the Holiday Issue of CapeWomenOnline magazine - check it out in our Literary Women section.
And Don't Forget to send her some love ;-) 

When 12-year-old Jamie Reynolds comes to his grandparents' Vermont home for Christmas, he just wants things to go back to the way they were before his dad disappeared. Time and again he is drawn to Grandma's miniature Christmas village, where he imagines that life is perfect.

Late one night, his fantasy of escaping into it becomes very real indeed.

Jamie discovers that the village is called Canterbury, where the year is 1932. He becomes fast friends with Kelly and Christopher Pennysworth, and is taken in by Ida, who runs the local boarding house. But he also makes a dangerous enemy of the mysterious and menacing Jim Gordon, whose return to town is nothing but trouble.

As Jamie desperately races against time to find his way back home, he is suddenly faced with a terrifying choice: to go ahead with his plan to leave, or to stay and help his friends, at the risk of never going home again.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: Gingerbread Madness

When the boys were little, we started a family tradition that involved gingerbread houses. Or, in the case of this one in the photo, graham cracker shacks!

The annual contest is not as much about beauty as... innovation. Best use of materials. A unique chimney made out of something different. A scene in the "yard" that makes us laugh. Something we haven't seen before...

Most important is having fun.

Some years it gets competitive. The year one of my sisters was in Culinary School she got a little wacky with wanting to be precise and drove her partner - my son - Absolutely Crazy. Because he knew that's not what it should be about. Gingerbread contests shouldn't be about precision. They're about fun.

Do you make gingerbread - or graham cracker - houses? If you've got a crowd (or classroom) of kids, graham crackers are totally the way to go. (Or if you want to build a shanty town, like we did one year...) My dad instituted the idea of prizes - but everybody gets one. He comes up with a prize title that "fits" each individual work... and each winner gets a dollar. Even though they're teenagers now, the dollar still means something. The tradition still means something.

Probably because it's a tradition.

Do you have a tradition like this in your home?

Monday, November 26, 2012

UNFOLDING THE SHADOWS available in Paperback!

Today I'm celebrating a new release - kind of. My debut novel UNFOLDING THE SHADOWS first hit e-readers in 2009... but as of November 20, 2012 it's now FINALLY available as a paperback, too!

The publisher is Ellora's Cave, for the Blush line of sweet romances, but this is more a romantic suspense wrapped up in a ghost story.

It's available on Amazon for the paperback price of $16.99... and still available as an ebook, on sale for $1.49 for your Kindle.

The back-of-book blurb reads:

Jillian has worked hard to close the doors on her past and the psychic abilities that defined her youth. For sixteen years, she's ignored the ghosts who still try to whisper to her. Even her controlling husband Kyle has no idea that his wife can talk to spirits. But on the day after Christmas, her great aunt's car smashes head-on with a commuter train and Jillian finds herself on a collision course with ghosts who refuse to remain in the shadows any longer.

Long-hidden secrets are coming to light and Jillian's life has to change to accommodate them. With the help of her friends and a substantial inheritance, she sets her life in a new direction, but Kyle's not about to lose out on his share of Jillian's inheritance... even if he has to kill her to get it.

Follow this link to order your copy today:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Countdown to Christmas!

It's the day after Thanksgiving and you know what that means....

It's the start of the Official Countdown to Christmas! (cue the confetti and carols!)

Now, I know that the Christmas aisles have been set up for a while in BJs and Home Depot and just about every other chain store out there. Heck, a few of the little shops in Harwich Port decorated with lights and trees over Veterans Day weekend.

But to me, the day after Thanksgiving will ALWAYS be the official start of the season. Time to write out the holiday cards and start playing carols while baking yummy treats to give as gifts. Nothing says Christmas like the smell of pine in the living room and cinnamon scents wafting from the kitchen.

Ready... Set... Celebrate!

And tell me, what's your favorite part of the holiday season? What are you most looking forward to in the next month?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks...

