Archive | November 2013

An American Thanksgiving by Tasha Taylor

From Christina: As we come to the end of the Thanksgiving season, I thought it would be fun to end on this note from across-the-pond author, Tasha Taylor. Here’s her experience with an American Thanksgiving. 

An American Thanksgiving

by Tasha Taylor

Thanksgiving 1993 – Thursday 25th November

1993 was a year of firsts for me. The first time I was away my family in the UK and my very first Thanksgiving.

I was 21 years old, and working for an Air Force family as nanny to their baby son. I had never heard of Thanksgiving before, but totally loved Christmas, so was well up for finding out all about it.

The process of preparing for Thanksgiving started the weekend before. My employer, and now dearest friend, had me help her locate the seasonal crockery, cutlery and decorations in the attic. I had never before come across such bright coloured crockery and the idea of changing it all over was a little strange. At home, my mum had a bone china dinner set that was only used on holidays and special occasions, so the idea wasn’t so unfamiliar after all.

The sheer amount of food that was purchased and prepared was overwhelming and I came across several dishes that were unusual – the jello and the green beans with fried onions. But I still love the green beans dish to this day.

I have to admit I knew little about the origins of Thanksgiving and it was really interesting to find out the reasons behind it.

The First Thanksgiving

In the UK, bank holidays (the equivalent of your national holidays) are not equally spaced throughout the year and so the idea of a holiday prior to Christmas is a great idea.

In the UK, we have the following:

  •  New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • May Day (first Monday in May)
  • Whitsun (last Monday in May)
  • August Bank Holiday (last Monday in August)
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

 

So you can appreciate how it’s a long time from the end of August to Christmas!

For me, now, some 20 years on from my first Thanksgiving, I do think of my friends across the pond and I do give thanks, in my head, in a blog, in an email or on social media, because the time I spent in the US, and the lasting friendships that I formed, and the new friendships that I continue to build through my writing are precious to me.

Two things I hold dear are friends and family. One verse I hold dear is:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.”

I believe that life is too short to spend time on regret and thinking what if. Take the time this season to give thanks for what you have, to tell those that you hold dear that you love them, value them, miss them, even if they are not in your life on a daily basis. At one time they meant something to you, and be thankful that you had them in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tasha Taylor is a UK based author, writing contemporary romance and is also a fiction addict. It is not unusual to find a book open in her home – next to the bath, next to the bed, in the office, on the stairs and then there’s the e-reader, smart phone and laptop. She is also mother to her son and future ex-wife to her partner. Other duties include cat lover and dog washer.

Tasha started writing at 15, creating her own little world where everybody went to boarding school and found true love in their teens. She’s moved on grown-up romance since then. No love is ever without its difficulties, but it’s the strength of that love that sees us through the good, the bad and the mornings when mascara alone just won’t cut it. Tasha also has an addiction to social media. You can find here at her website: Tasha Taylor or you can follow her on Twitter @tashatayls. She loves to hear from readers, so drop her a line at tashatayls@gmail.com.

 

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Home, Health…and So Much More by Lynn Rae

As Lynn Rae points out, we think first of home and family when we’re giving thanks. But there’s so much more to be thankful for! She shares a few of her blessings. And I couldn’t agree more with #4! What a true blessing. 🙂

Home, Health…and So Much More

by Lynn Rae

This is the time of year when we are often asked what we are grateful for. That’s one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving. It’s nice to have a holiday centered on reflection and gratitude, two very laudable characteristics often overlooked in our busy, modern culture. The obvious answers to the question are elemental; our families, our health, the happy achievements of the year nearing its close.

This year I decided to expand my horizons and come up with some other things I am grateful for this year. Here’s a partial list:

