Friday, December 31, 2010

Winner Announcement!

Anne Rainey will contact her winner direct. 

The winner of an ebook from Madison's backlist is...Susan! Yay you! Congrats! Could you email Madison at:

The winner of a copy of Latin Rhythm from Tess is...Valerie! Congrats, love! Could you email Tess at:

The winner of Scared by Sarah Masters from Nat is...JenB! Yeee har! Well done! Could you email Nat at:

The winner of an e-book from Regina's backlist is...Emily! Yippee! Congrats! Could you email Regina at:


New Year's Eve

So it’s that time of year again, where we ponder what’s been and what’s to come. Amazing to think that I sat here a year ago and made my resolutions—which I stuck to, a first for me! One year on—where did the time go?—and I have new resolutions that I’m determined to pull off. I had doubts yesterday, because I’m a realist and know that one thing I’ve decided to do is going to be hard work, but who knows, maybe I’ll achieve that aim. The others are easy and I know in a year’s time I’ll be able to say I accomplished them.
I used to look at the past with regret, but now I look upon it as a time to reflect, see where I went wrong and how I can make sure I don’t make the same mistakes in the future. Although some things have been difficult, I can’t say I’d change them otherwise I wouldn’t be the person I am now. What about you?  
Some personal aims of mine are to become stronger and less of a doormat. I’ve been working on this for years, and I think now I’m at the point in my life where I realise I matter too. It isn’t all about everyone else all of the time. There has to be give and take, a space for me in this world where I can indulge myself and not worry about what everyone else wants from me or what they think about me taking time for myself. So, although I’ll be the same person, the words “no” or “do it yourself” will be in my vocabulary a lot more. I think because I’m easy going, it isn’t difficult for people to just assume I’m there, that I will always drop everything for them. I now don’t think so. Times are a changing!
So, do you have any resolutions you know you can stick to? I’m not talking about giving up smoking, losing weight, or creating world peace here. Just a small thing that is attainable, a goal that you can reach with a little hard work and patience. Please share!
Tonight we'll be staying in. We don't go out and get roaring drunk on New Year's. We're rather boring and usually end up in bed way before midnight. Maybe this year we'll be different and stay up, see the New Year in with a cup of tea (LOL!). Are you off out anywhere? If you are, where are you going? If not, what are your plans? (I'm terribly nosy. Sorry!)
Today I’m giving away a book bundle. One commenter will win 5 of my books from any of my pen names. This week’s winners will be posted later on today.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas treats

Wow... Isn't it funny how you spend so much time preparing for Christmas and then it seems like its gone in the blink of an eye? Christmas 2010 has already passed and I'm still in a little bit of shock about it.

I have to say... it has been one of the best Christmas's I've had in a long time though. You see, the week before was pretty exciting for me. It was a crazy, whirlwind of a weekend, where I ended up with four offers of representation from agents. In the end, I went with Denise Little of Ethan Ellenberg Literary and I couldn't be happier about it!

Then move onto Christmas. My girls had a blast. We spent the day with family, had good food and I watched a house full of smiling people all day. It's so incredible watching the look of awe on the little one's faces when they realize Santa came. How for that one day you don't hear, "I'm bored" LOL. I loved it.

And the icing on my Christmas cake this year? I was able to treat myself to a Christmas/Birthday gift. I now have my very own NOOK COLOR! It's so cool. I hardly ever do stuff like that for myself. It's easy to spend on the kids or hubby, but not so easy to spend on myself. I was proud I did it and you know what? I think I deserved it.

What is the best you have treated yourself to?

Remember, one lucky commenter will win a free copy of one of my books! Winner will be announced on Friday!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twisting Traditions

On this final week of Jingle Bell Rockin' I will give a download of a book of the winners choice.

I guess every family has certain ways they 'do things' over the holidays and we are no different. Mr. Regina and I have been married for 28 years and we long ago decided to do our best to merge traditions from each of our families plus add a few of our own little twists.

Over the years, I've learned though, to be flexible because situations change, kids grow up. So far, both of our children are single and nowhere near the stage of beginning their own families so things haven't gotten TOO crazy. Normally, we have a nice Christmas Eve buffet. Lots of Christmas music and good food. Over the years, our kids open one 'teaser' gift...usually new pjs. Then on Christmas morning, we stagger out of bed and open our gifts. By the time lunchtime rolls around, we have a more formal dinner and then more gift opening with the grandmothers. This year was a bit different. At first, I was really stressed that things wouldn't always be as they'd been before. I freely admit it rocked me a little bit and made me realize that many traditions can be broken or changed by the simplest thing. Life evolves, changes, and I reckon we need to be a bit more flexible.

