Greeting fellow earthlings! And aliens, because who's to say. I recently watched Tomorrow War with Chris Pratt. Yep, aliens. Anyway, we're hosting a Christmas Open House to spend time and holiday spirit with friends. Oh yes, and show off Pete's displays. It's only a short time until Christmas. The eve of the day we hope to have my son and family come up, church service, and some time sitting around the fire. Christmas morning we have a breakfast open house for friends and neighbors. Pete mans the omelet bar. I may enjoy a mimosa. This is what the holiday is about. Celebrating the Lord's birthday with friends and family.
Today's guest and I teasingly call each other cousin. We're both Stone, get it? And I wouldn't mind having a lady with such a lovely smile in the family. So, Sadira, stop blushing and tell us who you are other than your bio?
I’m an ex-expat, having lived in Germany for a total of 30 years. I’m a new Las Vegan, slowly finding my way in my desert home. I’m a performer—acting, music, dance, I love the rush of being on stage. Lately I get my fix by performing with my belly dance group. I’m an avid home chef who collects more recipes than she could possibly ever cook. I’m a baby musician who loves to play along with the big kids—mostly on ukulele, sometimes guitar. I’m a mom of one, wife of the best dude, and soon-to-be grandmother! Oh, let’s not forget my most important job: gobbler of all the steamy romance books. As long as they’re not too dark and angsty, gimme!
I've never been to Vegas. We're planning on a stop during one of our camping adventures. Being in a new place can be an adjustment. Who is your network or support system?
My writing posse from the former Olympia, Washington RWA are the best! I also belong to several online writing communities who provide support, critique, and a kick in the butt when I need it.
Inspiration comes from so many places especially other books and authors. Do you have someone who sparked your creativeness?
I could never pinpoint just one! Like so many authors, I started down the path to publication when I read a book and realized I could do just as well. So I did! Turns out, it’s not quite as easy as I thought, of course. Some favorite romance authors are Sonali Dev, Tessa Dare, Lucy Score, Claire Kingsley, Sarah MacLean, Alyssa Cole, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Talia Hibbert…
LOL! I did the same thing. Read a string of books that were let's say sub-par. "I can do that better." Ah, nope. Do you have any fun or outrageous talent?
I can belly dance with a sword balanced on my head. And none of those Cheater McCheat-Pants padded turbans, thank you very much!
What? You woke up one day and said, "Yeah, I think my life is to safe?" We'll chat more on this later. Tell us about your neighborhood? Are there any places you frequent? What makes them special?
We moved to Las Vegas a few months ago and bought a house in a 55+ community, something I thought I’d never do. We’re still unpacking and getting our bearings. There’s a lovely gym and pool, a community center where I can take art classes, a pretty little library, and an armada of bunnies and quail. Haven’t seen a coyote yet, but I have seen a few roadrunners. Meep meep! The women in our Zumba class are a hoot—especially 90-year-old Ida, who still shakes it like a diva. At the tender age of fifty-nine, it’s kind of fun to be the youngster among the seniors.
Vegas is much greener than I expected, at least in the built-up areas. I love our backyard view of the mountains, and the 70-degree November weather is a delight. My favorite place so far is the public library—the closest one is huge with an auditorium, an art gallery, and beautiful public spaces. And the Smith Center downtown offers wonderful shows. A few weeks back we saw the Branford Marsalis Quartet—amazing jazz show!
It sounds so wonderful. Please give our regards to Ida and tell her to keep shaking that thing. Years ago, there was a commercial that talked about a “Kodak Moment.” It’s a moment in time you catch in a picture. One you never want to forget. What is yours?
For seventeen years I lived in the lovely German city of Würzburg on the Main River. The Baroque Residenz palace is a UNESCO world heritage site, and I’d drive past at least weekly, always muttering to myself, “Can’t believe I actually live here.” My Kodak moment would be my daughter and I perched on the fountain out front, under the watchful eye of Frankonia, patron of the area. Such a beautiful place! (*see photo below*)
If you could time travel, where would you go and when? Why?
I’ve always been fascinated by the 1920s, a time of tremendous social change and increased freedom for women. I’m a jazz baby at heart and would love to dance away the night in a swanky speakeasy.
I'd love to wear one of those shimmery shiny dresses and cute hate. When someone develops a time machine we'll make a day (and night) of it Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
Put me down for restaurants! Even in comfortable seats, long airplane flights are a drag—goodness knows I’ve done enough of those. That Frankfurt to San Francisco flight is a killer! But I’m a wannabe chef and hardcore foodie, so the chance to visit Las Vegas’s many fantastic restaurants would be a dream come true.
Yes! I knew I likes you. Everyone else is on the plane but ahh to enjoy fabulous food. We live in such a wonderful world. What’s the most amazing natural occurrence you’ve witnessed?
December 26, 1999, we were headed from our home in Bavaria to a week-long stay in a Gîte (vacation rental) in Alsace, France, and got caught up in Cyclone Lothar, the worst European windstorm of the 20th century. Tall pines snapped and toppled before our very eyes. The whole, heavily forested area was decimated. Thank the gods we were on the westbound side of the autobahn because the fatalities occurred on the eastbound side. We saw many crushed cars, and one in which the driver was beheaded by a falling tree that sheared the car’s roof clean off. Emergency workers had covered the body with a blanket, but the poor driver’s fate was clear enough. Chilling!
That is awesomely terrifying. Thank goodness you were safe. No matter what an author pens some sort of research has to happen. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I enjoy writing about all my woulda/coulda/shoulda alternate career paths—bookshop owner, bar owner, boutique owner, chef, food truck owner, art gallery owner, artist…I seem to have a small business fetish. So I end up doing lots of research on these career fields, as well as medical conditions, legal questions, and other details I want to get right. I’ve interviewed cops, firefighters, doctors, bartenders, graphic designers, a process server, and many more. When I tell people I’m working on a novel and want to portray their job correctly and respectfully, they’re always generous with their expertise.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Killing off a character is always tough, even if they die of natural causes. Family reconciliations make me cry too. But you know what they say: “No tears from the writer, no tears from the reader.” I like to take my readers along on a full-spectrum emotional journey, and that means tackling the hard stuff.
I have several scenes that make me cry in various novels. In one of my WIPs, a main character gets gone. It's tough. That said, Sadira, will you leave a little peek at your book and where to find out more about it and you? Thank you so much for stopping by, Cuz.
Oh, my! Sadira shared a picture of The Baroque Residenz palace. A UNESCO world heritage site. It's so gorgeous. What do you think?
Bartender River Lundqvist has a damn good reason for hating Christmas. Bangers Tavern is the perfect place to lay low over the holidays—until Charlie walks in. His first encounter with the saucy server nine years ago was utter humiliation. Her reappearance stirs up powerful desires and hopes for a new start. But the timing is all wrong.
Back in Tacoma to care for her estranged dad over the holidays, freelance web designer Charlie Khoury braces herself for the suckiest Christmas ever. A temporary job at Bangers Tavern gives her a chance to escape Dad’s criticism and blow off some steam. But why does the hunky bartender seem to hate her?
A pretend girlfriend is just what River needs to keep his family off his back—until a kiss under the mistletoe flares hot enough to melt the North Pole. When greedy developers threaten Bangers Tavern, River and Charlie must team up to save it. Their sizzling chemistry feels like the real thing—but everyone knows rebound relationships don’t last.
Come to Bangers Tavern for an enemies-to-lovers tale of reconciliation, found family, holiday cocktails, and the steamiest Christmas miracle ever.
Christmas Rekindled delivers a guaranteed HEA, no cliffhangers, and is on sale for just $2.99 through 12/27, so treat yourself today!
Universal book link: https://books2read.com/b/3JjPxP
Embedded: Click to get your copy of Christmas Rekindled.
Once again, author Sadira Stone has not failed her fans with this colorful setting, which she populated with unique characters and even more unique events designed to save the bar. [Gus the Grump in his SpongeBob pajama shirt to celebrate PJ Nite was a particularly fun touch.] As well, her skill for nicely subtle sexual tension, slowly building to a mind-blowing crescendo is well done. For fans of well-drawn plot lines with steamy romance, terrific characters and snappy dialogue, this is the book for you.
On a scale of 1-5, Christmas Rekindled earns a 7.
Kat Henry Doran, Wild Women Reviews
Visit Sadira on All the Socials!
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Sadira-Stone/e/B07KWK5FBX
Author newsletter: https://eepurl.com/dKLMP2
I’d love to hear from you! Please visit me on all the socials.
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Before we get started I want to give a Birthday shout out to my husband Pete. He is my greatest supporter and cheerleader. Fun facts about Pete.
He was born on St. Nicholas Day (I totally believe this is why he so into decorating).
