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Feel free to stop by The Romance Studio for Spookapalooza, Oct 24 – 31.  There will be several authors participating, sharing book blurbs, interesting stories/recipes, and even offering prizes.

http://trsparties.com

spook5_promo

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I live in the deep south, so fresh air is relatively simple to find.  A fresh attitude, however, is not so easily obtained.  But I have come to realize that the more I have of the first lends itself toward helping me find the second.

In recent months, I feel like I’ve been getting hit from all sides. My job is up in the air.  My home life is going through its own share of turmoil.  And I’m watching a couple of friends go through major health crises right now. It is easy to wallow in the doldrums these days.  And my attitude has definitely been leaning far to the negative side lately.

Spook

My daughter has been taking horse riding lessons for quite a while.  But recently we switched from group lessons at one barn to private lessons at a different one.  Initially, she was taking evening classes with the new instructor. But now that the days are shorter, we have switched to Saturday morning lessons. Today just may have been one of the most perfect mornings I’ve had in a while. The weather couldn’t  have been nicer, and we had the whole place to ourselves except for the instructor.

While she began her lesson at the front of the pasture, I went to area behind the barn and sat on a swing in the sunshine and watched the other horses as they grazed.  It was so peaceful and refreshing.  I was even inspired to use that time to fit in today’s routine in my C25K program.  There is nothing like jogging in an open field with the smell of hay and cut grass to wake up your senses!

Today’s time spent in the fresh air did my spirit a world of good.  I could have spent that hour with my nose buried in my Nook like I usually do.  But instead I paid attention to the beauty around me, and it motivated me to do something good for myself.  I know there will still be times when I give in to the mully-grubs. But I’m going to try to be more positive.  And at least on Saturdays, I know I can count on Beauty, Nova, Echo, and my other equestrian friends to cheer me on!

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Two f-words have become huge in my life over the last year.  Football and Facebook.

old TV

Growing up, my father would watch any football game that was on television. Didn’t matter what teams were playing.  He knew them all and he had a favorite that he was pulling for in every matchup.  It didn’t make sense to me, as a little girl.  I’d think, “But we live in Georgia.  Why are you pulling for the Dallas Cowboys?”  I knew nothing about the game and didn’t understand how the path to the playoffs worked and that there was a method to the madness if you wanted to see your team in the Super Bowl.

nfl

By the time I was in college, I’d figured it out.  I pledged allegiance to the 49’ers and the Saints.  And when they faced each other, I had to cheer for the Saints (I’m a southern girl, after all).

A funny thing happened, though, and over time I cared less about pro football, but got totally absorbed in college football.  I  became a fan of one certain team, and would watch every game.  I kept up with the rankings every week and kept my fingers crossed that we’d end up in the national championship game.

football map

Then, strangely, this past season got much bigger for me.  I started following not only my own favorite team, but I followed all the others as well.  I started becoming just like my dad…watching football because there was a game on, regardless of the team.  I’d watch to see who was defeating whom, and how much of a threat would they be when we played them later in the season.  And it extended not just beyond my favorite team, but even beyond our own conference.  I watched Ohio State, FSU, Oklahoma, Duke, Notre Dame, Stanford, Oregon, Clemson (well, you get the idea). I kept up with how, if this team loses it helps our ranking go up, and if that team wins it will hurt our ranking.  I’d go to work on Monday mornings and chat with all the guys about the miracle plays we’d seen, or how this team crumbled, or that player got hurt, or there was a new rising star on another team.

So it is safe to say that football has a bigger role in my life than ever before.

And as this past season progressed, I found myself spending more and more time on the second F-word I am writing about today.  Facebook.  Oh, I’m neglectful about posting things to it myself.  I rarely update my status or post photos about anything.    But I’ve gotten somewhat obsessive about reading what other people post during games.  You can learn a lot about your friends by looking at their written  sentiments.  Some people who seem so demure are absolutely evil when it comes to putting down the opposing team.  Some, who have every right to take cheap shots, will never stoop that low and find something positive to say about both teams.  Others – my favorites- inject humor in their posts and come up with some of the funniest plays on words or catch phrases.  Yeah, they might still take a cheap shot (maybe even against my favorite team), but it’s so witty and clever you find yourself laughing with them rather than getting irked.