My son informed us (when he missed Thanksgiving this year) that despite working Thanksgiving, he'd also be working most of Christmas Day. Of course, we weren't going to celebrate Christmas without him. No way! I realized, though it messed with my normally well-ordered life, that we'd have to twist our traditions around a bit to accomodate him. We did our regular Christmas Eve thing (though it was much quieter without him) and on Christmas Day, we puttered around the house baking cakes and putting together various dishes for an 'evening dinner' instead of a noon one. So when my son arrived on Christmas night, we had our dinner and opened gifts. I'd thought it would feel funny doing everything differently but in a way it was cool trying something new. Guess life CAN teach an old dog new tricks, huh? One day, our kids will have families of their own and other obligations and I figure that'll require even more flexibility. We'll get used to it. We'll adjust.

Now we're sitting back waiting for the end of 2010 and the hope of a wonderful 2011. This year hasn't been a great one for our little family. Lots of struggles will terrible illnesses, lots of worries, doctors, and many many sleepless nights. We are ending this one knowing the worst is behind us. We'll spend our New Year at home as we usually do. My honey will pick up a bottle of bubbly and we'll watch the ball drop, listen to some pretty bad music on the Rockin' New Years Eve thing on tv. We seldom overindulge or 'party hearty' because, shoot, who wants to spend the first day of a brand new year hung over? Yeesh! I will plant my butt in front of my computer and write a bit too. Like many of you, I like to start things off doing what I love most. It will be lots and lots of football on New Year's Day plus black-eyed peas, homemade cornbread and ham for luck. Maybe we'll catch a nap or two.

New Years Resolutions? I seldom make them because life often throws us those little curveballs that make them impossible. So as with our Christmas plans, we will be flexible next year and take things as they come. Nothing wrong with that.

Monday, December 27, 2010

An Almost White Christmas, Snowballs, and TV

This is the last week for gift-giving here at Three Wicked Writers Plus Two. Today I’m offering a copy of my book Latin Rhythm from Pink Petal Books. I’ve NEVER given away a copy before. This is a first. So leave me a comment if you’d like to be entered to win. Natalie Dae will announce the winner on Friday. Also, it’s not too late to get your copy of my free Christmas book: Blame It On Mistletoe. You can get your copy by visiting the Got Romance Reviews site and either commenting to the blog or simply email the GRR ladies. GOTROMANCEREVIEWS@GMAIL.COM Also, Natalie Dae has a free Christmas book available at GRR—Wanton and Wicked. And under Nat’s M/M pen name, Sarah Masters, she has Caught Naked available for free.
Blame It On Mistletoe link:

Wanton and Wicked link:

Caught Naked link:

ANNOUNCEMENT: Natalie Dae and I are very excited and so happy to be able to tell you that our co-authored book, BLACK COUGAR CURSE will be releasing from Ellora’s Cave on January 26th! So mark your calendars and look out for a contest heading your way! Here’s the Blurb:
Deep in the mountain wilderness, Lucia Chavez searches for closure to her father's death, and the mythical black cougar he sought. Drop-dead sexy Cherokee Indian guide Sam Starr knows more than he’s telling. After he saves Lucia from being swept away in a mudslide, the bath they both need steams up a lot more than the mirror. Sam and Lucia are living proof that near-death experiences can bring two people closer together—they can’t keep their hands off each other. Neither has ever experienced anything like the heat that smolders between them.

Amidst danger and mystery, Sam and Lucia explore the lust that burns between them. If their desire for one another gets any stronger, it could bring down the mountains that surround them. Ancient secrets hold the key to their unbridled sexual need. Was their passion written in the stars?

One man. One woman. A curse that binds them—and could tear them apart.

Now on with my final Christmas memories.

Reporting in from Holiday Central here. Lol Hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and made
lots of memories—even though you may not know they will be memories until way later on. I got to thinking, though, what happened this Christmas that I’ll carry with me as a memory? Well, there are a couple of things that stand out in my mind so far.

First, the weather dude kept calling for snow and snatching it back. DROVE ME INSANE. Then he’d do this “trace to 62 inches” kind of report and DROVE ME INSANE. You know the kind of weather report I’m talking about. Sort of like prescription medicine disclaimers. They predict every damn side effect known to mankind and a few alien planets just so they don’t get sued. Well, in our weather dude’s case, we got predictions of nothing to rain to sleet to snow. The promise of my FIRST WHITE CHIRSTMAS EVER literally kept me on edge. At one point the weather dude said: “Keep watching for updates.” And I said, “I watch you closer than your damn wife.” Yeah, I was talking to the TV. Told ya he drove me insane.