Today is traditionally the biggest travel day of the year, and Puppy can't wait to get on the road. She's going to have to battle my daughter for her seat - both of them claim the same seat in the minivan as "exclusive" - Puppy has more weight to throw around but my daughter has been known to throw elbows. We'll see who wins. As long as Puppy stays away from the apple pie and the basket of chocolate we have for the hostess, we'll all be fine...

Actually, Puppy and her sister are convinced they're being left behind with the house sitter. But this year, they've been invited to join us for Thanksgiving at their cousin Louie's insistence.
Puppy has never been to visit Louie's house - hopefully she behaves herself and the cousins don't get into too much mischief. But I'm thankful that we can all be together for the holiday, whether or not there's an "emergency" bath involved.

For all of you traveling this week - be safe out there! And for all of you hosting holiday feasts and holiday guests - take a deep breath. Remember why you're busy cleaning house and preparing food, and be thankful for your abundance of friends and family. Because that's what this holiday is all about. Giving thanks.

And if you're thinking about skipping out on dessert to get a good place in line at some super store that plans to open Thanksgiving night, or skip the football game so you can wake up before dawn to shop the Black Friday sales...don't. Relax, and enjoy this holiday first - the only one with NO gifts involved or expected. Saturday is early enough to start shopping for the next holiday.

Remember to give thanks for all you have, and be grateful for each of those people around your table.

I'm grateful for all the blog and Facebook friends I've made over the last few years, and for your words of encouragement and support. I'm thankful for the opportunity my new publisher is giving me to break into the world of YA with my mermaid tale, and for having found such a wonderful, supportive environment with the authors of Crescent Moon Press. I'm grateful for both my immediate and extended family, and that everyone is now relatively healthy - illness in the family is so hard on everyone it touches. And I'm grateful for my three wonderful children - five if you include the dogs - who bring joy to my life every day, even when they're making me crazy.

Now, tell us something you're grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Holiday Issue of CapeWomenOnline is Here!

The Holiday 2012 Issue of CapeWomenOnline magazine is available online now! Filled with inspiring stories and fun ideas just in time for the start of the holiday season, we hope you enjoy this issue of the magazine.

From creative cookie recipes to a tongue-in-cheek look at the ubiquitous holiday letter, to stories of local food banks and the homeless situation on Cape Cod, to tales of perseverance and courage, this issue has a little something for everyone.

And remember, we're always looking for more good stories. If you have a Cape Cod connection and a story to tell, send me a note and let's talk. The deadline for the Winter 2013 issue is coming right up on December 3rd, and new for 2013 we're going to have themes for each issue, to help get your creative juices flowing. The theme for Winter 2013 is "Fire and Ice" and will focus on the duality of our current times and the world we live in.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Holidays are On Their Way...

Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? And Hanukkah starts soon after that... and then, before you know it...Christmas.

I've been working with Christmas and Holiday themed articles and stories for the last two months as we put together the Holiday issue of CapeWomenOnline magazine. We should be launching the magazine online this weekend (if there are no major snafus) but I've been thinking about the nature of this issue. It doesn't seem as "jolly" as previous years, or as glittery and over-the-top as the word "Holiday" seems to demand. Nor does it seem to me that people are withdrawing to curl up next to the fireplace and only focus on their own close-knit family. The feeling in the air is different this year.

And I don't think it's just me.

Maybe I'm just being the eternal optimist, but it seems like people are reaching out more. The actual "Spirit of Christmas" is alive and well, even if it isn't dusted with quite as much glitter and shiny toys.

Yes, the economy is still struggling, but people are refocusing on buying smaller and buying local to keep their local shops alive. Not a day has gone by in the last month that I haven't gotten a Facebook notice about another fundraiser for a good cause, or another collection for the victims of Hurricane Sandy who lost it all in the storm. People are looking outward, to help others in need,

Small things and simple acts are taking on more importance. The spirit of giving and volunteering seems  popular again - and even "cool" among students.