  1. Joining a CSA. For those of you unfamiliar, the letters stand for Community Supported Agriculture. Our family bought a share, and every week this summer we received a box of fresh, locally-grown produce from a small farm operation. It was delicious, good for us, and a wonderful way to try new foods free of excess chemicals and shipped from goodness knows where.
  2. My son’s school. He started kindergarten this fall and the transition couldn’t have gone more smoothly. I was worried about him riding the bus, being the littlest in a school full of ‘big’ kids, and how he would do having to get up so early in the morning. After very little adjustment, he’s happy to go every day of the week, always says he’s had a good day when he gets off the bus, and his teacher says he’s a great helper.
  3. The Worthington, Ohio Public Library. We use this resource at least once a week. It’s a fantastic library system (the Library Journal gave it five stars again in 2013), the staff is friendly, and the materials they provide are world-class. I can browse picture books for my son, new classical music releases, or delve into research materials for my next book.
  4. The DVR. This household device, along with our automatic ice-maker, has made my life exponentially better. Not only can I skip commercials, I don’t have to worry I’m missing something when my son or husband are watching what they want on our solitary television. Recording shows means I never have to negotiate who gets to watch what, when. I just wait until everyone else falls asleep and I can catch up on all the Walking Dead episodes I want.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Lynn Rae is a romance writer residing in Columbus, Ohio.  With professional experience in fields ranging from contract archaeology to librarianship along with making donuts and teaching museum studies, she enjoys incorporating her quirky sense of humor and real-life adventures into her writing (except the naughty parts). Her latest contemporary, Return, is available from Musa Publishing and other online retailers.

 

Be Thankful by Tori James

From Christina: Today, I’m very thankful to share this wonderful post from author Tori James. It’s a special day for me — a sad one in many ways, but a day of honor, as well. My younger sister passed away several years ago. Her birthday was November 21, and even though she’s no longer here with us to celebrate, I still want to honor her memory. I miss her, and I’m grateful for the love and friendship she gave to me — and to everyone she met. Jan would have loved Tori’s post about being thankful.

Be Thankful

By Tori James

I think about Thanksgivings past and how, especially when I was younger, to be so grateful for the things I had, the people in my life. It’s easy to be grateful for all the good, easy and wonderful bits but as I’ve grown older (maybe even a bit wiser? Jury is still kind of out on that one, honestly), I’ve learned to be thankful for the whole of it, the big ball of crazy that is my life.

Thankful

I’m thankful for the bad days, they show me who  I am, what I’m made of and what I can conquer.

I’m thankful for the rain because it cleanses, washes away the dirt, the shadows, and that first peek of sunlight after a good storm is breathtaking.

I’m thankful for my enemies, they mean as much to me as my friends. They tend to show me that which I don’t wish to become and make the sweet sincerity of my friends more meaningful.

I’m thankful for the days where pain stings because I’m  a warrior at heart and it reminds me that nothing can keep you down. If life knocks you, you come up swinging.

Thankfulness is more about recogizing the teensy miracles that happen in our ordinary, every day lives. On the comical side, I’m thankful I wake up. Thankful someone brewed the coffee I need to survive. I’m bloody thankful that chocolate exists or things would be sketchy at best. I’m far from being a beauty queen but I am thankful for my face, my form. Even my freckles. All my flaws. Because they make me…me. And despite it all, there is no one else I’d like to be.

My life is full of blessings, large and small. Every day is a gift and every day I wake up, there is just more to appreciate, both in myself and others, in the world.

When we stop seeing the simple miracles; a child’s laugh, our fave song playing on the radio, the fact that Starbucks has finally started serving Holiday Drinks (Caramel Brulee Latte….how I love thee!) or the fact we are able to pay the bills on time (mostly), that’s when we start taking things for granted.

So this year, I’m beyond blessed and I know it. I’ve had my share of both good and bad happenings and events in the last 365 days but there is not a single moment that I wasn’t learning, reaching, growing and living. Rising up to my challenges, meeting new people and making my own lil mark on the world. There is thankfulness and joy to be found everywhere, every way…every day.

Happy Gobble Gobble to one and all!

STT

 

Torie James has loved reading since she was old enough to hold a book in her lap. While her friends were out playing, she was generally curled up nearby falling down rabbit holes, catching second stars to the right, and stepping through wardrobes into mysterious lands and countless adventures. When those stories ended, she made up her own and kept going. Her debut novel, a paranormal romance called Timeless Night, was released on Sept. 20th 2013 and she’s currently working on the sequel.

Readers can find Tori on Facebook as well as on her blog: Oh, the Places I Go!

 

Junk Collecting

As a writer, I must remain on reasonably good terms with my “muse” — that playful, imaginary critter inside my brain that digs around in my subconscious and dredges up ideas and possibilities for the stories I write. When I step back on occasion and look at the crazy mish-mash of things he’s come up with, I worry a bit. Obviously my subconscious is a strange and frightening place.