My family gets a kick out of me whenever snow is predicted. I’m the original Little Red Hen. Remember that story? The Little Red Hen prepares like crazy and no one helps her but they all want to reap the benefits of her hard work? Yeah, that’s me. So we were prepped and ready for the storm—lots of food and emergency supplies if the power went out, which it didn’t, thankfully.

After watching for the snow all day long Christmas Day, I finally gave up about ten that night and went to bed. Hells bells, I’d been cooking for two days solid. Shopping and cleaning for two days before that. I was exhausted. The Boy was on guard, though—up playing his new X Box games, and he had strict orders to sound the alarm in the case of white stuff.

So about three a.m. on the 26th, he woke me to say we had FLAKES! Technically NOT a White Christmas but close. No, I didn’t get up. lol I waited until six a.m. and then did my little dance at the front door while urging all four dogs to go out in it and relieve themselves. So that will be one of my Christmas memories this year. That and the big snowball The Boy rolled up. Yeah, it was big and had no real purpose other than in his mind. Lol It ended up being about five feet tall, I guess. Got to the point he couldn’t roll it anymore. Yeah, I know, kinda odd. LOL But awful cute! I guess it’ll take a couple of weeks for it to melt.

So my next Christmas memory? My two girls watched all thirteen episodes of Brett Michaels finding his girlfriend on Netflix. Well, twelve, and then the season reunion. The den is next to the kitchen where I spent MOST of my time, and you can imagine the comments I made throughout this marathon dose of so-called reality TV. During the first episode, I became so disgusted with what I was hearing I rounded the corner, waving my big spoon, just to have a 52 inch screen of wall-to-wall boobs in my face. And the big BM right in the middle of them. HA

I have to admit he’s cute. Has this really attractive bad-boy style for sure. But reality TV, as we all know, is a definite misnomer. Nothing real about it. No dude who is intelligent enough to make all the money he made from that show is going to settle down with a gal he chose from a TV show. So the entire premise of the show just pissed me off. Now the thing where they hooked up his manhood to the machine to measure the level of his “turn on” while the girls were trying to engage him in phone sex was funny. Yeah, I sat down and watched that.

You know what I kept thinking, though? Hahahahahaha! We erotic romance authors could have done a much better job than those girls for sure. That machine would have been smokin’ and so would his…hmmmm…okay. Movin’ on!

So folks, The Almost White Christmas, The Boy’s Big Snowball, and a dose of Brett Michaels will be the three things I think I will carry with me from this Christmas for sure. And maybe the fact that my brother forgot about my gift lying in the trunk of his car until four o’clock Christmas afternoon before he remembered it. Yeah, I have to admit I was a bit upset that he hadn’t gotten me a thing for Christmas but never said a word—just held my head high and acted like nothing was wrong. He has bronchitis and was NOT doing well at all Christmas Day so I forgive him. Sort of. Hmmmm…

And now it’s on to New Year’s Eve. You know what they say about New Year’s Eve, right? “Whatever you’re doing at midnight is what you’ll be doing all year long.” So be careful. Pick something that you really want to be doing all year long. In my partying days, lol, I always made sure I got a New Year’s Eve kiss—sometimes more—but I won’t get into all of that. lol But I’ve had a long stretch of years in which I rang in the new year with my kids with a glass of champagne while they had ginger ale too. Thinking about it, I guess in both instances I was exactly where I was supposed to be at the time. But I have to admit, I’m thinking about those kisses again. HA! Both my girls will be out and about. I understand The Boy has been invited to a big sleepover with three other XBoxers at a friend’s house. I’ll be alone. Now on the surface that might sound pretty rough, but when you’re a woman who is rarely alone???? Not so bad.

No. I’m not going to put a sign up on the side of the road inviting kisses. LOL I’m going to buy myself a bottle of Korbel, sit down at my computer about eleven—maybe sooner—and make sure I’m happily tapping away at the keys on one of my works in progress at the stroke of midnight. Why not kissing? Hahahaha This is going to be my YEAR OF WRITING. No editing or teaching this year. I might do some blog posts with writing tips but nothing major on teaching. And NO kissing. Kissing can be a real distraction--know what I mean?

Next year? I might think about that sign on the side of the road.

Happy New Year Everyone! I know it’s going to be a great one.

happy newjear Pictures, Images and Photos

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Very Special Holiday Memory From Cat Grant

Today we have Ellora's Cave and Amber Allure author Cat Grant sharing a very special holiday memory. This one, I admit, brought tears to my eyes!

Holiday memories…

This Christmas will probably be a fairly quiet holiday for me. I’ll get a rotisserie chicken and some mashed potatoes from Whole Foods and cuddle up on the couch with my cat to watch the Doctor Who Christmas special, just like last year. I’ll probably get in some writing, too.