Phew!  I guess it’s good that the college ball season and bowl games are almost over.  Only a couple more days and I’ll no longer be chained to my favorite easy chair in front of the television.  I need to use those hours to go to the gym to tackle my own new year’s resolution.

See, even I can make a pun once in a while.  🙂

 

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Wow!  Hard to believe it’s 2014 now.  I wonder how many weeks it will take before I stop writing 2013 on all my checks and other documents??

2014

This is the time of year we all typically make new year’s resolutions.  My friend, Kate Patrick, told me yesterday that she’s taking a new approach and not making any for 2014.  I will have to check in with her later today to see if she is sticking to that or if she’s changed her mind and set a few goals for herself after all.

I am still contemplating what mine will be.  It’s a yearlong commitment, so I can’t enter into it too hastily. I have till midnight to decide, right?  🙂

I do know that I am looking forward to this new year, however.  I have a good feeling about it, and think some nice surprises could be in store for me and my family.

I hope it brings lots of great things your way, too.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

fireworks

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windy day

I’m going through withdrawals.  Due to high winds in the area where I live , my satellite dish has shifted just a smidge.  Most channels still come in clear as ever, but a few of the HD channels no longer pick up.  Normally I wouldn’t care about missing a few channels.  With my choice of over 300 other options, there should be plenty of alternatives.

There is one problem though…This is the Christmas season, and the Hallmark Channel is one of the ones I can no longer tune into. And I lost the signal prior to Thanksgiving.   All those lovely holiday romance made-for-TV movies, and I haven’t been able to see a single one!!!  Last year, this became my addiction.  I would record them so I didn’t have to miss any of them, then delete them only to make room for another week’s worth.  This past summer, there was a brief “Christmas in July” sort of thing going on with Hallmark, and they replayed several of my favorites.  I watched them all again.  But now, as the season revs up to high gear, I’ve  watched nary a one.  It’s scandalous!

working out

I’ve been forced to look for distractions, to keep my mind off the lovely stories I’m missing out on.  For one, I have actually started going back to the gym.  This development had the potential to provide a very nice boost right here at the end of the year to help me reach a personal improvement goal I’d set back in January.  However, it was totally offset by the fact I’ve also had time to start my holiday baking.  And with baking comes the requisite taste-testing.  Totally counteracts the time spent at Planet Fitness!!

baking

I’ve also killed time by doing my Christmas shopping.  I’m WAY ahead of schedule on that, with nearly all of it already completed now.

I’ve spent more time with family, fixing meals to share with some of my older relatives who don’t get out as much.  What nice visits we’ve had when I’d show up unannounced with a foil wrapped plate of food to drop off.

Oh, yeah, and as of Friday night, there is the second offering from The Hobbit trilogy.  Kate Patrick and I made sure to go on opening night, and it did not disappoint!  Richard Armitage and Aidan Turner provided a generous amount of eye candy to keep us in a festive mood.

Smaug

My husband has been promising to get up on the roof and reposition the satellite for me.  Hmmm, I’m having a lot of fun with these other diversions.  Maybe I’ll tell him to hold off for a few more days.

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Today I’ll be stopping by several blog sites, sharing snippets of my recent release, Bama Bride.  I have to work today, but I’ll check in as often as possible.  So feel free to leave comments or ask questions.  I am giving away a $25 Amazon gift card as a prize to a random commenter, so good luck!  The awesome ladies at Goddess Fish have lined up a lot of excellent people as participants.  Check them out…you might discover a new favorite that you want to follow!

 

All of the tour stops are listed here:

 

1:  Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess

2:  Andi’s Book Reviews

3:  Queen of the Night Reviews

4:  Wicked Readings by Tawania

5:  Novel Moments

6:  Books and Other Spells

7:  A Writer’s Life

8:  Critters at the Keyboard . . . .