The Mr. is one smart cookie. He was an honor student. To this day he knows his history, science and politics.
He is a life member of the local fire department and after many years of service in fire fighting, he continues teaching prevention in the local schools and daycares. Known throughout the county as "Fireman Pete."
Pete is deeply involved in church ministry. Each summer he joins a group to go and either build or rehabilitate homes in West Virginia. This year for Thanksgiving he help raise money and then distributed over 80 baskets to families in need so they could enjoy the holiday too.
TWF my love. I'm proud to be your other half.
My guest today is the lovely Susan Payne who is rocking it in the author world. So, without further ado please welcome her to the fire. Susan, I can't believe what you are up to since our last visit. Can you tell us all the news?
I’m excited about my Midwest Mail Order Bride series. I can’t believe how quickly these were published. And all four are being released practically together. This is a rarity as far as I know. The first one, Montana Lineman, was one of the first stories I put down on paper. It began as omniscient and now is POV to the main characters. The second, The Bride Wagon, came to me after reading about mail order brides simply heading west and hoping things went well. Sort of like the orphan trains sent out from New York. I always have a basic trope and then put a twist to it to keep it interesting.
Congratulations! I sounds wonderful and like a lot of work. But there's so much more to an author. Tell me, who are you other than your bio?
I have always considered myself a chameleon. I’m not usually hot nor cold. Need company or yearn to be alone. Watch TV or want to read/write. I have always worn more than one hat. Done several full-time jobs while never being employed. Many mothers and wives do the same everyday of their lives. We are daughters and wives and mothers – and if we are lucky, get to do a little of what we want.
How right you are. With all that, I do hope you get to have some fun though for yourself.
My hobby is collecting – furniture and “pretties” which are items that catch my fancy like shiny-glittery things. Christmas is my favorite time of year since it is considered part of the season to put out glam type wreaths and fancy candles. Even our kitchen towels can be exotic with elves or snow-covered villages.
I adore shiny things as well. And I believe you and my dearly beloved would concur on all things Christmas. An author can spend a lot of time alone. But we are social creatures. Who are your go-to people.
My daughters are my support team although a couple of them feel uncomfortable reading my work. I start out safe enough usually. My heroines are notoriously GP and then my heroes enter the story and it becomes R. I cannot control my heroes – not in my stories and not in real life. So, I have heard that some of my children hum through parts of my stories – la-la-la-la, to keep from being mortified by my character’s actions.
LOL! I can imagine them singing while plugging their ears. Children, even grown up, have a hard time thinking of their parents as a vital sexual human being as well as a mom. Are their any writers you think influenced you?
I can’t say any one author is an inspiration. I read everything that came into my hands. I found them at work, at school, and abandoned by my much older uncle. Books I should not have been reading and books I should not have understood. I never set down to write a book let alone have multiple publishers and 21 books (27 stories) in print in such a short time. I don’t think I deserve it, but I’m not going to stop. I’m finally getting everyone out of my head and down on paper – or at least into an eBook.
Of course, you deserve it. I'm sure many authors would agree writing is hard work, then the editing and marketing. Besides work though there has to be fun. What is something enjoyable?
I realized I have a lot of fun – mostly with my family. My husband says he loves to sit back and listen to me and my children talk over the dinner table. He says there is so much laughter it makes him jealous he isn’t part of it. He could be, of course, only he has trouble keeping up with all of us. We are talking on several levels to multiple people at a time. Keeping the conversation going is what we all do well.
When my sister and I start yacking around my husband, he's the same. I say often you've got to keep up honey. What's your neighborhood like?
I lived in a place no longer than six months once I was married. Then we built a home and stayed almost five years – then we built a bigger home and remained there to this day. That was 43 years ago. We are in a field of our own – 26 acres – and it is where my kids call home. I don’t think I’ll ever leave it – not willingly. The kids say I can’t move because all the pets are buried in the back yard…not sure where I’m to be placed. Probably next to the Guinea pigs.
Sounds wonderful! I'd stay there too. In your opinion what should be taught in schools that often is neglected?
Education has always fascinated me – probably because I was undiagnosed dyslexic. I could read and understand anything – spelling, not so much. It affected my speech since I picture words in my head as I say them. Kind of like reading a teleprompter. I find I do that with some of my stories, too. Neat, but I depend on editors and spell-check since I’m not to be trusted. I always thought students should be taught to read a driving map and be able to balance a checkbook. The new apps have taken away that need so now I think they need to be taught common sense.
We do depend on our electronics. I can't even remember phone numbers. There was a time I could rattle of almost everyone's number that I knew. What song would you want to hear each time you entered a room?
The song I’d like to hear every time I walk into a room would be Sugar by the Archies. You know, real up-beat…”Sugar, hey, Honey, Honey…You are my candy girl and you got me wanting you….” Always makes me smile – and, yes, I have it on record that my hubby plays for me.
Uh oh, I have an earworm now. What was your first job?
My first job was babysitting for 3 kids. I walked to their house and fed them breakfast, lunch and watched them play. They were all school age (I was 12) and I loved that they had the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. I love those and my mother couldn’t afford more than a year of them. So, I cleaned their house completely – I also cleaned my mother’s since she worked outside the home – and read the rest of the day. I was only filling in for an older sitter but they “paid” me for cleaning by buying me the most expensive blouse I ever owned. I was happy getting to read the Reader’s Digest.
There may still be some Reader's Digest books somewhere in my house. What is your worst chore to do in the house?
I love all household chores – or, at least, used to. I would get up, dress, make the bed and then do the same for 5 kids, picking up the laundry from their rooms and baths. Take it downstairs with me to wash clothes while I fed kids then cleaned up kitchen and got out dinner to prep. I vacuumed and dusted 2000 sq ft everyday. I would do upstairs one day and the downstairs the next. Basement rooms were done weekly. Cleaned half-bath daily. Made lunch for kids at home and was free to read the afternoon away while laundry finished and dinner cooked to be on the table at 6 pm every night. Help with homework (if I wasn’t taking kids to anything), watch TV with family kibitzing the whole time. Put kids to bed and then watch more TV with hubby adding in points of view etc. till 11 pm. Then to bed. Yes, I was certifiable, but I have learned my lesson and often leave my bed unmade (Gasp!). Monthly I would wash every window, polish the wood doors and baseboards, appliances and garage. Yup, did I mention certifiable? And read over 50 books a month.
I'm speechless😵 so lets move on. What advice would you give others?
If I had anything to do over again it would be to stay with my writing when I first thought to publish a book in the early 90s. I was old then, but sooo much older when I finally got the gumption to put words to paper, about 2016 and didn’t submit to publishers until late 2019. I’m proof you don’t have to be ahead of the crowd – you can run along with them right down the middle. If you have extra words that need to be free – let them out. Even if its only for your own enjoyment. Let the words and ideas flow.
Susan thank you so much for spending time at the fire with us. Before you leave and you share a bit about your books and where to find them and you?
The Bride Wagon
Released 11/30/2021 by Magnolia Blossom Publishing
Montana Lineman: Vince wanted a family, a friend and a lover. Daisy desired the same. Could the two young people make a lasting marriage when neither knew how to be what the other needed? One knew what a family should be, the other only thought he knew. Could Vince save his marriage after his disastrous mistakes in the beginning? And would Daisy find peace with her choice?
The Bride Wagon: Can a marriage begun in distrust and fear last long enough for desire and love to eliminate the differences between them? Lily had travelled more than halfway across the continent for safety only to find herself faced with a choice worse than death. Was she strong enough to deny her love and face the future alone or confess and take the help her husband can offer her.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09MR8W5HF eBook only
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09MSH5F2Z eBook only
Happy December! What an action packed time is is for so many people. Today we're celebrating my DH, Peter's birthday with friends. His birthday is actually December 6th which is St. Nicholas Day. It must be where he gets his love of all things Christmas. We'll be going out to dinner tonight at a local restaurant with friends and then off to the Christmas Light Show at Skyland's Ballpark. All of us will pile in the pickup including Hali. I'll have a thermos of hot chocolate, some warm blankets and bells to ring as we drive around the field. Here's the link for what I'm talking about skylandsstadium.com/lightshow But before all that happens I've got a sit down with today's lovely guest and I can't wait for you to meet her. So the fire is lit, the cups are filled and we want you to be part of the conversation.
Katy, thank you for joining me at the fire today. Here's a cuppa for you. How about we start with who you are.
I am a wife, mom, author, youth group leader, Team Lead of the Account Administration department where I work (think endless spreadsheets), and Napper Extraordinaire. My husband is quite impressed with my ability to instantly snooze whenever I’m not otherwise occupied—if the car ride is over ten minutes, you can expect I’ll be taking advantage of some shut-eye. Unless I’m driving, of course! When I’m not writing, working, or sleeping, I typically find a trail to walk or a yummy recipe to bake.