It’s a far cry from the busy, boisterous Christmases with my Dad’s big Italian family growing up. We always had our celebration at my aunt’s house out in the country, because we needed her huge dining room – there were usually at least fifty people, what with all the aunts and uncles and their kids.

So yeah, it was a crowd, but it was a loud, fun crowd, full of laughter and stuffing our faces. The food was out of this world! My dad’s two aunts – a couple of sweet little ninety-something ladies – did most of the cooking. All old-world Italian, everything made from scratch. Ravioli with mushroom sauce. Polenta made with real whipping cream, so rich you could only eat a few bites – but they were the BEST few bites you’d ever eat! Homemade focaccia. Antipasto. And that was just the first course!

Then there was turkey. Roast. Ham. (Did I mention there were fifty of us? And one of my uncles had six kids – four of them boys!) Mashed potatoes. Candied yams. Huge bowls of green salad. And pie for dessert – pumpkin and pecan. Homemade cream puffs. Coffee and Grand Marnier for the adults.

By this time we were all clutching our tummies and rolling ourselves into the living room to watch the end of the football game. Then my mom, my sister and I went into the kitchen to help clean up – and make sure we got our share of the leftovers to bring home. Suffice it to say, Mom didn’t have to cook for a few more days!

But it wasn’t just the food that made the day so special. It was the warmth, the laughter, the joy of getting to see people I only got to see once or twice a year. My aunt has since passed on, but her daughter carries on the tradition at her house. Sadly, I live too far away to make the trip, but it’s these wonderful memories that will keep me warm and happy this year – and for many years to come.

Find out more about Cat's sexy books here

Friday, December 24, 2010

Winner Announcement!

The winner of an ebook from Anne Rainey is...Cathy M. Wheee! Well done, hon! Please email Anne at:

The winners of an ebook from Madison are...Wendy and Cecil. Yay you two! Congrats! Could you email Madison at:

The winner of a $5 Starbucks voucher from Tess is...Susan! Congrats, love! Could you email Tess at:

The winner of any ebook from any of Nat's names is...Susan again! Yeee har! Well done! Could you email Nat with your choice at:

The winner of a $5 Starbucks voucher and a set of EC playing cards from Regina is... Brindle Chase! Yippee! Congrats! Could you email Regina at:

Well done everyone!

T'was the Night Before Christmas...

Christmas Memories

My oldest daughter has a knack of buying presents that everyone loves. All year she listens to what we’re saying, and come Christmastime we have presents that we’ve mentioned maybe months ago. Last Christmas she bought me some perfume, which made me cry because the previous year we’d been in a perfume shop and had fun spraying all the testers. We stunk when we left, but there was one perfume I loved. Couldn’t afford it because it was a posh brand—even the small bottle would have set me back some serious cash—and she bought it for me. A year later, I still have half a bottle because I don’t want it to run out. She has done it with a slow cooker (crock pot), hair straighteners (irons), and numerous other presents. So this year I’m wondering: What have I mentioned this year in passing? What on earth will she make me cry with tomorrow? She loves Christmas, and even though I don’t, by the time she gets here later, with her infectious behaviour, I’ll be at least halfway to being in the Christmas mood.

So, today, as always, I’ll cook the meats for dinner. We’re having turkey, honey-roast gammon (ham), and beef. Then this evening I’ll maybe drink some wine—I rarely drink alcohol so that will be interesting LOL—and tomorrow will be busy with all my family around us. I have five kids and a grandson, so you can imagine how packed my little house will be, and it’ll be noisy and fun, but then in the evening they will all leave apart from my little one, because my eldest and grandson live in their own house and my boys are going to their dad’s.

How will your Christmas go? What rituals, if any, do you have?

Other News

This week I have two free Christmas reads available. You can request the pdfs in comments on the blog they are on offer at. Caught Naked is available HERE, and it’s a m/m tale in my Sarah Masters name. Wanton and Wicked is available HERE by Natalie Dae. They are both 4K so won’t take long to read.

My Prize

My prize today is for a copy of my m/m novel, Scared, out today by Sarah Masters. You can read the blurb HERE.

