Triple Digits and no A/C do not a Christmas story make – Jill James

So, I sat down to start my Christmas story for the Authors of Main Street Collection and noticed that hot air was blowing on my face. Okay, I’m pretty sure that the air conditioner is supposed to blow, like, cold, you know!!

????????It was hard enough to get into a festive, holiday mood and writing a holiday story, when in Northern California it is still summer with sun, shorts, and swimming. So, on top of the triple-digit heat wave, the air conditioner decides to stop working–totally. Blowing nothing but hot air as I’m trying to imagine freezing temperatures and cute little winter hats with pom-poms. 🙂

Sitting at my desk, hoping for any breeze at all, and not even the glimmer of a story hits my brain. But wait!! A light bulb goes off. Turn it off, it is already too hot in here. I have the start of a jewel thief story with a Robin Hood motif. That will work.

Suddenly, my head explodes with Robin Cappington; a former thief with her dad, Little John. But he sits in prison and Robin now steals from the thieves to get back jewels the police can’t go after. Uncle Tucker cases the joints and is the detail man. And Ian Marr was the love of Robin’s life, until he turned on the gang and let her dad be left holding the bag. She could hate him if she didn’t still love him and need him for the next job: stealing back the Christmas Rose necklace from the deadly Taos gang.

My contribution to the collection will be the short novella, The Christmas Con.

Thankfully, the air conditioner was just broke for a day, the weather has shifted into what passes for Autumn here; it is in the high 80’s this week, and the story is coming together.

Before you know it I’ll be humming Jingle Bells as I work. 😀

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Jill James, writer of contemporary and paranormal romance
Coming Soon: Love in the Time of Zombies

A Day of Remembrance

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I’m betting we all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing on 9/11/2001 at 8:46 a.m. I was at home, busily writing while my husband was at work, my youngest daughter was at boarding school in Dallas, and my youngest son was still asleep upstairs. I didn’t know about the attack right away because I didn’t have the TV on and I didn’t have Facebook at that time. It wasn’t until people in my writer’s groups on Yahoo started posting about it that I learned what had happened. I spent the next couple of hours glued to the television and trying to reach my husband.

He was out on a concrete job and didn’t have a cell phone, so I couldn’t get a hold of him. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer and I headed for Dallas, driving way faster than I should have, to pick up my daughter. There were reports that Dallas might also be targeted and I wanted her home with us. All the way there, I cried and prayed for those affected, not knowing my own niece was just blocks away, headed for the WTC, at the time it happened.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have pulled my daughter out of school for two days, but like most of the rest of the nation I felt a little panicked and very much shaken. After I got her home, I sat down and poured my emotions out in a poem. That poem ended up in our local newspaper, sponsored by most of the businesses in our small town, in a full page spread.

Today, as we remember those who were lost and those who so bravely fought to save them, here is that poem. Let us never forget.

Freedom 911

A moment forever frozen in time

In all of our hearts and all of our minds

As we watched with horror what a few evil men

Can do with hatred and evil intent.

So many emotions filled us that day

Stunned disbelief, anguish, anger, and pain.

Our minds as clouded as New York’s city streets

We could only pray and tremble and weep.

We waited for news of loved ones so dear

And listened to stories of bravery and fear.

We cried with the mothers and fathers and wives

We grieve for the children who want to know why.

How can we answer their questions when we,

as adults never dreamed how evil mankind could be?

So we hold our own close, so glad they are safe

And ask God to surround them with angels each day.

Then we lift our heads high and stand firm and tall

As we proclaim to the world that our country won’t fall.

We stand united, red, black, white and brown.

And say you can’t keep America down.

We’ll see these men punished for what they have done,

No stone left unturned till we’ve found every one.

We’ll pray for our soldiers as they fight and they win,

Then we’ll put it behind us and build once again.

But we’ll never forget the ones who were lost

in airplanes and buildings, we’ve counted the cost.

We’ll mourn and grieve the heroes once more,

and emerge even stronger than ever before.