Lucky you, I am definitely not a napper unless I'm sick. I'll feel tired kick back to "rest my eyes" as my mother used to say and then bam! I'm back up. Writing can be a lone ranger kind of thing. Who do you surround yourself with when you need support?
My mom, sister and husband are my biggest supporters. They’ve each read all my books, even though my husband is typically not a big reader. My mom, sister, and even my brother often read my manuscripts in advance to offer advice, encouragement, and to help me finetune that elusive perfect book blurb. One of my special talents (other than the nap thing) is that I can type over 100 words per minute. It comes in handy during my day job and my writing stints, so it’s a useful talent to have!
Seriously! 100 wpm! Stand back everyone the keyboard is on fire. I'm glad your family is so supportive. What do you like to do when your not wearying out your laptop?
I love to travel with my family, and I recently took a road trip from Wisconsin to South Dakota with my husband and our two sons. We saw all sorts of parks and landmarks along the way. One day, we also drove out to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, which was pretty spectacular. Spending time with my family is one of my favorite things. My boys are 13 and 10, so it won’t be long before they don’t want to spend that much time with Mom and Dad (sniff sniff).
It's amazing how quickly they grow. My grands are shooting up and I have no idea how my son got so old. After all, like Jack Benny, I'm only 39. (watch out for the lightening strike). Katy, wear do you hang your hat? What's your neighborhood like?
I live in a suburb of Milwaukee, in a quiet subdivision not far from the city life, so it’s the best of both worlds. A Crumbl Cookie shop recently opened in the town square, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been there at least a half dozen times already. Talk about a guilty pleasure! Maybe my next book should feature a bakery owner so I can write off these cookie purchases as a business expense—market research, am I right?
I like how you think. I'd rather have a cookie than cake or pie. Let's have some fun.
If they made a movie about your life, what would the title be, and who would play you?
Movie title = Why Did I Come In Here Again? Actress = Claire Danes
Favorite childhood book?
Probably The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Such a touching and timeless story.
Other than that 100 wpm thing, what weird talent do you have?
I have an uncanny ability to forget about laundry mid-load. Without fail, I put a load of laundry in the wash and hours later (sometimes more, usually late at night), I remember I have to change it to the dryer. Good thing my husband has a better memory than me, as he’s often the one to change the load I started!
If you could eat anything in the world right now, what would it be?
Hot. Fudge. Always and forever.
Worst household chore?
Scrubbing the bathtub. Also, dusting because two seconds later, everything is dusty again!
Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
I love eating out, so definitely free food! Free travel would rock too, but I still couldn’t afford the food and lodging for most international trips, so I’ll stick with my free meals 😊 How do I make this happen please?
Do you play board games? What games do you like?
I LOVE me some board games! Primarily logic or word games, like Code Names, Scrabble, Taboo, and Blokus.
We'll have to put together a game night next time I'm in Wisconsin. I have an aunt in Madison. You'll have to teach me Blokus thought. Now I know it's a busy time but before you leave us can you share a bit about your newest book and where we can find you?
Katy shares a gorgeous picture of Devil's Tower from her trip. Anyone else keep thinking Close Encounters Of The Third Kind?
Wrong Turn Christmas
Can a Christmas in crisis be saved by one wrong turn?
A peek inside
April is desperate to eliminate her dad’s cancer bills so her family can enjoy the holidays. But, on her way to get legal assistance, she ends up at the wrong house. There, she finds a warm and caring soul… but a boyfriend won’t solve her family’s financial issues.
Jake is surprised to find a beautiful woman on his doorstep asking for help. It’s a case of mistaken identity, but after spending just a little time with April, he knows they are perfect for each other—even if she does have bad taste in football teams. Except April is facing an uphill battle, and he believes he has nothing of real value to offer. Or does he?
One wrong turn might just end up turning a Christmas crisis into a Christmas miracle.
Get your copy today at
And to find out more about Katy like and follow here
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Katy-Eeten/e/B0796L1CVK
Post Thanksgiving sluggishness set in? How about the Christmas shopping fever? Well whether you are near or far do I have the place for you. This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with the owner of one of the "Treasures in my Backyard". I've mentioned Broad Street Books before. This amazing shop in downtown Branchville NJ is a must for you to visit if you're in the area. Even if you have to drive a bit, I promise it's worth the time. Not only a brick and mortar (literally) this successful entrepreneur and her family do a thriving on-line business. I'm so excited for you to meet today's guest I'm about to burst. Before that happens, please help me welcome Sue-Ni.
Sue-Ni this is an amazing building. Can you tell us a bit about its history?
When we purchased the building it was a Lawyer's office. But in 1904 it was originally The First National Bank of Branchville. Once it was robbed and they called it the Jesse James bank even though it wasn't the infamous criminal. We bought and opened the book store in 2012 and will celebrate our ten-year anniversary of opening on November 9, 2022.
Any other insights into it?
There is the mystery of how they removed the vault from the basement. It had to come out in one piece and none of the doors or windows are big enough. Across the street, in the newer bank, you can see the inner workings of the lock system that was preserved. And at one time the building was a bomb shelter. Also, the store is only the tip of the iceberg. We have 3 buildings holding inventory. So if it's not on the shelves you see, talk to us or email us. We may have or are able to obtain a copy of that special book for you.
Are you a Branchville native?
No, I'm the child of wonderful parents. My mom is a deaf Taiwanese immigrant and my Dad is USAF (met on Taiwan while serving). They settled in Florida. I grew up in humble circumstances. We moved to Branchville to start our family. My husband and I have three sons.
Are they book people?
If you noticed the young man at the front desk when you came in, that is Cory , our employee. He grew up with my youngest son Oak. They are book people at least now.
How do you mean?
My youngest took a while to grow into it. It was a matter of finding his niche in the reading world.
Hmm, his niche?
Many young people come through the doors here. So many think they don't like to read. You have to find what interests you. All books have value. For instance here. These are classic works done as graphic novels.
Ownership of books is important for a child. Graphic books are a mix of reading and art and can give them an opening into a lifelong love.
It's a great way to think of it. Have you read Shakespeare?
I read all of Shakespeare the summer before starting 8th grade while visiting my grandparents in Taiwan. They were the only English titles books my grandparents owned. I believe they shaped me into the person I am today with a love and appreciation of many genre's including poetry.
Other than family, is there a person or book that made a difference in your life?
Both. In grade school, Ms. Dorothy Parson's placed a copy of Carolyn Keene's, The Secret of the Old Clock in my hands. It was the first of the Nancy Drew books. BTW, there is not an actual Carolyn Keen. A ghost writer for The Stratemeyer Syndicate wrote it
What are you reading now?
I usually have several going. Mostly on growth, mindset, and the art of persuasion. I'm reading Isaac Asimov, Margaret Atwood, and Nabokov's Butterfly: And Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books.
A little light reading, lol. Do you remember the first book you owned?
The first book I purchased with my own money as a teenager. I think it was a Sidney Sheldon book. One of my friends has many of my books now.
There's a saying curiosity killed the cat and satisfaction brought him back. I'm a naturally curious person. What is the most valuable book you've sold?
The final biography published about Babe Ruth three weeks before he died is the most valuable recent book that we have sold. The bonus was the book was flat signed by Babe Ruth too! Baseball memorabilia is quite valuable.
Have there been any times throughout your time at the bookstore someone has touched you or said something that you carry with you always?
Yes, when you own a place like this so many come through the door. Each person has a story in themselves. In particular, there was a Catholic sister whose family was unhappy with her decision to join the church. She told me the peace of store was like a sanctuary to her. We also have many books on self-care, coping, overcoming, spiritual. Often I guide the person to exactly what they need. Books create a vital human connection. They lead us forward with inspiration and aspiration.
Other than books, what do you enjoy?
Travel and camping. My husband and I enjoy being together with others and having honest and open conversations while being respectful and listening to others, realizing the value of their beliefs even if they differ from ours. Everyone's walk and story come from a different life experience.
Let's chat a bit about Branchville. Can you tell us about your involvement in the community?
For any success, a small business has to be involved. We are members of Branchville Art Walks, Branchville Redevelopment Committee, Friends of the Branchville Rotary, and supporters for the up-and-coming Holiday Date Night. Additionally we donate/provide the electricity for our Branchville Christmas tree to maintain the holiday tradition.
Oh, I'm a romance author tell me about Holiday Date Night.
