Sweet Christmas Kisses 4

Posted Sep 24 2017 in , , ,

Sweet Christmas Kisses 4
Launches September 26th – Only $.99 cents

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Usher in the holiday season with 14 heartwarming all-new, stand-alone stories from New York Times, USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors. Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 takes you from the Pocono Mountains to sunny Florida, and as far away as Portugal. Curl up with your favorite hot beverage and enjoy this sweet romance boxed set that’s sure to put you in the mood for Christmas.

Mona Risk, In Time for Christmas
Dr. Sylvia Reynolds promised to be at her parents’, in time for Christmas dinner, but her priorities change after she meets a motherless baby and her gorgeous uncle.

Beate Boeker, Unique Christmas
Chiara hopes to spend a solitary Christmas all by herself. But when a man jumps through her office window to save her from an accident, things spin away—beyond her wildest dreams.

Christine Bush, Christmas with the Cat Lady
Carly is happy living alone in her mountain house with her cats. Can the handsome author who rents a room over the Christmas holidays change her mind?

Lyn Cote, Loving Winter
At her cousin’s wedding, Winter Woodard, owner of her family’s garden center, isn’t expecting to meet her match in local football coach, Clay Dixon, (she isn’t IN to sports!) but he stands by her through a holiday season fraught with unexpected setbacks.

Denise Devine, Once Upon a Christmas
Small town girl returns home to find love and success, but can she outlast the mistakes of her past?

Raine English, Christmas in Walnut Creek
Will a Christmas blizzard reunite a couple and give them a second chance at love?

Jean C. Gordon, A Team Macachek Christmas
Sparks fly from a Christmastime reunion of motocross racer Jesse Brewster and his ex-girlfriend Lauren Cooper. But is it the wrong time for their love?

Shanna Hatfield, Saving Mistletoe 
A stubborn cop, a hotshot attorney, and a little girl determined to see her father need a miracle to make this holiday season jolly and bright.

Milou Koenings, The Gift of Yesterday
When Bailey returns to Green Pines to open a pastry shop, Joe Hudson sees all his Christmas wishes coming true—if only he can convince her to risk her heart again.

Josie Riviera, A Portuguese Christmas    The holidays—like love—can sneak up on you. And sweep you away like a riptide.

Roxanne Rustand, A Christmas in Montana
Kristen Weatherby goes to Montana to get her late grandmother’s house ready to sell, but finds much more than she bargained for: a house she can’t let go, a charming mountain town, and a handsome veterinarian who just might steal her heart.

Magdalena Scott, A Cowboy for Christmas
Hannah Kincaid is in love with Jacob Hollingsworth, and will overcome her fear of horses and his bossy brother Michael to get a Christmas happily-ever-after with the cowboy of her dreams.

Merrillee Whren, Puppy Love and Mistletoe
Can a little girl and a fluffy black dog bring a reluctant couple together in a Christmas miracle?

Here is an excerpt from PUPPY LOVE AND MISTLETOE, my contribution to the set.

Chapter One

The crunch of snow beneath her boots and her own heavy breathing were the only things Amelia Dunford heard as she ran along the snow-covered sidewalk in her little Maryland town. She had forgotten to charge the battery on her phone, and now she was paying the price. She would have to complete the rest of her early-evening run without music.

She had hoped the music would take her mind off the unsettling news that the community recreation center where she worked was in the red and funding for the future might lay on the chopping block of the city budget. She didn’t want to lose her job or see any of her coworkers lose theirs, especially not right before Christmas.

Without the music to soothe her mind, the troublesome thoughts would take over. What else could go wrong?
She turned the corner and found out.

Her heart jumped into her throat as she spied the fluffy black dog rambling along the sidewalk on the other side of the road. She hoped he would stay there. He might be cute, but he was still a dog—a dog who could bark or bite or both. She slowed her pace in hopes that she wouldn’t attract his attention.

Why was a dog roaming about without an owner on a cold, snowy evening? Amelia had never encountered a dog on the loose during any of her runs in the two years she’d been taking this same route between her apartment and the nearest park, where she ran around the lake three times before heading back home. Dogs were always on leashes. Dogs belonged on leashes. Dogs without leashes made her pulse race.