What exactly is the subconscious? In clinical terms, it’s that part of our mind that influences our thoughts and actions without our awareness. It’s often compared to instinct or intuition. Subconscious

I don’t usually think of my subconscious in clinical terms, however. I think of it more as a huge warehouse where my little muse collects tons of junk. He grabs things that catch his attention, shoves them down into this subconscious cellar, and maybe they’ll never be found again. Or maybe someday while my muse is puttering around in search of one thing, he’ll come up with some long-buried and long-forgotten treasure that just happens to be exactly what I need for a new story.

Yes, by the way, my muse is male even though I’m not. Maybe in some crazy way that helps create a balance. Maybe not.

The fact remains that sometimes we find the most incredible things lurking within ourselves. We don’t know where they came from, and we might not know what to do with them, but when we play around with them and consider the possibilities they present, we open ourselves up to new ideas, new ways, new pathways to success and happiness.

As a writer, I spend a great deal of time creating problems, conflicts, and complications for the characters in my stories. Do I enjoy making them suffer? No, of course not. I tell myself that suffering will make them stronger, and maybe it does, but I’m not one who holds the belief that bad things happen in order to teach us lessons. I think bad things happen in life simply because that’s how life works. We get some good, some bad, some laughter, some tears, and it’s up to us to figure out what to do with it all. It’s up to us, too, to figure out what it all means, if, in fact, it has any real meaning.

The worst thing about throwing problems at my characters is I then have to figure out how to solve them so that we can all come to that “happily ever after” that’s so important in romance-writing. Ah, there’s the rub! If I’ve done my job well, I’ve put my characters into situations that have no solutions. I’m asking the impossible of them.

As often as not, I can’t logically figure out answers to the dilemmas in which my characters find themselves. Fortunately, I have a helpful little muse who knows what to do. He trots downstairs to that subconscious cellar, mutters a few words about the mess, and then pulls some crazy hare-brained scheme out of a box like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat.

“Here, try this,” he tells me.

Of course, my muse is imaginary. In other words, he doesn’t really exist, there’s nobody stomping around inside my brain, and thank goodness all that “junk” that’s collected there is imaginary, too. If not, there’d be no place to put it all.

Yet even though it’s imaginary, the muse is real. The subconscious is real. We access it through quiet moments, through stillness, silence, and even through familiar, routine movements — washing dishes, ironing clothes, taking a walk.

We access the subconscious, too, in our dreams each time we sleep. Bits and pieces of life get tossed into that imaginary place, they get shuffled up, re-arranged, and thrown into unmarked boxes. It all gets jumbled up. What a mess!

But out of that mess, from that jumble of mismatched socks and half-baked ideas, the fantastic dreams and the colors swirling through our heads, ideas abound. Solutions to problems! Possibilities to explore! Answers to questions that maybe we haven’t even gotten around to asking ourselves yet.

It’s all there in those hidden realms of the subconscious.

Take time to today to sit and listen to the silence. Speak a few words to your own muse. Let your mind wander, freely exploring all the possibilities you have buried deep within yourself.

A lot of it is junk. Sure. But, oh, the things you can do with it!

FOLLOW YOUR MUSE TODAY AND EXPLORE NEW IDEAS — THROW A FEW INTO YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS. YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN ONE MIGHT BE JUST WHAT YOU NEED!

SHOWCASE: Author D’Ann Lindun

About D’Ann Lindun

D'Ann LindunI first discovered D’Ann Lindun’s romance novels when she appeared as a guest blogger here at Time for Love. I was fascinated by her childhood memories of growing up in the mountains of Colorado.

Autumn and Childhood

After reading about her family background, I knew I’d enjoy her books. Even though I read — and write — historical romance, I love anything with a western flair. With D’Ann’s own experience with the western way of life, I knew her stories would have a true “personal touch”.

She’s a prolific author, with nearly a dozen titles to her name. I began with her latest release, Ride a Falling Star and was quickly caught up in the excitement of the story.

Other books by D’Ann Lindun include:

The Cowboy’s Baby

Cooper’s Redemption

Promise Me Eden

Sunny Days Ahead

A Cowboy to Keep

Rodeo Man

Desert Heat

Shot Through the Heart

Vaquero

Wild Horses

Well done, D’Ann!