It's not just for couples but for anyone you love. On Friday, December 3rd the town tree lighting is happening. Our Branchville businesses are coordinating a “Holiday date night” from 4-7pm with the tree lighting at 6pm including carolers from the Branchville United Methodist Church. We invite everyone to come and take a stroll in our family-friendly borough. Maybe do a little local shopping, have a delicious meal, savor a drink, make a charitable donation, discover a new local business along with the festive spirit.
What a wonderful idea! It's the kind of thing that makes Branchville a treasure. Another treasure many people forget to take advantage of is their local library. Is Broad Street Books involved with ours?
Definitely, we are. As lovers of books, we need to be part of pro-literacy. During certain library events for children, we provide gift certificates as well.
Sue-Ni, I appreciate you spending time with me today. It's pretty busy here. (A lady and her daughter not from the area just excused themselves asking about where to find a certain book). I'm going to let you get back to what you do best after one more question. Grab your soapbox and tell us what you would like to say to everyone about running a small business or books, or whatever is on your mind.
One of my favorite quotes was given to me by my son from a hip-hop song, "Work until idols become rivals". Also, find great mentors. Ask questions and don't be afraid. Don't waste time pretending when you don't understand something. Every day should be an education.
To find out more about Sue-Ni and Broad Street books head over to
Follow them on
A note from D. V.
Broad Street Books is also so supportive of local authors. From the beginning of my writing career and ongoing they have carried my books. I also frequent the shop and my most recent purchases were books on the history of Jazz for research on my upcoming release of Jazz House. The lady and daughter I mentioned above? Bought a copy of Rock House Grill I signed for her.
So, if you are looking for any of the following reach out. The store ships worldwide.
Art, Architecture, Photography, Painting/Drawing, Design, Fashion,
Children's Books, Young Adult, History, Religion, Philosophy, Mythology/Occult, Sports, Science, Chess, Music, Transportation (auto, trains, planes, and ships), Sociology, Psychology,
Plus many others.
Broad Street Books also carries a large selection of Classical and Jazz CDs.
How are you all doing? It's post turkey day here in the US. The Black Friday shopping madness is history. Need a few minutes of rest and relaxation? What says that more than a cozy fire, a warm beverage, and conversation. A book you say? That's true but stick your finger in the page and hang with us today for a few. My guest is eager to meet you and we may deal some cards and hang out. You in? Great, here we go...
Welcome Cherie. I'm so happy you are sharing my fire today. Let's pretend it's the two of us and tell me, who is the person behind the official bio?
Hi! And thanks for having me on your blog! I’m a wife and mother of four boys who are now amazing men, a subject matter excerpt for my day job, an avid reader, and a lover of nature. When the weather is nice, I like to be outside. I don’t care if it’s doing yard work, strolling through the arboretum, or wandering in and out of boutiques, as long as I’m enjoying the day. (Although, I’m sorry to say I’m not much of a camper. But I do have fond memories of camping with my aunt, uncle, and cousins when I was fourteen or fifteen-years-old.)
Oh, well we all can't be campers, but, we can all enjoy a toasty fire. Let's dig a little deeper into you and your life. Do you have a particular object like a piece of jewelry or a keepsake of some sort? Can you tell us what makes it special to you?
I believe that certain stones, herbs, and oils have calming properties. I have several bracelets and necklaces I love to wear, including amethyst (for inspiration and protection), lava stone (a grounding stone that gives strength and courage), and obsidian (shields against negative energy).
I have an aroma therapy infuser in my writing area I use for enhancing or calming and even at times inspiring me. What is your favorite mug?
I’m a proud Gryffindor, so it’s not surprise that my favorite mug is my Gryffindor mug. Although, what makes it so special is my son and his girlfriend gave it to me.
Hah, I'm a Hufflepuff. I've been tested. Do you have a favorite childhood book? Or writing that inspired you to become an author?
I have several. The first three to come to mind are Good Night Moon, Escape to Witch Mountain, and The Wizard of Oz.
If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?
If you ask me this in a year, it will probably change, but right now Brandy by Looking Glass.
Funny how life can change our song. What's your worst household chore?
Windows! No matter what I do, they end up streaked.
Ugh, I am continually searching for something to get the inside of my windshield clean. My trunk is filled with fails, so I get it. Let's ignore the streaks and tell me, would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
Unlimited international first-class tickets! I’d love to travel the world.
So far nobody wants to eat free. Writers are an adventurous bunch. Whether you are a camper or not board games have been around since the beginning of time. Do you play board games? What games do you like?
I would, but my family it’s big on them. But when my boys were little, we used to play all the time. Allowance and Monopoly were my favorite.
Oh, so sad. You come play with us, though I've never played Allowance. Let's change lanes. We all want to know about your writing. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I’m always researching the paranormal and witchcraft. I love to know the lore and then put a unique twist on it.
You have quite a few books, how do you select the names of your characters?
Each book is different. Sometimes, I name my characters after people I’ve met with interesting or pretty names. Other times, I’ll research names with specific meanings.
Reviews are a hot topic in the publishing world, do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I will read reviews, and I’m grateful for all reviews. The good ones I may share on my social media. Bad reviews I look at as a learning opportunity to see if there’s something I can do better next time. Or, if the person just didn’t like the book, I remind myself that not everyone is going to love every book they read.
As authors we invest so much of ourselves in the story and characters, what was your hardest scene to write?
This isn’t so much a scene, but lately I’ve been finding the middle of the book, just before the all is lost moment, the hardest to write.
Yes! Keeping up the momentum and tension is tricky. So many voices clamor for our hard earned cash. Can you share what the best money you ever spent as a writer was?
Over the years, I was able to attend several writing conferences in California and one in New York. It’s amazing to be able to spend several days with other writers and professionals in the field, and I came back energized and excited to dive into my WIP. (Those stick middles seem less daunting too!)
LOL, Cherie. Thank you for sharing my fire today. If you want, I grab a deck of cards and we can hang out. While I'm doing that, can you tell us where to find out about your latest book and where to find more about you?
Cherie shares one of her favorite places. An arboretum.
Merry Little Wishing Spritz.
Christmas Cookies series by The Wild Rose Press
Sweet Paranormal Romance
Can a cleverly cast spell save Cassie Moore’s home and job?
Modern-day witch Cassie Moore’s cozy life turns upside down when her friend foresees the wrecking ball that threatens to destroy Cassie’s home and workplace. But Cassie isn’t giving up without a fight. She casts a well-intended spell meant to save her apartment and her job. But magic is unpredictable, especially when her friend casts a little charm of her own that has Cassie lusting after the man she desperately wants to despise.
Jack Quinn has had his eyes on Lakeside Books for years, and he couldn’t be happier the owner is finally ready to sell. He has big plans for the cozy waterfront property, but he didn’t expect to care about the store or its employees. And he never imagined he’d be drawn to a certain brown-eyed saleswoman.
Almost as if by magic.
What others are saying.
*Merry Little Wishing Spritz made me smile, grin, giggle and thoroughly entertained me. ~ Long and Short Reviews
*This book is perfect for an afternoon read and has a spritz of magic and a sweet romantic ending. ~ Stillwater Magazine
*Merry Little Wishing Spritz is a happy romance story that includes a little paranormal zing of witchy wonderfulness ~ Goddess Fish Reviews
Get your copy now.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/merry-little-wishing-spritz-cherie-colyer/1140147083
Universal link: https://books2read.com/u/m0BJBV
More About the author
Professional network technician by day, novelist by night, Cherie lives a quiet life in the Chicago suburbs with her charming husband. She has four amazing sons who she loves dearly. Cherie magically weaves together stories with a paranormal twist. She’s the author of the Embrace series (Embrace, Hold Tight, and Entwined), Challenging Destiny, Damned When I Didn’t, and Friends to the End. She waltzes into the adult novel world with this enchanting holiday romance, Merry Little Wishing Spritz.
Keep in Touch
Bookbub author page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cherie-colyer
Happy new week! I hope you have all your shopping done and your house smells amazing. I'm not cooking on Thursday but Friday. We'll have the usual, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes. There will be a few side dishes. Corn is a must have for my husband. Oh, and pumpkin pie too. I hope you enjoy today's guest at the fire. You know sometimes we have a fire in the fireplace, sometimes in the firepit. One time we had a New Years Eve one upstate. Brr! it was cold but you just snuggle up to someone and pull your chair closer to the flames. Today we're braving the outdoors at a campfire. Please help me welcome today's guest.
Hi, Marla! Thank you for joining us today. Why don't you introduce yourself?
Hello campers, thank you, D. V., for saving a place around the campfire with you! I love the holidays, and this year has been particularly special with the release of my very first book, “The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder.” I’ve been making up stories since I was in grade school but am something of a late bloomer, not getting published until my late fifties. Hopefully, that will inspire any readers who think they’re too old to accomplish their next big dream—it’s never too late!