Blog Award

This week Three Wicked Writers Plus Two were nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award. How marvellous! Evie Balos gave it to us, and in traditional VBA style, we’ll list some things about us:

Regina was once a champion chicken judger.
Regina hates to wear socks.
Regina is very superstitious.
Natalie hates hearing people eating crisps (chips) or apples.
Natalie believes in destiny, fate and karma.
Natalie was once a creative writing teacher for 10-11 year olds.
In real life, Tess is very shy.
Tess knows one hell of a lot about politics.
Anne once worked at a fancy hotel. She stocked the suite refrigerators. 11 floors pushing a cart that weighed an easy 100 pounds up and down each hall, going down to restock the cart, coming back up to stock more refrigerators. Horrible job, but she was in great shape! lol
Madison hates bread. She has never eaten a full sandwich in her life. It's not a carb thing, but a texture thing. Bread grosses her out.
Madison has lived in five different states in her childhood and neither of her parents were in the military.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Those Nontraditional Christmas Movies

Because I'm having computer problems, I'm going to keep the post simple today and show you my 4 favorite nontraditional Christmas movies. One thing you should know about me, I have a slightly off-center sense of humor. The sweet Christmas movies are great, I love to feel all warm and fuzzy just like the next person, but sometimes you don't want sweet, right?

Sometimes you want to watch Bruce Willis shoot up a high rise building, or Denise Leary tie up the nagging mother of the couple he's kidnapped.

Sometimes you even want to hear about Santa's screwed up brother and see a slightly dysfunctional family deal with one Christmas mishap after another.

If that's the case, then these four should be on the top of your list of must-watch movies!

So, what are some of your favorite odd-ball movies for the holidays? Tell me in a comment and you're entered to win one of my ebooks. :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My mind is on Christmas overload

It's true! My mind is on Christmas overload! I have so many thoughts going on, gifts to buy, food to get, meals to plan that I'm spacing out on a few things... Like my blog today! SO sorry I'm late! I will make it up to you.

The thing is, even though this time of season is crazy busy, I wouldn't have it any other way. I love running around like a chicken with my head cut off when its because I'm planning a special day. That's what this time is about right? Spending time with the family. Making it special. Making good meals to fill their stomachs and hearts. Buying gifts to put a smile on their faces.

Love it! This is my favorite time of year. It just makes me happy. Even when I'm fighting through mobs at the store to find the perfect gift, I'm smiling.

I know we're talking about memories this month and this isn't really a memory. It's kind of a free-for-all of everything going on in my head so why don't you do the same. Share something happy, a memory, your favorite thing about the season, your favorite dessert to cook for Christmas dinner. Anything. What makes Christmas special to you?

And because I'm late today and feel so bad, I'll randomly draw TWO winners from today's commenters who will win their choice of one of my ebooks. Click HERE for a list of my books!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Tree Wrangling and other Adventures

This week for Jingle Bell Rockin' I'll be giving away a $5 Starbucks gift card and a deck of Ellora's Cave playing cards. Please leave a comment for a chance to win. Natalie will announce all the winners on Friday!

Most of my Christmas memories involve crazy mishaps and often a Christmas Tree is part of the equation. I'll never forget the first Christmas tree my honey and I put up. We'd been married for several years before we broke down and did the whole tree-trimming thing. Our son was nine months old and we decided, like many brand new parents, to go crazy for Christmas. It was our first Christmas with the little guy and even though he'd have no memory of it, we were determined to do it up right.

We bought a live tree, did the whole prepping thing, soaked the end in a big bucket of water and I got all the decorations on it. I thought it was beautiful. Big. Yes, we overdid it in that arena too. Most of my friends will tell you that I overdo EVERYTHING. I double recipes when I don't need to. I buy two of everything at the grocery store. I've often wondered if there's a pill for that. Anyway, we bought a HUGE tree and I decorated to the max. Some ornaments were gifts from my mom but most I'd shopped for. Stuff for the perfect KID Christmas tree. So the tree is up. Lights are strung. Our little house looked lovely. At least I thought so.

One afternoon, I was sitting in my living room and Ben was crawling around in the mountains of laundry I was folding while I watched my favorite Soap. At one point, I took a break from my chore, picked up my little guy and held him on my knee while I got lost in the action on the tv. Suddenly, I hear a slight whishing sound and watched in stunned silence as the tree began to shift. It was such an odd moment. Kind of like slo-mo or something. I just sat there like a dumbass as the tree started to go down. I didn't move a muscle but said quietly...well, baby, there it goes.

The tree fell in a sweep of sound. Everything crashed and rolled. Water was freakin' EVERYWHERE along with pine needles, bark and various other crap. My walls were splashed, my carpet soaked. I managed to wrangle the tree back into place with lots of huffing and puffing, while fighting back my son who wanted to 'play'. What a freakin' mess! The damn tree was bigger than I was. By the time my honey got home, I was a frazzled basket case.