The pup looked her way. Did he sense her fear? Panic paralyzed her thoughts. She stopped. If only she could make herself invisible. What was she going to do about that animal? If she ran, would he chase her? If she stayed still, would he charge toward her, teeth bared? Would it help to scream?

The pooch stared at her as she slowly put one foot in front of the other. He didn’t move. Watching him out of the corner of her eye, she picked up her pace. When the black ball of fur trotted across the street toward her, she swallowed hard. She wanted to run in the worst way, but that wasn’t the answer. A steady pace was the best solution.

Why did this silly fear from her childhood still haunt her? People of all kinds had dogs—dogs they loved. But the ragged scar on her right arm reminded her that dogs could be dangerous no matter how sweet they looked.

Glancing around, she searched for someone who might come to her rescue if the hound decided to attack. An empty street greeted her. Smart people were cuddled up inside their homes at this bitter-cold time just before sunset, not out in the elements. She couldn’t let fear win. She would make it home.

As she crossed the street at an intersection, she glanced behind her. Her furry foe had veered down the cross street. Was she in the clear? Could she dash ahead and lose him forever? She sprinted forward, afraid to look behind her.

When she came to an intersection with a red traffic light, she considered crossing against the light. The dog had turned, so she should be safe if she stopped. With that in mind, she halted and punched the button for the crosswalk signal, then jogged in place to keep the cold from seeping in. The orange hand on the signal flashed as the seconds ticked down. The light changed to green, and she dashed across the street.

Just as she reached the other side, the dog, a streak of black against the white snow, raced toward her, his ears flopping. Should she run up on someone’s porch? When she pounded on their door in a panic, would they look at her as if she were crazy?

Taking a deep breath, she forged ahead at a brisk pace and prayed the dog would find something besides her to attract his attention. She didn’t hear barking or the sound of anything approaching from behind. Did she dare look? Before she turned, a black flash dashed by her. She stopped in her tracks, her heart pounding. Now in front of her, the dog spun. Was he circling in for the kill?

Amelia closed her eyes and stood statue-like, her arms tight against her sides. Holding her breath, she peeked through her eyelashes, as if she were watching a horror movie. No sign of the dog. She fully opened her eyes and let out a harsh breath that created a cloud in the air. She scanned the area. No dog.

Until she looked down.

The dog sat at her feet and stared up at her with big brown eyes. She forced herself not to scream.

Her pulse pounded in her head as her stomach roiled. She closed her eyes again and took a deep, calming breath. She wasn’t a kid anymore. She could deal with this dog in a logical and grown-up manner. She let her eyelids flutter open. The unwanted canine was still there.

The tips of her toes and fingers grew cold. She couldn’t stand here in this frigid weather much longer. With deliberate slowness, she took a step. The dog didn’t move. She hoped that was a good sign. She took another step and continued slowly down the block. No dog. She focused on the sidewalk as she put one foot in front of the other. With every step, she was that much closer to home. Only a few more blocks to go.

She rejoiced when she spied the century-old row house where she lived in the first-floor apartment. She had no idea whether the pup still followed, but she wasn’t going to turn around to find out. As she closed in on her front stoop, she resisted the urge to run. She pulled her keys from her pocket and had them ready when she reached the door. She slipped the key into the lock. As she opened the door, a burst of black charged by her.

Her heart nearly stopped as she stared into the upturned face of that crazy pooch as he sat in the middle of her living room floor. Too stunned to scream, she grabbed hold of the door in order to keep her knees from buckling. This had to be a bad dream. She would wake up and find herself standing alone in her living room, not confronted with a stray canine.

She shook her head and blinked, but the unwelcome animal still sat in the middle of her floor. Maybe she should call 911. No. They would think she was a lunatic for calling about this nonemergency. She could handle this, but she could use some help.
Amelia retrieved her phone from her jacket pocket, then remembered it had no charge. She spied the charging cord still plugged into the outlet. She prayed she could reach it without this dog attacking her. Her friend Jenna, who worked for a veterinarian, would come to the rescue.

***

“Daddy, Daddy. Jet’s gone.”