As I struggle to wrap my mind around holiday shopping, it occurs to me that my kids aren't asking for much this year. Maybe that's normal as they turn into teens and young adults, that they realize they don't need every shiny toy advertised on television. They are happy with what they have, and are more focused on what to give others.

How about you - have you noticed a downward shift in the "holiday frenzy," or am I just being optimistic?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Puppy Tales: The Ubiquitous Christmas Photo

The sun was shining and the air was unseasonably warm yesterday. AND the kids were out of school for the Veterans Day holiday. AND Snapfish was having a one-day sale on penny prints. You know what that means?

Puppy thought it meant a long romp on the beach. Um, perhaps that should have been my objective. But no. I decided it was time to take the annual Christmas photo.

Before you roll your eyes at me, let me say that I really do enjoy receiving everyone's photos each year, and seeing how the kids have grown and changed, and hearing all the news. I LOVE that part of Christmas - catching up with friends from all across the country whom we don't get to see every year or nearly enough in general. But I tend to stress out a bit about choosing a photo of my own to send out to everyone.

Now, I know some people scroll through and pick good shots from throughout their "normal" year. As in, NOT a posed picture specific for the holidays. And then there are others who go to great lengths with matching holiday garb...

I'm somewhere in the middle. When the boys were little I used to put them in matching - or at least complimentary - outfits. Surly teens don't fall for that kind of thing. I'm lucky I got them into button down shirts on a non-grandparent holiday.

Puppy, however, didn't understand the point of being ON THE BEACH and not chasing seagulls. Why were we sitting in the dunes instead of splashing in the waves? WHAT WAS THE POINT???

I thought she would be my biggest problem when I scrolled through the hundred plus shots I snapped off on the rapid-fire surly teenager setting that my camera is luckily equipped with. Umm, no again. Puppy was a trooper - looking cute and cuter in each shot. Seriously, tongue in, tongue out, winking her eye at the camera. Too cute for words. For the most part, she was the perfect two year old.

It was the kids. Who are much more than two. And who have been doing this for how many years now? Making faces, looking away, not smiling, closing their eyes... argh!

We did eventually get a couple that I liked. (NOT one of these, or the 96 others that didn't work out...) I placed the order with Snapfish before their sale ended. Another holiday task completed and checked off the list.

How about you? Do you "torture" your children like this? Or send photo cards? Do you like receiving them? What's your family tradition? Tell us - because I may need to come up with something new for next year!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Do You NaNo?

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this month?

Why? Why Not?

I decided Not to sign up officially, as I thought it would stress me out. Seriously. The month of November just has too many days off from school and too many events - scheduled and unscheduled - for me to participate without going a little wonky.

The year I "played along" and took the NaNo challenge seriously, I completed the first draft of my second novel. It was a good thing, and a good experience. And I needed a month off from writing afterward.

Last year, my mom was sick which was stress enough. This year has been so full of stressers already that I didn't really consider adding more just for fun.

I decided to "unofficially" NaNo. I'm not signed up. But I am working on the sequel to Son of A Mermaid, which is scheduled for a May 2013 release. And I'm 12,000+ words into it as of yesterday. *Yea!* But I'm still not signed up and don't feel that NaNo stress. Also, *Yea!*

Next year? We'll see. If our house project is complete and I have a new office space carved out, it may be the perfect way to "break it all in," so to speak. Well, that and the ginormous Halloween party I'm already planning in my head.

But that's next year. What about You and This Year's NaNo?

Why or Why Not? That is the question.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Puppy Tales: Puppy versus Sandy

 It's been a long, strange week along much of the East Coast. The ocean has been wild and angry.

The day after Sandy passed, Puppy still wasn't allowed off her leash as we toured the erosion in our neighborhood.

Headed to the beach now before it rains, hoping for a chance to run.

Thoughts and prayers are with all those in the areas hard hit by Sandy, Puppy sends her love, too.