Nope, it's never to late so many greats got their start. Grandma Moses started painting at 76 and Julia Child was in her fifties when she become a television icon. I bet they all had someone or ones supporting them. Who encouraged you in your writing?
None of it would have been possible without the Friday Night Book Club that started it all. We are four authors who started meeting once a month for wine, cheese and reading each other’s pages for thoughts and encouragement. Two have since moved away, but the momentum is still there.
What kind of books do you like to read and are there any that stand out?
I read multiple genres and find inspiration in all of them. From Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series to Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache books, I’m drawn to great characters with flaws and lots of heart. From Raymond Chandler’s lyrical prose to Robert Parker’s blunt but funny Spenser books, I think there’s room for all kinds of writing styles. The one influence on my writing that all of these writers share is a sense of humor.
I love a book that can make me laugh. What other interests do you have?
Camping is something I love to do but living in California, it’s been tough this past year because of the fire danger. A group of us planned to go camping, but the parks closed, so we set up tents in a friend’s backyard instead. Roasting marshmallows around their fire pit was just as delicious, and the bathrooms much nicer, LOL! I also love quilting, gardening and hope to get back to horseback riding at some point in the future.
Oh, that sounds like so much fun. We do a lot of "Driveway Camping". Margo, sometimes people evoke memories, sometimes objects. Do you have a special something?
I have a mug that a dear friend gave me that says, “Trust Your Journey.” It’s been a tough past few years, and this mug makes me smile every morning.
Let's rub a magic lamp. Would you ask the genie for unlimited international travel tickets. Or, never have to pay for food in a restaurant again?
I’d definitely rather have unlimited international travel – if this past year has taught me nothing, it’s that cooking at home can be fun.
What household chore do you dread?
Worst household chore, hands down, is cleaning the refrigerator. I know because I just did it the other day. Taking out all the shelves and drawers – yuck.
And you never know what you'll find growing in that container behind all the other stuff. As a camper, you must play board games. I think it's an unwritten rule.
I love board games! I’m not sure if this counts, but I love a Yahtzee set I have that is shaped like the Tardis from Doctor Who, and the dice have villains like Weeping Angels or Daleks instead of numbers. Cards Against Humanity is hilarious in a big enough group.
We carry Yahtzee too but I'm jealous of your Tardis. What was your first job?
My first job ever was at a fabric store. At sixteen, I think I was the youngest person to ever walk in the place, nonetheless work there! But I’d been sewing since I was about eight, so I loved it. Plus, it was in a mall where a lot of other friends worked, so there was always someone to see or talk to.
I am obsessed with Project Runway and my favorite part is when they go to Mood. For years I've played Where's Swatch? So, sixteen, still in school. What should they teach in school that they don't any longer?
Can they teach common sense in school? Music is something that should definitely be taught in school again. There’s nothing quite like being in high school band. Also, cursive handwriting – why did that go away again?
I'd don't think they can teach common sense. You have it or you don't. Unless time and experience are your teacher. I agree the arts should be in there and such a shame about cursive. It can be quite beautiful. Do you do research for your books?
I do a lot of research, but usually after my first draft. I typically outline my books, so I know the story going into it, but sometimes new ideas come up as you write, and I’ll put a # by that thought, and before I start the second draft, do the research. I don’t like to stop the writing process if I’m on a roll to do a lot of research.
Oh, that's a good tip. How about your characters? How do you come up with names?
Sometimes the characters just name themselves, and sometimes I do a group text and ask my friends for suggestions. Once a poster at the dentist’s office inspired me. You just never know when or where ideas for a name will come up!
Reviews are a big topic in writing circles. What are your thoughts?
I'm just new in the writing game, so I haven’t had to deal with bad reviews – yet. I’m sure I will and will probably muddle through with a glass of wine and some chocolate.
Everyone is on a budget so it's nice to know what others think. What's the best money you've spent on you writing career?
The best money I’ve spent so far as a writer was to pay a professional to edit my book.
Marla, thank you for stopping by the fire. Before you leave would you tell us more about your new book and where to find it and you?
Marla share the holiday's around her house.
The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder
Marla A. White
(per the author rated G)
When Mel O’Rourke traded in her LAPD badge for a spatula, she had no idea baking could be so hard…or deadly.
After injuring herself on the job as a Los Angeles cop, Mel O’Rourke leaves the force battered both physically and mentally. Looking for a fresh start, she moves to a quiet mountain town and opens the Babbling Brook Inn. Excited for her new life, Mel decides to participate in the town’s holiday cookie contest, but her newfound joy goes up in smoke when one of her guests turns up dead in her lobby.
Mel is tempted to attribute the death to natural causes but when another guest dies, her cop instincts kick in. The local Sheriff tells her to stand down, but Mel can’t let it go. With everything on the line, she has to push through her fears to catch the killer before more bodies drop, perhaps even her own.
On a scale of 1-5, The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder deserves a 6.
In this fun, fast read, script writer turned author Marla White shows off her talent for writing crisp, snappy dialogue and creating unique, one-of-a-kind characters capable of invoking laugh-out-loud moment. Just when things are running smoothly, another monkey lands on the piles of wrenches, sending B&B owner Mel O’Rourke off and running—literally if not figuratively. The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder is an homage to small rural communities and those who flock to them—as well as large, Irish families who pass down their traditions—flawed by accident, or maybe not. We hope this story is the beginning of even better stories to come.
Barnes & Noble
More about Marla
Marla White started her illustrious career as a storyteller at the age of four by drawing on the TV screen to help Winky Dink get out of mortal danger, earning her a firm spanking. Deterred by the negative feedback, she studied to be a park ranger instead until she realized it was really a TV show about park rangers she liked, not the actual outdoors.
After a stint working in local TV as an assistant/hand model/ad copywriter and occasionally a camera operator, she came out west. Her first job was working for the producers of “A League of Their Own” but no, the character of Marla is not named after her.
She’s been involved in several award-winning television movies for ABC, CBS, USA, and HBO. Later she became the head of television for Emmy Award winner Peter Tolan’s Fedora Entertainment where she worked on several network shows before turning to write stories of her own. Additionally, she teaches story analysis and story workshops at UCLA Extension.
Appropriately, she found out on April Fool’s Day she’d sold her first book, "The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder” to Wild Rose Press, to be released in the second half of 2021. “The Angel By The Tower” is the first of her fantasy trilogy.
Follow Marla here
Wow, I can't believe it's only five days until Thanksgiving here in the U.S. The year has blown by so quickly with so many changes and happenings. This year we'll be having dinner at my sister's house. It'll be the first time without my mom. I just sighed as I typed that. The past year many of us have had losses. But the bible says in all thing to give thanks. That doesn't mean for the losses but to count the blessings that you still have. Where would our life be if we only focused on the bad things? I imagine there's going to be tears around the table this year but also remembrances of a life lived. Of love given. Probably laughter at some of her antics. Each year the pain will be less but the memories are buried inside forever. Friday we'll have dinner with my son and his family. The house will have the laughter of children which wouldn't have been possible with out Mom and Dad.
It's the circle of life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
'Til we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle
The circle of life
Songwriters: Elton John / Tim Rice
Circle of Life lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company
Speaking of life, today's guest has had some twists and turns herself. New home. New job. New book. And she still found time to share the fire with us. Please welcome today's guest, N. Jade Gray. Thanks for joining us. We know you are an author but what interests besides writing do you enjoy?
I love music and enjoy attending concerts. I enjoy hiking and nature and trying to capture the nature beauty in pictures. I read mostly romance. Give me a happy ever after every time….
We have very similar interests and I'm a total fan of the HEA. Music = Bands= Team work, who is your team? What folks do you count on?
My main support system is mostly my family and friends. I’ve been a member of a couple of writing groups. I’ve stayed in touch with several of these members and we try to encourage each other in our writing endeavors.
What inspires you to pick up a book and invest time in it. Author? Similar books?
I have a few favorites, but really a blurb, cover, or inside cover can get me interested in a story more often than not.
How do you lighten the load life often gives us?
I enjoy being a kid at heart. There are just instances that you have to let your inner child come out and play.
What is your neighborhood like? Are there any places you frequent? What makes them special?
After twenty-five years my husband and I moved from Kansas to Missouri earlier this year. We are adjusting to the new neighborhood, but truthfully I’ve really enjoyed the animals the neighbor has on the acreage next to ours. Horses, cows, a goat, and a pot belly pig. All have visited us on our property and I don’t have to clean up after them. Win win!
That's a touchdown. I'm a country girl too. We drove past someone walking their goat on a leash the other day. Have you had any adventures lately?
The move took me out of my element this year. I’m chomping at the bit to get back out to signing gigs for my books and plan my next vacation.
Worst household chore?