Scott Graham turned at the sound of the little girl’s voice. “What do you mean he’s gone?”

“Come outside and see.” Lily pointed to the back door.

Scott traipsed through the kitchen and into the mudroom as he followed his charge. Every time she called him Daddy, his heart crumbled with guilt. Her real daddy should be here, but he wasn’t. Scott promised himself every day that he would do his best to take care of Lily, but he feared he wasn’t cut out for the job. Dwelling on that negative thought wasn’t going to help now or in the future. He had a missing dog to deal with.

He pushed opened the back door. The long black leash and an empty collar lay against the snow-covered ground. Paw prints led to the gate that stood open just enough for a dog to slip through. Scott released a harsh breath as he looked at Lily, who was on the verge of tears. “I guess we won’t be leaving Jet outside alone anymore.”

“Daddy, can we look for him?” Lily looked up at him with her big dark-brown eyes filled with tears. She blinked, and they trickled down her light-brown cheeks.

Scott’s heart twisted. She reminded him of her mother. Her parents had been his best friends before they’d been killed in a car accident four years ago. Since that time, he had been Lily Jackson’s guardian. Scott had taken in the two-year-old with a lot of trepidation, but her smiles and giggles kept him sane on days when he’d like to shut himself off from the world. For four years she’d made his life worth living even on the worst of days, but was he doing her any favors as she lived in his troubled bachelor world?

“Please, Daddy,” Lily said while Scott remained lost in his thoughts.

He patted her on the top of her head. “It’s cold out there, and it’s getting dark. Since you have your homework done, we can take a quick trip around the block and see if we can find him.”

Lily raced to the coat closet and pulled her coat from the hanger and dug her hat and gloves out of the sleeve. She practically bounced into the mudroom, where she tugged on her boots. Scott joined her as he shrugged into his coat and pulled his stocking cap on. As he opened the door, a cold blast of air almost took his breath away.

Undaunted, Lily charged into the cold, then turned to him as he closed and locked the door. “Can we be detectives and follow his paw prints?”

“Good idea.” Scott fell into step behind Lily as she pointed out the paw prints that led into the alley behind the house. They followed them until they came to the nearby street, where the prints disappeared. The sidewalk cleared of snow left no clues. “Looks like we’ve lost the trail. What do we do now, Ms. Detective?”

“Daddy, don’t call me that.”

“Oh, I thought you said we were playing detective.”

“Not playing. Being.”

“Okay. Being. You lead the way.” Scott was pretty sure Jet would return home when he got hungry in a little while, but Lily’s concern was something Scott should take seriously. She loved that dog.

“Jet. Where are you, Jet?” Lily’s high-pitched voice rang out through the quiet evening. The full moon made its appearance as the sun slipped behind the row houses on the other side of the street.

Lily repeated her mantra while they made their way around the block. Lights sprang up in the nearby windows along the street, as if Lily’s voice flipped a switch. When they turned the last corner and Jet was nowhere to be seen, she grabbed Scott’s hand. The simple trusting gesture reminded him that this little girl depended on him for everything. He had to do right by her, and that included finding her beloved pet.

Putting one arm around her shoulders, Scott pulled her close. “Should we jump in the car and drive a little farther to see if we can find Jet?”

Lily bobbed her head. “That would be good.”

“Then we can grab a burger before we head home.” Scott didn’t feel like cooking, although he did most nights.

When they got back to the house, Scott grabbed his car keys. In minutes he was driving up and down the nearby street while Lily called Jet’s name out the open window in the backseat. But they saw no sign of the little black pup.

After they ate their burgers from Lily’s favorite fast-food restaurant, they headed home. As Scott maneuvered his car into the parking spot at the back of the house, he hoped he would find a contrite canine waiting for them on the back porch.

Scott’s heart sank when Jet wasn’t there to greet them. What could he say to Lily to reassure her that Jet would return, when he wasn’t sure that would happen? As he unlocked the door, moonlight beamed around them. He glanced into the starry sky. A clear, cold night lay ahead—not a good thing for an animal on the loose.

Lily sat on the mudroom floor and tugged off her boots. “Daddy, will Jet get cold if he doesn’t come home?”