Years later, we went the artificial route with our trees. While both kids were still at home, I had one set up in the living room. It was my habit in those days to stay up late and read while the place was quiet. I loved that. One night, I sat at the kitchen table reading a Sandra Brown book. I don't remember the title of it but I was so lost in the story that when I looked up, I noted the time. Three AM. I decided to hit the sack, closed the book, turned off the light and staggered through the darkened house in search of my bed and in doing so, walked right into the Christmas tree. It was like being attacked by an eight foot monster. The tree fell on top of me, ornaments crashed to the floor and shattered loudly. Lights came on as everyone rushed from their rooms to see what the hell Mom had done NOW.

Yep. Christmas Trees and I have a history. Once they are up, I love them. Love looking at them and watching the lights shine on the ornaments. It's the putting them up and taking them down that turns into a nightmare. Years ago, my husband and son, realizing that I frazzle easily, adopted the tradition of taking pics of me as I decorate. My honey gets a particular kick out of taking shots of my ass and I'm arranging this or that. Oddly, my daughter and I were looking through photo albums some time ago. I needed to find a decent pic of myself for something or other and my daughter goes...Mom? Why is there nothing but pictures of your butt in here? Aw, what can I say? The men in my life live to torment me.

I decided long ago that I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas Trees. Think I'll start simply getting a nice poinsettia and call it a day!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Christmas Switchin'

Before I share this week’s Christmas memory, I’d like to share something else. As my Christmas gift to you, I wrote a Christmas story entitled Blame It On Mistletoe. It's over at Got Romance Reviews, and all you have to do to receive your FREE copy is to stop by GRR and leave a comment on the blog along with your email address or simply email the ladies at GRR and ask for a copy. Hope you enjoy the story of Caleb and Samantha. Here’s the link:

Today I’m giving away another $5 gift certificate to Starbucks. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here on this post. You have until Friday morning when Natalie Dae announces the week’s winners to do so. Good luck.

The Christmas Switchin’

Now get your minds off of sex, people. LOL

By now you know I was raised on a farm. My daddy was a tobacco farmer. We had a garden and Granny did a lot of canning and freezing. Momma was never into any of those things. She worked outside the home so I spent right much time with Granny.

Like me, Granny was short. Unlike me, she was patient. Never said a swear word—although she had a habit of saying, “Ahhh Shawwwww…” –whatever that means. And I do recall Daddy saying a swear word or two in front of her occasionally and her quoting Bible verses to him. To which Daddy retaliated with a “And you think saying ‘ahhh shawww’ isn’t the same as swearing just because you didn’t say a four-letter word?” They argued about that off and on. I kind of think Daddy was right.

Anyway, I was nine that Christmas. I seemed to be full of mischief in those days, too. Couldn’t do a blessed thing right and was forever getting into trouble. (See there, I could have, and wanted to say ‘damn’, but said ‘blessed’ instead. So is that swearing or not? Same idea behind it. LOL) That particular Christmas we had a guest—my uncle, who wasn’t really an uncle but a family friend, and we called him uncle. His name was Snow. Yep, Snow. Don’t ask, ‘cause I sure as hell don’t know why his name was Snow—but it was. For all I know he may have had a brother named Sleet.

Granny asked Uncle Snow to go out and run up two chickens for Christmas Eve dinner. Now for those who don’t understand what I’m talking about, well, what Granny had just told him to do was go out and kill two chickens. I followed him—nothing better to do than watch a chicken getting killed, I guess. So I saw him snatch up a chicken and with the flick of his wrist, he wrung that chicken’s neck. WOW. Wringing chickens' necks had been done on our farm before, but somehow I’d never really paid attention—or maybe I was just at that age in which certain things fascinated me. Yeah right---MURDERING CHICKENS FASCINATED ME. Sighhhhhh

So he wrings the next chicken’s neck, and it was then I got this idea that the whole snap of his wrist, the way he twisted that chicken’s neck was something I’d like to try. Uncle Snow grabbed up the chickens and took them over to this big table and laid them out. He went back toward the house, and when he did, I put my plan into action. Have any of you ever tried to snatch up a chicken? They’re fast. But I finally did get one to fall into my chicken-murdering arms—after I’d about plucked its butt bald by grabbing at it, that is.

Now for the good stuff—and just think, I didn’t have horror movies to watch in those days so we can’t blame my blood lust on Nightmare on Elm Street or Chainsaw Massacre or Halloween No. 552. I guess I was just BORN with it.

The chicken is squirming and squawking. I would, too. I’m trying to hold its head still and wrap my grubby little hand around its neck. It’s not cooperating at all. But I finally did get a good hold on it, and then I just hauled off and shook it! Shook it hard. Swung it around some. Over my head. To my side. Back and forth. Up and down. (I never did get that wrist action down right.)

The chicken got quiet.

And then it hit me.

I’d killed a chicken.

I dropped the chicken and backed away.