Does anyone ever really enjoy scrubbing the toilet? Show of hands…Probably my least favorite!
Ugh, you are correct. What ridiculous thing has someone tricked you into doing or believing?
I’m gullible sometimes. I’m just going to leave this subject right there!!!!
Hmm, maybe one of our visitors can pull that information from you. I'm intrigued. Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
I’m all about experiencing new things. I’ll take the tickets please. Book it! ☺
Do you play board games?
Growing up we liked to play board games and several card games. Canasta was a big family favorite growing up. I liked playing the game of Life. I just found at an antique shop the game of anagrams. We used to play Anagrams with my Grandma Miller. It was fun to reacquaint myself with the game.
What was your first job?
At fifteen I drove to a neighboring town to do laundry at a Nursing Home. But truthfully, growing up as a farm kid, my first real job was well before that one. I drove a tractor, I greased the combines, and I could scoop chicken poop like the best of them.
Yep, I lived on a dairy farm. That has to count. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
The historical books I’ve written definitely were more challenging and took more preparation. But truthfully I don’t outline my stories, so the research I need to do I do when I’m ready to add that element to my story.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Sometimes the names just pop into my head. And sometimes the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Ha ha I’ve always wanted to say that.
LOL! What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Ordering my cover art of my books to be printed onto metal. An inexpensive way to prove to yourself you can make your dreams come true. It just takes hard work and persistence.
What a wonderful idea! My new friend, would you leave us a bit of a tease about your newest release and where we can find out more about it and you?
And here's a picture of her neighbor. I wonder why the long face?
Kisses and Lemon Snowflake Cookies
N. Jade Gray
(will release December 6, 2021)
Return to Cedar Bend, CO
Fireman Dustin Keith didn't realize women would be coming out of the woodwork after he posed for the local fundraiser calendar. But the one who catches his eye is a baker with trust issues. Can he scale the wall she's built around her heart, or is fate destined to extinguish the flames of desire before they engulf his heart?
Lauren Badini came to Cedar Bend to lend a helping hand at her aunt's bakery, not fall for Mr. July. The image on the calendar she received last Christmas fueled her fantasies, but the in-person version is too hot to handle. But if life after her ex has taught her anything, it's okay to look...but don't touch.
More about the author
I grew up on a farm in Oklahoma with one sister and three brothers. I met my husband while attending college. After college I held various accounting positions and have worked as a legal assistant.
I enjoy reading and have been writing stories since high school. Now that my family is grown, I'm working on writing and getting published.
I am a former member of the Wichita Area Romance Authors and Romance Writers of America.
It's a special fireside chat with fellow Wild Rose Press author Margot Johnson. I made the fire extra warm today. She's from the way north in Canada and reminded me of my years in Minnesota and what -40 degrees feels like. No a recommended temp for strolling through the woods, just saying. But whether it's warm or cold where you are you're always welcome to share my fire. Now let's grab a cup of something soothing and you are encouraged to join the conversation.
Hi, Margo, I'm so glad you joined us today. Let's jump right into the deep-end. We all have the official version of who we are, but who you are other than your bio?
I’m a real family person. As an introvert, I don’t need a lot of social interaction, but I do love to stay in close touch with our big blended family through texts, Facetime, and Zoom. My mom learned to text at 87, and she’s a lively contributor.
Variety is the spice of life, that said, what interests besides writing do you enjoy?
I walk at least 10,000 steps a day. My monthly book club helps me expand my reading choices—we read a wide variety including mysteries, thrillers, biographies, chick lit, romance, literary fiction, books off the bestseller lists, and stories by Canadian authors. I love to travel—Mexico every February and wherever else we find deals or interesting things to do. I also serve as a Board member for the Saskatchewan Writers Guild.
Busy lady. Book clubs are great for drawing us into what we may not usually pick up. You said you are an introvert but do you have a network or support system?
I’m lucky to have a supportive husband and extended family. My sister Donna Gartshore writes for Harlequin Love Inspired, so writing is a favorite topic at family dinners. During normal times, I attend coffee meetings of the SK Romance Writers, and it’s a talented and successful group of authors who support each other.
How wonderful you have an insider in the family to to chat with about writing. I fear I bore mine when I talk about it. Who or what books or authors are your inspiration? My dad, Ian Bickle, was a writer and editor. From a young age, I saw writing as a way of life, and I wanted to be like him. He used to sit at the dining room table and click away on an old, manual typewriter.
So, it's runs in the family. I'm jealous. Other than walking in sub-zero temperatures, have you had any adventures lately? Conferences, conventions, vacations? Tell us a bit about what made it special to you.
I’m excited about an adventure to come. Two years ago, I applied and received an invitation to the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. It was postponed because of Covid, but I hope it might happen in 2022.
That's amazing! What an opportunity. I wonder if you're going to wear a hat or a
fascinator? You'll have to post a picture. What is your favorite mug or teacup if neither T-shirt with graphic or Meme?
I have a collection of dog-themed mugs, and I love them all. The most recent addition says, “I will always woof you.”
Favorite childhood book?
I read all the Nancy Drew books, and I loved the Secret Garden.
Worst household chore?
Washing floors. Our floors are always covered with dog pawprints.
Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
Definitely, the tickets. I have a long wish list of travel destinations, especially throughout Europe.
Did you ever win something?
I came within one number of winning a car on the TV game show “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Do you play board games? What games do you like?
Our family is big on games, and we even hold fake medal ceremonies on makeshift podiums using chairs and/or coffee tables. Favorites include Catchphrase, Telephone Pictionary, Uno, and Utter Nonsense.
What was your first job?
As a student I taught figure skating. My first real job after graduating from university was writing ad copy at a radio station.
What’s the most amazing natural occurrence you’ve witnessed?
Baseball-sized hail! We were staying in a cabin at Waskesiu Lake in northern Saskatchewan when a huge summer storm hit.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
So far, my books haven’t demanded a lot of research, but I do it as I write or revise. My first book featured an air force pilot, so I learned from a former air force pilot turned flight instructor and had him review the sections that referred to flight.
How do you select the names of your characters?
probably spend too much time on it, but it’s like naming a baby. Names give a certain feel to a character, and I often google popular names the years my characters were born. I learned from my editor to avoid names that start with the same letter so readers don’t get confused.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I’m happy to read and learn from every review. I wish more readers would post them.
What was your hardest scene to write?
I can’t think of one specific scene, but in general, I find writing the middle sections hardest because I want to avoid the ‘sagging middle’ and keep the plot and pace strong enough to hold a reader’s interest.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I attended a 2-3 day romance writers’ retreat that was a three-hour drive away and based in an old monastery. I enjoyed quiet time during the day, got a solid start on a new novel, ate delicious, home-cooked meals, and socialized with other writers in the evening. It was fun and productive!
Margo, you are such a fun person. Thank you so much for sharing my fire today. If you can, before you leave, how about telling us where we can find out more about you and your books? And for our guests make sure you go to the end and read some interesting tips and insights.
How do you dress for a walk in -40s. I say with a shawl, slippers and a cup of tea in front of the fire. But my intrepid guest bundles up and heads out.
“These rules apply for each stop so we can all enjoy the goodies inside and still keep the tour on schedule. You are free to choose from several platters of cookies. If you would like to sample other kinds or take some home, you can purchase as many as you’d like. We’ll stay for thirty minutes, and then I’ll jingle.” She demonstrated with a string of bells. “Last one back on the bus has to tell a joke or lead a song. If you agree, shout snowball.”
“Snowball.” In a chorus of voices, the group hollered back the right answer.
She lowered the mic. “What about you, Santa?”
He shifted the gear into Park. “Nobody’s going anywhere without me.” He straightened his hat and quirked a fluffy eyebrow.
She smiled, folded her arms, and tapped a foot. Her boots were pretty eye-catching covered in green and red toppers with bells on the toes. Maybe she could cajole him into some good-natured joking. “Santa, you know what happens to kids who don’t behave. You don’t want to end up on the Naughty List, do you?”
“Snowball.” He kept a straight face.
Review from New York Times Bestselling Author Mary Balogh:
“I loved LET IT SNOWBALL. From the first page I wanted to book a place on Merilee’s nightly Season’s Eatings Christmas tour bus with its three stops at cookie shops to sample and buy. On the last page I wanted to book ahead for the Valentine’s tour! Margot Johnson has a way of making a festive atmosphere seem very real. Combine that with a warm and gentle love story that feels truly authentic, and you have a winner of a story.”
Let it Snowball
Love Takes Flight
Love Leads the Way
Also author of the novels Love Takes Flight and Love Leads the Way. I write feel-good stories about women who chase their dreams and bump into romance along the way. They live in small communities near my home in the Canadian prairies, and they count on an eclectic mix of family and friends to make their lives interesting and fun.