“If he doesn’t make it home, I’m sure he’ll find someplace warm. He’s a smart dog.” Scott rationalized that he wasn’t telling a complete lie. The dog was smart. He’d figured out how to open the gate. Would he find a warm spot where he could survive the cold night? Scott could only hope.

After Scott hung their coats in the closet, he looked at Lily, who sat on the couch, her head in her hands. He wished he could say something to cheer her up, but this week had brought a lot of changes into her young life. His new job, which would start on Monday, had brought them to Hallburg, a small town northwest of Baltimore. Lily was just adjusting to a new school and a new teacher. She didn’t need the loss of her pet to complicate her life further. He only wished to keep her days as routine as possible.

He had taken this job in order to move to this quiet little town away from the chaos of the city. Living in a small town would mean a more peaceful life for Lily. He wanted the best for her so he could fulfill the promise to his best buddy, who wasn’t here to see his daughter grow up.

Scott tapped Lily on the shoulder. “It’s a school night, so you’d better get ready for bed.”

“Already?”

Scott nodded. “We spent a lot of time looking for Jet.”

“But we didn’t find him.” Lily’s voice came out in a miserable whine.

Scott had no comforting response. For all he knew, the dog could be trying to make his way back to their previous residence in the city. He hoped that wasn’t the case, but it was a possibility. “I know, but we’ll find him tomorrow if he doesn’t make his way home tonight.”

Lily traipsed up the narrow staircase and trudged to her room as Scott followed close behind, hoping his statement was true. Every time he said something positive about the dog’s circumstances, he feared he was giving her false hope. Helplessness inundated him as he supervised her bedtime routine. Bedtime prayers included a request for Jet’s safe return.

As Scott tucked Lily into bed with a hug and kiss, she clung to him and whispered in his ear. “Daddy, you say an extra prayer for Jet.”

“I will, sweetie.” He tucked the blanket under her chin.

Back downstairs, Scott went to the back door and turned on the porch light. He didn’t see a sign of their furry friend. He stepped onto the porch, his arms crossed against the cold. He walked to the alley and looked one way, then the other. Still no Jet.
His shoulders sagging, he plodded back into the house. He stood in the middle of the living room and looked around. Lily wasn’t the only one who missed that dog. What was he going to do if Jet didn’t return? He didn’t know how he could explain that to the little girl who depended on him for everything.

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Novellas

Posted Aug 28 2017 in , , , ,

Do you like to read novellas? I’ve teamed up with five other authors, Kristen Ethridge, Jessica Keller, Cate Nolan, Tina Radcliffe, and Cheryl Wyatt, to bring you six inspirational back-to-school romances. In all the stories, at least one of the main characters is a teacher. LOVE LESSONS is on sale for .99 cents at Amazon. Click on the link to purchase.

Here’s the blurb for my novella in this set, A Love So Strong.

      When elementary school teacher Sedona Welch sets a goal to lose fifteen pounds, she doesn’t expect to barter her tutoring services in exchange for personal training, especially with a handsome personal trainer.
      Cody Dunn has all he can deal with taking care of his eight-year-old nephew, Mason. Cody finds an ally in Sedona as she helps him negotiate the guardianship of this troubled boy. But he doesn’t anticipate the attraction to his nephew’s cute little tutor.
      Can well-meaning friends help this reluctant couple find a love so strong?

Make sure to get this set today!

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Hidden Figures

Posted May 30 2017

 

It’s been a few weeks since I did my last movie review of the Oscar-nominated movies from 2016. Of all the Oscar-nominated movies that I saw this past year, Hidden Figures is by far my favorite. This movie is the true story of African-American women who did calculations for NASA during the space race between the USA and the Soviet Union. It is based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. The story is poignant and humorous at the same time. It’s a story that made me both laugh and cry. It touched my emotions in so many ways. If you haven’t seen this movie, you should.  

Have you seen this movie? What did you think?

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Another Oscar-Nominated Movie

Posted Apr 8 2017 in , , , ,

Here’s another installment about the Oscar movies that I saw this year. The next on the list is Hell or High Water. I was surprised when I learned that this movie was on the list for Best Picture. It was a movie I enjoyed, but, to me, it doesn’t fit the Oscar mold. This movie takes place in West Texas where you will see a pumpjack like this one.