All of a sudden it came to me that Granny was NOT going to be happy. How could I have done such a thing? That chicken had never done a thing to me. I could hear Bible verses in my head. My nine-year-old mind started working. And it was working in the direction of how to get rid of the evidence of my screw up.

And then the chicken moved.

Yep, got up and started walking around—well, sort of. It was walking kind of sideways. Like Uncle Snow when he’d had a little too much to drink. And its head flitted from side to side. Chickens walk funny anyway, but as chicken-walking goes—this one had the market cornered. Oh yeah, I’d really screwed up. There was going to be NO HIDING the evidence. I couldn’t kill it again—that didn’t work out so well the first time. In all honesty? I didn’t want to touch it again. That’s when the tears began.

And when Uncle Snow returned.

Immediately, he grasped the situation, shook his head. “Miss Nellie is going to be mad.” Nellie was my granny’s name—good ole Southern name—great for Grannys but not so much for femme fatales, I guess—which Granny wasn’t, of course.

For a brief moment I thought he was going to take pity on me and not tell. I was wrong. He started hollering for Granny. “Miss Nellie! Miss Nellie! Come see what your Tessy has done!”

Okay, you’re probably thinking “What’s the big damn deal? So you killed another chicken—the more the merrier, right?” Wrong. You only have so many chickens. You only kill what you need. Waste not want not and all of that stuff—ya know? It was a sin to waste anything according to Granny. And while the chicken would be eaten, it wasn’t needed at that time. Two was enough. Plus, chickens were needed for laying eggs, too. And that in itself presented another problem. grubby little hands had managed to select Granny’s BEST laying hen.

Granny had great big blue eyes. She could look at you in such a way that you just knew you were going straight to Hell. To this day, I count killing that chicken as one of my sins and figure St. Peter is going to talk to me about it one of these days.

Granny’s hands were tucked deep into her apron pockets when she told me to go cut her a switch. Yeah, you had to cut your own switch, and if you cut it too small, you’d be sent back to cut another one. While I was gone, Uncle Snow finished off the chicken. I walked back up just in time to see their heads come off. Another sight I’ll have to live with.

Granny switched my legs good. Thank God it was Christmas Eve, and I was wearing pants because it was cold. She switched me all the way to the house. I was sent to bed, and, of course fell soundly asleep. Daddy woke me at dinner time. Yep, I’d slept the entire day. Switchin’s will do that for you.

The table was dressed with the traditional red tablecloth for Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day we’d have the thick white one with another lacy one a couple of shades of white different laid over it—and we’d have ham instead of chicken. The dining room had several candles lit and two big red poinsettias were sitting on the buffet. Granny had a real green thumb and those poinsettias would stay beautiful for months to come as she knew just where to put them each day for the best light.

So we’re seated at the table and Granny begins saying grace.

“Lord we have Tessy to thank for the unusual bounty of our table this night. By her hand we have three chickens instead of the two we needed. We ask that you forgive her, Lord, for she is only a child and curious to the ways of this world. But I have hope she’ll learn and follow your teachings, Father…” and the prayer went on and on and on—and I’m paraphrasing a bit as I don't quite remember it verbatim. But it was THE longest prayer I’ve ever heard—including those from the good reverend on Sunday mornings at church—and the only one in which I was SINGLED OUT as a sinner and needing particular forgiveness.

Momma filled my plate with a serving of everything and set it in front of me. I took my fork and pushed the chicken way to the side. I didn’t want any chicken. Which, of course, stuck me with vegetables only—punishment enough if you ask me.

When it was time for dessert, I was all smiles. Coconut cake was one of my favorites, and I was ready for it after having eaten pretty much nothing but mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and cabbage. punishment was not going to end. No dessert unless you clean your plate. It was the rule at our table. Momma reminded me of the rule as everyone else was being served cake—including my little sister who stuck her tongue out at me. So I scooped up more potatoes, more corn, more cabbage and swallowed them down—moving the remaining bits around on the plate so it didn’t look like there was much left.

But there was that big slice of chicken just sitting there waiting for me. It could have been coconut cake with chocolate between the layers drizzled with chocolate syrup waiting on me, and I could not have eaten that chicken. Not that night, anyway. Momma reminded me to clean my plate once more, and Granny nodded in agreement. Sissy stuck her tongue out at me again. Uncle Snow, who had yet to touch his cake, went back for seconds on mashed potatoes and gravy AND CHICKEN.

Why the hell didn’t he tell me he wanted more? He could have had mine?

Daddy set down his cup of coffee and said, “Give her some damn cake.”