God bless America, this land of the free

May you always reign righteous and always believe

In the Almighty God who holds us upright

And ever continue, for our freedom, to fight.

Tori

Random Advice from Mom on Marriage and Housekeeping

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My nephew once said that weddings and funerals are pretty much the same thing. In both cases, someone moves on (or out) and we never see them again. In general, I disagree with my nephew, but I do agree that weddings, funerals, and baby blessings all mark the beginning of a new life stage. I just dropped off my girls at college and I’m still trying to find my feet in this new life stage.

 

This morning while looking for the first novel I ever wrote (which my husband describes as the one where someone fell out of a tree— I came across a letter I wrote to my daughter shortly before her marriage. Because I was Relief Society president at the time and super busy, one Sunday I ended up using the letter for a lesson. (I think a teacher cancelled at the last moment, I’m not sure. This wasn’t appropriate, I’m not saying that anyone should do this, ever, but I’m admitting that I did.) I received all sorts of feedback on my lesson, and since it obviously struck a chord in my womens’ group, and since my darling Nathan is marrying Shirley, I thought I’d share it again. I called it Random Advice from Mom to Bethany on Marriage and Housekeeping.

 

Here are some of some things that I wish someone had told me 31 years ago.

 

Be unfailing cheerful. It’s actually a commandment from God. There’s almost an entire page of scripture references in the Bible’s topical guide that tell us to rejoice. Did you know that sadness was originally one of the seven deadly sins? Sins were ranked in order of seriousness: pride, envy, anger, sadness, avarice, gluttony and lust. It wasn’t until the 7th century that slothfulness replaced sadness. (I think it’s interesting that gluttony made the list before lust and that brings me to my second bit of advice.)

 

Never let your fridge become a science experiment. Clean it out once a week, preferably on trash day or the night before. This is so you won’t have rotting food and vermin rooting through your trash. (Which leads me to–)

 

Always have food in your house. It will prevent you from visiting the local fast food joint—which is often expensive, unhealthy and really not any faster than many things you can make at home. Learn to make double portions and freeze half for another, busy day. Make friends with a crock pot. Always have eggs and cheese—both will keep for a long time and omelets are filling. (Which leads me to–)

 

Go grocery shopping once a week. Make a menu and a list. Impulse buying can wreak havoc on your budget. Running to the store for milk can end up costing $50 and an hour you didn’t want to spend. Go regularly and if possible, alone. When the twins were little, I went at 5:30 a.m. It was just easier.

 

Have a cleaning schedule. For example, I clean my kitchen and pick up (this means I wander through the house putting things away and gathering trash) every day. I vacuum and dust on Monday and Wednesday. I do laundry and mop on Tuesdays and clean bathrooms on Thursdays. I grocery shop and do yard work on Fridays. Having a schedule simplifies my life and having a plan keeps me sane. Knowing that something will get done, maybe not today, but soon, relieves guilt.

 

Be nice to your neighbors, even the disagreeable ones. You will need a Mary and a Judy. Don’t upset them by being loud, messy or picky about where they park their cars. Lend them whatever they need. Accept that everyone has different definition of neighborly and many won’t be interested in you or your family. A rare few may even go out of their way to be rude—that’s their issue—don’t take it personally and try and stay out of their space.

 

Pray as a family at meal time and always have at least one meal together as a family. Be as committed to this as you are to brushing your teeth. Even when Dad worked in LA and didn’t get home until after seven, we waited for him and ate dinner as a family.

 

Pray daily as a couple. Dad and I take turns and alternate annually. For example, this year Dad prays on all the odd days and I pray on the even days.

 

Always love and respect your in-laws—even when you don’t. They play an important role in your life. Embrace them, learn from them, accept them. Maybe you’ll vow to never be like them—that’s okay. They can still teach you lessons worth learning. Your in-laws can’t be avoided or removed (unless they’re dangerous to your children.)

 

Be generous and hospitable. Saint Paul tells us–Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2

Open your home to everyone and their dog. This will be a great blessing in your life.