The  story features two brothers. One has just gotten out of prison. They are trying to save their deceased mother’s ranch by paying off a reverse mortgage. In order to do this, they need to rob several banks. I dislike movies where the protagonists are bad guys, but this was kind of a Robin Hood movie. The bad guys are trying to help someone with their ill-gotten gains.

My sister-in-law grew up in Post, Texas, and part of the movie takes place there. I’ve been to Post, but it was many years ago, and I wasn’t sure the scenes in the movie were actually shot in Post.

What do you think of movies that feature main characters who are doing unlawful things?

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War Movies

Posted Mar 26 2017 in , , ,

This is a photo of the World War II monument in Washington, DC. We visited there a few years ago when I was at a writer’s conference. A lot of American boys went off to war after the attack on Pearl Harbor. One of the Oscar nominated movies this year, Hacksaw Ridge, featured the true story of one of these men. Desmond Doss was a pacifist who still wanted to serve his country, and despite being ridiculed he saved many men from death at the battle of Hacksaw Ridge.

Although this movie was bloody, and I had to look away several times, I appreciated that it portrayed a person of faith in a positive light. The fact that it was based on a true story made the movie that much more meaningful.

If you have a tendency to cry at movies like I do, you need to have a full compliment of tissues with you because this movie will be sure to make you cry.

Do you ever cry at the movies?

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Another Oscar Nominated Movie

Posted Mar 7 2017 in , ,

Last week I talked about the movie, Arrival. Today I’m going to give my thoughts on another movie from the list of Oscar nominees for Best Picture, Fences. I went to this movie with my older daughter and wasn’t sure quite what to expect. I knew the story was about a black family in the 1950s. I had read several good reviews about the movie and wanted to see it. As I watched the story unfold on the big screen, I soon came to the conclusion that the movie must be based on a stage play because even though it was movie, it had that “stagy” feel. I asked my daughter if this was the case, and she confirmed that the movie was based on a stage play. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play was written my August Wilson. 

The movie stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. They give fabulous performances, but the story is somewhat depressing about man who wants to do right, but fails in too many ways, and the wife who manages to survive his failures. It’s definitely not a feel good movie, the kind I’m prone to like, but I’m not sorry that I saw it. It reminds me that we are all weak and only through God’s grace can we be what we ought to be.

How do you feel about sad or depressing stories?

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Movies

Posted Mar 1 2017 in , ,

I enjoy movies as much as I enjoy books. I like a good story. I haven’t watched the Oscar Awards in years, and many years I don’t see many of the movies that are nominated for the award. This year has been an exception. Too my surprise I have seen nearly all of the best-picture nominees. Even though the awards have been handed out, during the month of March, I’m going to give my opinion of the nominated movies I have seen. I’m going to go in alphabetical order. That means I’m going to start with Arrival.

My husband and I went to this movie because our go-to critic liked it. It is a sci-fi movie of sorts. Amy Adams plays a linguist who is assigned the task of communicating with the aliens who have arrived in pod-like space ships that hover above the earth’s surface. The movie delves into metaphors of life. I like a story that makes sense. This movie, in many ways, did not make sense to me. I guess that’s why I’m not a movie critic. I just didn’t get the ending. It didn’t complete the story for me.

If you have seen this movie, what did you think?

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Merry Christmas

Posted Dec 20 2016 in , ,

As a Christmas celebration, the first book in my Front Porch Promises series, A PLACE TO CALL HOME, is on sale through the end of December for 99 cents. The third book, A FAMILY TO CALL OURS, is newly published and has a bit of a Christmas theme.  You can find buy links for all of the books on my book page. Just click here, then use the icons to go to your favorite online book retailer. The first two books are also available in print. The third book will be available in print soon.

Have a Merry Christmas and happy reading.

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Sweet Christmas Kisses 3

Posted Oct 4 2016 in ,

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Sweet Christmas Kisses 3, a boxed set from 17 Sweet Romance Reads authors is available now for purchase for .99. You can find more information about the boxed set at the following blog.

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