Uh oh. Granny started spouting off Bible verses. Momma started shaking her finger in Daddy’s face, and Uncle Snow grabbed up his plates and made a hasty exit into the living room. Sissy stuck her tongue out at me. It went on for a while. Got really loud, too. Granny finally covered her face with her hands, and I started to feel really bad. It was all my fault. I started to cry. Momma cut me a piece of cake and set it in front of me, sticking the fork in my hand, and went back to arguing with Daddy. I stopped crying and started eating. Momma finally left the table.

A couple of minutes later, Daddy got up and patted me on the head. “Is the cake good, honey?”

I smiled up at him and nodded.

He said, “Glad you like it, honey. Even if I am sleeping with the dogs tonight.”

He followed Momma’s trail right up the stairs. There would be more shouting—and then quiet. LOL Daddy rarely went up against Momma. He told me once when I was a grown woman that he fell in love with Momma’s red hair the first time he saw her, and he knew that it was going to be a problem from the start. Red heads being hot tempered and all. But he said that hot temper also had its advantages. LOL He was very sad when they divorced after 26 years. Daddy really did love her.

Like I said, he rarely went up against her, but sometimes he did and it was usually for one of us kids. Daddy was kind of liberal minded and very laid back. He didn’t see the harm in giving in and thought a lot of rules were made to be broken. So once Daddy left the table I went back to eating my cake and Sissy stuck out her tongue at me. Granny smacked her hand. And that made me laugh. And that made Granny laugh. And Sissy cried.

What’s the moral of this story?

Don’t cross the road to kill a chicken.

But mainly...

Families aren’t always Hallmark-greeting-card perfect. Memories aren’t always sweet and sappy. But if you look hard enough, deep enough, you’ll see the love.

Share your Christmas memories with us!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Guest Author: Tory Richards

Today we have Tory Richards joining us. She's sharing a delicious recipe and a couple of seriously yummy books! A romantic suspense and an erotic romance, both of which just happen to be my favorite genres! 

I’m so pleased to be here today! I discovered this fantastic website quite by accident and kind of, ah, invited myself over.

The cold weather we’ve been getting here in Florida lately made me think of a chowder I created many years ago. For some reason I only make It during the winter months, and a requirement is cold weather. There are some meals you just can’t enjoy as much if you don’t make them while taking the weather into account. Don’t you agree?

The chowder is creamy, hearty and perfect for that chilly night, whether you live here or somewhere up north where it gets really cold. I thought I’d share it with you. And if you make it I’d love to hear back from you. You really can’t mess this up.

Pork Chop Chowder-
(Works best cooked in a crock pot)
4 boneless pork cutlets – cut up in squares
1 large onion – peeled and chopped up
4 celery stalks with the leafy part – chopped up (wash them first)
5 medium potatoes – peeled and cut into squares (see above)
2 cans cream of corn
1 can sweet corn - drained
2 cups milk (may need more or less)
Salt and pepper – to taste
¼ cup Butter
1 tsp. Paprika

Sauté pork, onion and celery in a pan
Dump into a crock pot when done
Add potatoes, both cans cream corn, corn, milk, butter and paprika

Cook on low for a couple hours, stirring once in awhile. May add more milk if needed. Goes good with cornbread or biscuits.

Yum! I think I’ll go make some now. That will give me the excuse to wrap up in a blanket on the couch in front of the fire, enjoy a hot bowl while nose deep in some sexy romance. And speaking of romance, I happen to be a writer, with several novels to my name. My most recent releases were in October of this year. All the Right Moves with The Wild Rose Press, and Breathless Surrender with Ellora’s Cave. That one is a Quickie. So you see, you have a choice. If you want suspense romance, then you might be interested in checking out All the Right Moves, and you can get that one in ebook or print. If you want erotic romance, well, you guessed it. Breathless Surrender! Below are brief blurbs.

All the Right Moves
Annie McCall finds a patient dead in her office, and now she's on the run for her life.

Detective Marshall Thomas is willing to break the rules to protect the beautiful doctor, but who will protect her from him? It isn't long before the only danger Annie's facing is the sizzling heat between the sheets.

Breathless Surrender
Months of running into her sexy new neighbor takes a toll on Alexis' libido. There's interest in his smoky gaze every time they meet, but he seems reluctant to ask her out. And other than a slight nod, and a polite hello, that's all they share. About to take matters into her own hands, she finds herself thrown into a situation that could end her life.

With nothing but erotic fantasies of Alexis to warm his bed at night, Reid knows he has to stay away from her until his undercover assignment is over. But when a coldblooded initiation to prove he's trustworthy forces him to involve her, there's nothing to keep him from claiming her.

Tory Richards -
The Wild Rose Press - Ellora’s Cave

I guess I’ll be on my way now. Thank you for letting me visit here today, it’s been fun. I wish you all a happy holiday season!