Her story as a writer began when she fell in love with romance novels the summer before sixth grade. She says she never thought about writing a novel of her own, however, until she took a how-to class at her local college many years later. After that, she never looked back.

Her stories are about cowboys and the women who love them. D’Ann likes writing romance because she finds it satisfying to write a book “guaranteed to have a happy ending.”  She draws inspiration from her home in Western Colorado where she and her husband have been sharing their own “happily ever after” for twenty-nine years.

From Christina: D’Ann loves to hear from readers. You can reach her through email at dldauthor@frontier.net. You’ll also find her blogging at D’Ann Lindun, and on Facebook at DLindunAuthor

Her latest romance, The Cowboy’s Baby, from Crimson Press, is now available at Amazon.

The Thanksgiving that Almost Wasn’t by Karen McCullough

Holidays should be fun, but sometimes… well, here’s Karen’s story. 

The Thanksgiving that Almost Wasn’t

by Karen McCullough

 Three years ago, my youngest daughter was married on November 20th, which was the Saturday before Thanksgiving that year. Weddings are always memorable and this one was no exception. Sarah was a beautiful bride and her new husband a very proud groom. The weather was perfect. It was one of those rare, mild days that sometimes happens in late fall in North Carolina. The whole thing went off without a hitch. The day was perfect.

 

Marriage

Well, almost. We didn’t find out just how not-perfect it was until the next day when the bride, and about two-thirds of the other people who’d been at the wedding woke up horribly sick. I was fortunate that I wasn’t, but my husband, older daughter, the bridesmaids, groomsmen, and a lot of others were all miserably nauseated. Fortunately, it only lasted about 24 hours, but it seemed a lot longer to them.

We initially suspected food poisoning, but later events suggested it was actually a fast-moving and nasty virus. (We’ll get to that.)

The bride was so sick that by nightfall she was at the hospital and spent most of the night there getting intravenous fluids. The doctor who cared for her was the first to suggest a virus was the likely culprit. Sadly the honeymoon had to be cancelled. There were a few bright spots, however.

Because their flight wasn’t until Monday, the newlyweds had booked a room at a local Bed and Breakfast for the night. Fortunately for them, the B&B wasn’t crowded so the proprietors let them stay when it was clear the new bride was in no shape for a long airplane flight. They were extremely nice and accommodating, even bringing them tea, toast, and sodas.

Meanwhile, the sick people recovered and we thought we were beyond it, when a second wave hit. The groom, myself, my son, and most of the others who hadn’t gotten sick initially were all ill by Wednesday. Oddly, none of us were as drastically sick as the first wave of people had been, but it was still no fun at all. It was that second wave that convinced everyone it had been a virus.

And though I was over the worst of it by Thursday morning, the last thing I felt up to doing was cooking a big Thanksgiving feast. I had to tell everyone I couldn’t do dinner.  But both daughters were fully recovered by then and since the new bride hadn’t managed to get away for the honeymoon, the girls got together and cooked up a nice dinner for all us. Some of us, myself included, weren’t really eating normally yet, but I managed a bite or two of everything.

And because we weren’t sure Thanksgiving would even happen that year, we were particularly grateful when it did. And despite all the illness, we felt very blessed by the lovely wedding and the unexpected presence of the bride and new son-in-law at the Thanksgiving feast.

Karen McCullough is a web designer by profession, and the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres as well. She has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, four grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years. She’s released two short Halloween/Fall related stories this past month, and her Christmas Vampire story — “A Vampire’s Christmas Carol”  — is now available.

You can find Karen at her website and blog: Karen McCullough or you can connect with her through Facebook or Twitter.

 

Writing the Story of Your Life

Everyone needs a little inspiration from time to time. As a writer, I sometimes joke about inspiration, as in this E-Card I created:

Inspiration by Noon

Of course, as a writer, I actually know better than to sit around waiting for inspiration. I’ve learned to create my own.

We live in a world of inspiration. We have only to look at the beauty around us to find moments of breath-taking wonder and awe. We can draw inspiration, too, from the words of others — words of love, encouragement, strength, and determination.

Each day, I come to my little writing room, I sit down, and I tell stories. I write about people who’ve come into my head, about their lives, their struggles, their dreams, and ultimately, their triumphs and happy endings. They are imaginary people, yet they’ve become my friends. They’ve whispered in my ear, sharing the stories of their lives and loves.