9:  United By Books

10:  Kate Patrick…unlock your fantasies

11:  Read Your Writes Book Reviews

12:  Deal Sharing Aunt

13:  The Dan O’Brien Project

14:  You Gotta Read Reviews

15:  My Odd Little World

16:  My Devotional Thoughts

17:  Dawn’s Reading Nook Blog

18:  Tina Donahue Presents

19:  Sandra’s Blog

20:  Enjoying the Unique Flavors of Life

21:  Nickie’s Views and Interviews

22:  Chris Redding Author

23:  Wake Up Your Wild Side

24:  Author Jinni James

25:  Mommasez…

26:  Renee Luke

27:  Deb Deb Reviews

28:  Sweet and Spicy Tales

29:  Harlie’s Books

30:  Christine Young Romance Writer

31:  The Snarkology of a Romance Author

32:  A to Z Reviews

33:  Reviews by Crystal

34:  Bea’s Book Nook

35:  Perfect Chaos

36:  Writer Wonderland

37:  My Reading Obsession

38:  Just Trying to Let it Be

39:  Sugarbeat’s Books

40:  Author Raine Delight’s Blog

41:  Sharing Links and Wisdom

42:  Reading In Twilight

43:  Unabridged Andra

44:  Perusing Princesses

45:  Welcome to My World of Dreams

46:  It’s Raining Books

47:  Long and Short Reviews

48:  Straight from the Library

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We’re past the halfway mark in 2013.  Can you believe it?  How is it possible for time to pass as quickly as it does?

When my holiday romance novel, The Christmas Dare, was released in early December ’12, one of the tag lines in the promotional materials was “Romance is never out of season.”  I didn’t want people to think that this was strictly a Christmas read, simply because that word was in the title.  And I have been pleasantly surprised that I see units sold every single month.  I’m glad other people feel the same way I do about holiday romances.  I can read them any time of the year and get completely swept away in the stories.  In fact, I have been indulging in one of my guilty pleasures this past week…watching the Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.  I log a lot of hours every December sitting on my couch and tuning into see whatever romance movie they have scheduled every night during that month.

Merry Christmas

 

So when I was watching Love Begins (based on Janette Oke’s book) last weekend, I was thrilled to see advertisements for their upcoming programs as they celebrated Christmas in July.  My only problem was that there were too many great titles to choose from, and I couldn’t possibly watch them all!  Christmas SongThe Christmas CardHitched for the Holidays A Bride for Christmas.  And, of course, all of Debbie Macomber’s wonderful holiday movies.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!  The choices have seemed nearly limitless this week.  Thankfully, I can Tivo them and watch them as I have spare time.  But my DVR is down to only 33% available space.  🙂

In thinking about what a delight it is to have the opportunity to watch Christmas movies in the middle of the year, I was reminded of that tagline for my book.  Romance is never out of season.  We don’t want to be treated special only on birthdays or anniversaries or on Valentine’s Day.  We like to know we’re appreciated and loved all year long.  Similarly, the Christmas spirit shouldn’t be confined only to a few weeks at the close of the calendar year.  We should strive to find ways to give to others all during the year.

I thought about my husband and how he cuts the grass at a vacant house my parents own.  The house has been for sale for ages.  The yard is HUGE – way bigger than our own yard.  But my husband mows the grass, weed eats and edges the lawn faithfully without accepting a dime for all the hours of work that he does.  He considers it a gift to them.

My oldest sister often offers to pick up my mother’s prescriptions at the pharmacy every month.  And if she picks them up, she pays for them.  And never asks to be reimbursed.  My other sister will give her manicures and pedicures.  It’s a way they can give back to Mom.

My colleague’s nine-year-old daughter has a friend whose parents are in the midst of one of the worst custody hearings I’ve ever personally known about.  It all comes to a head this coming week in court.  My friend had a trip to Disney World planned to celebrate her daughter’s birthday.  Even though it wasn’t something she initially intended to do, she included this little girl in her trip to give her a positive diversion in the midst of what could be a life-changing event, depending on the outcome of the hearings.  She told me she felt like it was just something she really needed to do, and even though adding a non-relative to the mix totally changes the dynamics (and adds a lot of expense), she feels like she is doing something very important and worthwhile.  It’s a way she can give something special to this child at a time when it is needed most.

We should all look around us and find ways we can bless others.  Whether you call it giving back, doing a good deed, or paying it forward, it doesn’t really matter.  In the end, regardless of what you’ve done for someone else, you’ll probably be the one who finds the experience most rewarding.

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