My new release is available as an eBook on Amazon and major online bookstores. I hope you agree it’s a fun way to celebrate the Christmas season!
In my story, the heroine, Merilee, shares her famous cookie recipe for chocolate snowballs. Maybe you’ll want to add it to your Christmas baking list.
My writing tip: Don’t wait for the perfect idea or ideal moment. Just sit at your keyboard and write!
Inspiration for this story: I live in a place where winter storms and frigid weather are common. I also love Christmas.
Last year during lockdown, my husband and I couldn’t visit friends and family in person, so we delivered Christmas light necklaces to their doors and then connected online. We also bundled up for a walk on a minus forty degree day. I can imagine my characters Merilee and Ross sharing similar adventures.
One wish: I love hearing feedback from readers. I wish everyone who reads Let it Snowball would post a review.
Happy Monday to you all. It's a chilly day in New Jersey but I've lit the fire so it's toasty warm. Thank you for joining me and today's special guest who is also from the Garden State. Ruth is a best selling author and her latest book releases November 16th. Yep, tomorrow! So grab a cuppa and join the conversation.
Hi, Ruth. Thank you for joining me today at the fire. Let's get right to it. Who you are other than your bio?
I am the proud mother of three wonderful children. I have written that sentence at least three times. Children. They are all have children of their own. Our older daughter is a pre-k teacher who did an awesome job with remoting teaching. She has a daughter who is 16 and a son 13. Our younger daughter has just started her own cottage baking cookie business. She made cookies for Anna St. Claire and I with our signature and book covers for the reader’s event we went to Romancing the Gold Coast. She and her husband have a daughter who is 4. Our son is the youngest is a cyber security engineer and if I knew what he did he’d have to kill me. His ring on my phone is Secret Agent Man. He and his wife have a new baby who turned 3 months last week.
So you have a full house at times. I wish I had someone to make special cookies for me. Sigh, no that wouldn't work. I'd eat them. So hold the cookies and tell me, what interests besides writing do you enjoy?
I am working on a new Regency series, so a lot of my recent reading is research driven. Today it was Napoleon’s escape from Elba Island. I enjoy doing count-cross stitch, I’ve started a new project for the upcoming holiday. A gift for the new baby.
I am also taking a class on paper craft. It’s always difficult to find just the right ‘thing’ to give away at a conference or in a giveaway. In this class we are learning to make projects that are useable, pretty, and can be branded.
I'm no crafty, but making paper crafts sounds interesting. Who is your network or support system?
This is tough question. There are so many people who have and still do contribute to my career. My first critique partners Emma Kaye, Nicole S. Patrick, and Lita Harris. The writing groups I belong to New Jersey Romance Writers, Hudson Valley Romance Writers, Washington Romance Writers DC, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Regency Fiction Writers (aka Beau Monde)
My publishing twin, Julie Rowe. Our first novels were published by Carina Press and were released on the same day. We have stayed very close friends. Eliza Knight who was my mentor. Kathryn LeVeque my editor and role model.
There are my readers, librarians, friends, and family. I don’t think anyone does it alone.
Wow that's an impressive list and you're right, I couldn't imagine doing this alone. Okay, Jersey Girl, tell us about your neighborhood? Are there any places you frequent? What makes them special?
I live in Teaneck, a northern New Jersey town about five miles outside of New York City. We are a town of roughly 40K people. The township was created in 1895, but the first buildings date back to 1704. Our area was prominent during the Revolutionary War with George Washington and his troops passing through Teaneck on their hasty retreat from the British.
Cedar Lane is our main street in town and the crowning shop is Bischoff’s Confectionery. It is an old-fashioned ice cream soda fountain experience complete with red leather spinning stools. I LOVE the cherry vanilla ice cream.
Bischoff's sounds wonderful. I love treasures we can find close to home. Have you had any adventures lately? Conferences, conventions, vacations? Tell us a bit about what made it special to you.
While I have been to Zoom conference this past October I went to my first in person event in 18 months, Romancing the Gold Coast in Glen Cove Long Island. This was a two-day reader’s event with games and crafts, an elegant tea and delicious ball. Many of us were in costumes which made the event even more special. I met fans I only knew by name and saw authors and librarians I hadn’t seen in a long time.
Those virtual events were great, but there's nothing like meeting and greeting in person. I mentioned treasures above, do you have a particular object like a piece of jewelry or a keepsake of some sort? Can you tell us what makes it special to you?
I have a pin that is very special to me. My grandmother gave it to me when I graduated from college. I had never seen it before. It’s a beautiful diamond and platinum antique pin. After all these years of not having anyplace to where it, I finally found the event and dress to wear it, on the Regency costume I wore to the Romancing the Gold Coast reader’s event this last October.
That sounds lovely. I have my mom's sweet sixteen ring that I'm going to hand down to my granddaughter. What is your favorite mug or teacup if neither T-shirt with graphic or Meme.
My most favorite mug is the one that says, Nana. It’s just the right size and it keeps my coffee hot.
I bet drinking from it reminds you at every sip of those beautiful grands. What's you favorite childhood book? Or writing that inspired you to become an author.
My favorite childhood author was Walter Farley and his Black Stallion series. I had read Nancy Drew. I didn’t really like the Hardy Boys. But there was something about this series that hooked me. It a triumphant tale of a boy and a wild horse. Alec is on ship and the stallion is being transported. There is a storm at sea. Alec saves the horse. They both make it to a deserted island where they have adventures and are eventually rescued.
If you could eat anything in the world right now, what would it be?
Easy answer… Cherry vanilla ice cream from Bischoff’s
Worst household chore?
The worst household chore ever is the laundry for one simple reason. I cannot reach the bottom of the washer to remove the clothes. Therefore, (*smiley face*) my husband does the wash.
If you could time travel, where would you go and when? Why?
I would love to travel to London in the Regency era about 1825. I am currently writing a Regency romance and I am immersed in the era down to the clothes.
Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
I would take unlimited international first-class tickets and travel, travel, travel. I want to see places I write about again and again
Do you play board games? What games do you like?
Sometimes I play Scrabble with the family or Chutes and Ladders with the grandchildren. I am currently learning Mahjong. It’s a board game without a board.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met and talked with?
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize for Economy 2001. Full disclosure. Joe is my sister-in-law’s brother. I cannot claim the gene pool. Joe and his wife Anya are gracious and wonderful, but I will admit to being a bit star struck. At a family gathering, he sat with me and asked about my writing, when my next book was being released, and he asked with interest not as a conversation filler. He found it mind boggling that I self-published several of my books.
On the writing side, I had real fan-girl moments when I met Diana Gabaldon, before Outlander was on television. We didn’t talk for long, but she gave me words of advice. I had just read Tasha Alexander’s first book in Lady Emily Mysteries. I was the conference chair that year for the New Jersey Romance Writer’s and had to invite speakers. I loved her book so much, I contacted her and she attended. It was great.
If someone came up to you and said, “Hey, do that thing you do!” what thing would pop into your head first?
Make a brisket.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I start with names I like and many times, most times actually, as the story develops, their name changes.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do read my reviews. The good and the bad ones. When my first book was published I read the reviews excited that someone actually read my book, Knight of Runes. One review threw me for a loop. It wasn’t about the story. I could understand not pleasing every reader, but this review was a personal attack.
What was your hardest scene to write?
I was writing the second book, Knight of Rapture, in my Druid Knight series. This is a time travel romance. In this story, the heroine has been tricked to go back to her time in the 20th century. The love of her life, our hero has to go find a way from the 17th century into the 20th century to save her. He finds her and tells her he will never leave her. The villain has been devious. If our hero stays in the 20th century, his estate will vanish and so will the heroine. The only way to save her is to return to the 17th century. But she cannot return.
I cried when Arik realized that with all his magic there was nothing he could do. He had to leave her. I cried when I wrote that scene and I cried when he actually left her. I cheered because she was made of stronger stuff and found a way to follow him. I still cry when I reread those scenes.
Ruth, this has been a great interview and so interesting. I do have one more favor, would you leave us a peek at your book and where to find out more about it and you?
The Lady and Her Quill
Her mind kept telling her to stop loving him, but her heart couldn’t let him go.
Heat Rating PG
Renowned author Lady Alicia Hartley has lost her muse after a bad review. She blames it all on the author JC Melrose. A chance encounter with a handsome, witty Justin Caulfield has her heart racing, and her muse seemingly back. Is he her savior or her worst nightmare?
He didn’t see the turbulent ocean. He was too busy dealing with a different tempest.
The recently retired Captain Justin Caulfield is facing his own demons. As gifted author JC Melrose, his stories honor men who died at the hand of one man. His only focus is to avenge their deaths, that is, until he meets and falls in love with Lady Alicia.