In many ways, each of us is an author. You might not write fiction, but you are writing a story — the story of your life.  With that idea in mind, I began browsing a bit.

I found this inspiring thought:

 

These are powerful words to remember. It’s up to us to create the life we wish to lead, up to us to develop our character, discover our strengths, and find the healing power of love. We can’t allow others to take control, to determine how our story ends.

Many of the ideas and principles I use in writing romance novels can apply as well to the art of writing our own life story.

All  stories begin with characters.  In fiction, good characters are imperfect; they have flaws. Yet they also possess a fundamental goodness. They make mistakes, but they do know the difference between right and wrong. They may be reluctant to reach out, but still, they do care about others.

In fiction, it’s important for an author to fully develop the main character. This means finding those flaws, helping the character acknowledge his or her weaknesses, and most of all, guiding the character through a process of transformation. Character development means finding strengths, too, and showing the character how to draw upon them, how to find courage and faith, how to love, and how to trust.

Often in writing a story, I find myself getting tangled up in lots of clever little sub-plots. At least, that’s how they first appear. Later, I realize they’re not so clever after all. They’ve taken the focus of the story away from what’s really important. They’ve created unnecessary complications for my main character. They’ve led me — and my characters –down pathways that go nowhere. There’s nothing of value to be found at the end.

In our own lives, we also get tangled up in awkward situations, wrapped up in worries that don’t rightly belong to us, and caught up in other people’s drama. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be there to support our friends and family during troubling times. I am saying that we need to maintain the proper perspective and draw lines when needed. Allowing ourselves to be swallowed up in another’s misery isn’t helping anybody. Not them. Not us.

Often, I submit scenes or chapters of stories I’m working on to the IWW — the Internet Writing Workshop — for critiques from other members. In return I read their submissions and offer my thoughts. We all like to think our prose is thrilling, our stories exciting, and our style so enthralling that readers will be unable to put down our book. As we’re writing, that’s how it feels. Thrilling. Exciting. Absolutely enthralling. But, it’s not.  I’ve written my share of dull, boring scenes. It’s important to catch them, revise them, or take them out of the story altogether. I think it was Sam Clemens who once said:

Writing is life…with the dull parts taken out.

Take out the dull parts in your life story. Life is short, and each day is precious. Make the most of every moment. 

Remember, too, that your life story will include conflicts and complications. In the tales I tell, my characters must encounter opposition. It’s how they grow, how they learn, how they discover the best within themselves. In the same way, each of us can learn from our past experiences and create a better future.

 

Much of my story-planning involves finding the way to happiness for my characters. I don’t like to begin writing until I know how the story will end. Love stories — at least, the old-fashioned variety that I write — always have happy endings. No matter how difficult the struggles, how far the characters have had to journey, how hard they’ve had to fight, they will find a way to triumph in the end.

Their happiness, however, isn’t a matter of chance. Over the course of the story, they’ve learned lessons about life, they’ve opened themselves up to love and to be loved, they’ve made difficult choices, and they have proved that they deserve their happy ending.

In the same way, you can find happiness. You can begin today to give and receive more love, to make the right choices, to demonstrate your own self worth. You do deserve your happy ending.

Faith often plays a role, as well. In romantic fiction, it’s not really the hero who saves the heroine, or, when the situation is reversed, the brave heroine who rescues who hero. Oh, that may happen in the story, but even when it does, the hero and heroine — together — usually find themselves facing a bleak, black moment. It’s the point at which all appears lost.

But miracles happen. As often as not in romantic fiction, divine intervention saves the day. Hearts are changed. Old feuds are forgotten. Forgiveness is granted.

Life is filled with opportunities for little miracles. Develop a strong faith, find the power you believe in, and expect good things to happen. Do all you can, and when you find yourself facing those dark nights when despair sets in, draw upon that faith. Expect a miracle.

Remember, too, that heroes and heroines in love stories are filled with doubts. When responsibilities are thrust upon them, they don’t often feel adequate to the task. They worry about failing, about letting others down. They’re painfully aware of their weaknesses, and they fear that others are better, stronger, wiser, and far more capable.

We all have doubts. But love is a powerful force. Find it, give it to others, share it with the world.

Write your own love story and create a happy ending.