The two authors take on a writing challenge based on a story of stolen gold taken from the newspaper headlines all to determine the better writer. While researching the story, Lady Alicia is captured by the thieves’ ringleader. Can Lady Alicia turn this mystery into an award-winning story? Can Justin save his real-life heroine? Can they both overcome their own challenges for a happily ever after?
Reviews for The Lady and Her Quill
5 Stars – Goodreads – Petula – Very easy to get involved, excitement and adventure
4 Stars – Goodreads – C. Baker – Good Read
4 Stars – Goodreads – E’s Reading Corner – Entertaining first in new series
4 Stars – Goodreads – M. Whitworth – Very much enjoyed
RUTH A. CASIE is a USA Today bestselling author of historical swashbuckling action-adventures and contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages and have earned her several coveted Crowned Heart Awards. She currently has three historical series, The Druid Knight, The Stelton Legacy, and her new Regency series, The Ladies of Sommer-by-the-Sea. She also has a contemporary romantic suspense series, Havenport Romance. Her stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. She lives in New Jersey with her hero, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and vice president at an international bank where she was a product/ marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures.
Social Media Links:
Ruth’s Newsletter Signup: http://ruthacasie.com/contact.html#newsletter http://bit.ly/RuthsNewsletterSignUp
Facebook private reader’s page, Casie Café: https://www.facebook.com/groups/963711677128537/
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/RuthACasie/
Personal Blog: http://www.ruthacasie.blogspot.com
Happy Saturday! Thank you for joining us today at the fire. We've had a few gorgeous days here in New Jersey and Pete, Hali and I have been hiking in the woods near our house. We even lit the chiminea and spent the evening reading around it. Is it just me or is everyone thinking it 10pm when its only 6? I hope you enjoy learning about today's guest who's also a "Jersey Girl".
Hi Maria! I'm so glad you're with us today. Let's get right to it. I have a bio, you have a bio, we all have a bio. But who you are other than your bio?
I’m the mother of two incredibly strong and independent daughters who love spending time with my husband and me, and we love spending time with them. I’m the daughter of a strong and independent 94 year old mother, who is my biggest cheerleader. I talk to her everyday and see her at least once a week. We do crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles together. I guess you could say I’m a family person. I’m also a lover of beaches, travel, dancing, music and lifelong learning.
That sounds wonderful. We do puzzles too. I like crossword-Pete sudoku. What interests besides writing do you enjoy? Tell us about what you read too.
I’ve loved reading since I was 5 and that hasn’t changed one bit. I am usually reading 2-3 books at a time, which I wouldn’t recommend, but I can’t help myself. There is always the book club book, which is generally something I wouldn’t have chosen myself, but I’m always glad I read it. They may be historical fiction, suspense, women’s fiction – usually something that’s been on someone’s list (Oprah, Jenna, NY Times). I also read romance (contemporary, historical, and sometimes erotica). In addition to reading, I like to exercise (Jazzercise because it’s dance-y or walking while listening to music).
Who is your network or support system? Those who contribute to your writing career. My husband is an incredible supporter of my writing. He’s only read a few of my books, but has been very positive in his comments about them. When other people ask if he’s read my books, he usually says that he doesn’t want to know what he should be doing and isn’t. For Christmas last year, he printed out all of my book covers and framed them. They are now hanging in our library and it makes me smile every time I see them. My mother is like my agent, but in an embarrassing way. Everywhere she goes (doctors, grocery store, Macy’s, church meetings) she hands out my bookmarks and tells people how wonderful my stories are (she has told me that the sex in them isn’t necessary though). I do love that she’s a huge promoter as long as I’m not with her.
He's so sweet. Your mom sounds amazing too. Can you tell us who or what books or authors are your inspiration?
Judith McNaught, Kristan Hannah, Emily Giffen, Rachel Gibson, Kristan Higgins.
Do you have any fun or outrageous talent?
Oh I bet you have some party trick you can pull out. But alas we'll keep wondering. What's your neighborhood like? Are there any places you frequent? What makes them special?
I live in a small town in central NJ- a typical suburb in a pleasant neighborhood. Since I hate to cook, my husband and I go out to eat frequently. Our local restaurants here in Lawrenceville and the surrounding area are the best. Chambers Walk, Metro Grill, Boro, Enzo’s, TJ’s, Yardley Inn. We’ve gotten to know the owners/managers of all of these restaurants as well as the wait staff, and everyone is friendly and welcoming. It’s like going to a friend’s place for dinner.
I love local restaurants where you feel like your in an episode of Cheers. Unfortunately two of our favorites are closed. Have you had any adventures lately? We just got back from a two week vacation—our first after staying put for the last year and a half. We went back to Key West (where we’ve gone every year for the past 35 years) for a week. It’s such a wild and crazy town. It was Fantasy Fest week and the college kid comes out in every adult there. Not us of course. People generally enjoy many cocktails throughout the day and night while listening to music at various open air bars. Halloween costumes are the norm, but if you don’t want to wear a costume, there are dozens of places to have your body painted sans clothes. The weather is warm, the spirit is lively, and it’s great fun – for a week. After that, we headed to Delray Beach to visit friends, then on to St. Augustine since we had never been there before. Seeing new places, whether in the US or abroad is what I want to do going forward. Next trip – Alaska.
The Keys are on my bucket list. And you're going to adore Alaska. If you could eat anything in the world right now, what would it be? Milk chocolate-any time, all the time.
Hah, as Charles Schultz said, "All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt". Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
Unlimited international first-class tickets. There are so many places I want to fly to and being able to enjoy the flight because of a more comfortable seat and improved food would just make the whole experience that much better.
Did you ever win something? What? I’m very lucky in general. I once won a Mercedes SUV through a Big Brothers Big Sisters raffle. I also won a diamond necklace at a fundraiser.
Wowzah! Next time I buy a lottery ticket I'll pick you up first to go with me. What was your first job? I was the candy girl at a small local movie theater when I was 15. I loved it because all my friends worked there too. My job was my social life.
What subjects should be taught in school, but aren’t?
Oh, for the days of Miss Manners. Do you do research before starting a book?
I don’t spend any time researching before beginning a book. I create an in-depth outline (more like a blueprint) of the entire story and only research when I’m writing a scene that requires it.
Reviews are an author's lifeblood. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I absolutely read my book reviews. I smile while reading the good ones and talk back to the reviewer who wrote a bad one – explaining what they missed.
Maria, thank you again for spending time with us. Before you leave can you share a bit about your newest book and where we can find out more about you and it?
Red Velvet Crinkles And Christmas Sprinkles
Competitive, work-obsessed Bella Simonetti has just been fired from her high-paying job at a Manhattan law firm. At an all-time low, she returns home and helps her parents at their small-town gift shop, but the business is failing and may not make it past the Christmas holidays.
Successful landscape architect Dean Jackson is like a son to Bella's parents. But he’s a persistent annoyance to her—he seems to have forgotten his unforgivable blunder thirteen years earlier.
When Bella transforms her parents’ gift shop into a cookie cottage, Dean's generosity and magnetic smile are hard to resist, and those feelings of unrequited adolescent love come rushing back. But can Bella let go of the past and accept Dean for the man he is today?
****Review from N.N. Light’s Book Heaven 5 stars***
Red Velvet Crinkles is a heartwarming enemies-to-lovers holiday romance I devoured in one sitting. Maria Imbalzano takes a few tropes, whips them until they're frothy, and then adds sugar to make the ending on Christmas sweet. The plot moves at a great pace with a close-knit cast of characters. I loved the small town, Bella's parents, and so much more. We get both Bella's and Dean's POV which filled a lot of holes in the story. Dean teased her in high school to keep his distance. His feelings scared him back then and now he has to make amends. There are some meaningful messages in this story, even though it's short. Sometimes what you've been looking for is right in front of you. The romance was so good and honestly written. I enjoyed the push and pull between Bella and her parents. The dialogue is humorous at times with plenty of snark. Red Velvet Crinkles is a delightful holiday romance and one I highly recommend!
Get your copy today
More about the author.
Maria Imbalzano is a retired matrimonial lawyer who now writes full time. Instead of drafting motions, legal memoranda, and briefs, although fascinating, she now spends her days creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys through her contemporary romance novels.
Her novel, “Unchained Memories,” won the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers’ Award and the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award. “Sworn to Forget,” the first of the four-book Sworn Sisters Series was a finalist for the illustrious RONE award as well as the Book Buyers Best Award. Her novellas, “The Blueberry Swirl Waltz” and “A Song For Another Day” each came in first in their category in the National Excellence in Story Telling contest and finaled in the Colorado Romance Writers Beverly contest.
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