 

Have your own friends and invest the time needed to maintain friendships. Encourage Brandon to have his own friends and interests. Don’t ever speak badly of Brandon to your friends and don’t listen to your friends complain about their husbands. If you have a problem with Brandon, talk to Brandon. If that doesn’t work (and sometimes it won’t) talk to God. You’ll be prompted where to turn for help and solutions.

 

Have a set time for daily scripture study and exercise. Make and keep goals for both of these important daily activities. Don’t skip meals and don’t overeat. Sleep as much as you need—not more, not less.

 

And be happy. Rejoice. Remember, it’s a commandment.

Christmas in September

Our Snowman from last year!

Our Snowman from last year!

Yesterday it was 70 degrees outside and I was reworking….um I mean polishing….a Christmas novella. Writers often go back and forth in time and tell stories in many formats, but I have to say sitting outside in a lounge chair with an ice tea and sunscreen on, did make it a little hard to get into the groove of snow and Christmas. But I pressed on, as any professional would! 🙂

My Christmas novella picks up life in Pennsville Station where my hero and heroine from What If… live. It is appropriately titled, What If…This Christmas. Some time has passed and we get to take a look at what is and isn’t happening between Katie and Chris. It’s always fun to revisit old friends. My characters always live on with me and this has been a nice opportunity to catch up and add more to their life, outside my head.

The opportunity to  came about because The Authors of Main Street have decided to put together, what I am sure will be an amazing, box set of Christmas stories of varying lengths. There is an excitement in the air on this blog for sure. The group is working hard to make a very special collection for our readers. They will be funny and charming, some romantic and others just heart warming. The kind of box set you can gift to a favorite reader in your life and give them something to cozy up and read, when it’s actually cold and possibly snowing outside. I am really excited to be a part of it and we will have more information on a release date and cover reveal coming up soon!

In the meantime I will finish polishing and getting my piece of this collection ready for all of you this Christmas. There was some rain today, which helped me get into the mood a bit more. I am so excited to be with my friends Chris and Katie again, if you had the chance to read about them I hope you are looking forward to hearing about their life now and if you haven’t now is a good chance to check them out, as the book is on sale for $2.99 on kindle.

Let us know what you think about holiday themes and when you want to start reading about Christmas or Valentines Day, etc.  We always love to hear what our readers enjoy. Thanks as always for stopping by, I can’t believe it’s been another month already…or that it’s close enough to Christmas to be putting out a boxed set. 

 

Kelly Rae Book Cover

Debut Contemporary Romance Novel

Click here for Amazon Kindle Version What If… and here for Barnes and Noble Nook Version What If….

 

New Time Travel Romance Release

 

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????It’s been a while, but I’ve finally released my new book Kiss Me, I’m Yours–the second in the three-book series Tennessee Waltz (book one is Kiss Me, I’m Irish). 

The first book in the series, Kiss Me, I’m Irish, was about a girl from the past brought to the present? Kiss Me, I’m Yours is about a woman from the present waking up in the past.

When jilted Sophie Bowen stumbles into a stone circle filled with fireflies, she wakes up in a very different place—and time. 

Beaten down by Lincoln’s War and personal tragedy, Gabriel Merritt feels his life has become a lost cause.  In a post-war South still licking its wounds, Sophie and Gabriel struggle to understand the place they each find themselves in, while fighting a war of attraction.

And a mysterious twelve-year-old girl just might hold the key to it all. 

 Book three, Kiss Me, I’m Home (with some sideways time-travel action), will be out early 2014 if it kills me.

Get it for 99 cents for a limited time!

 

 

It’s September!

Oh my, it’s September. That means the children go back to school. My school days are over. My youngest grandchild is in her senior year of high school. That makes me feel old! But I’m not old. In fapencilsct, her mom graduated only a few years ago – well, it seems that way. I also have no idea who that person is in the mirror. That’s not me. I can’t have children older than I am. A dear friend said when you reach a certain age you are young enough to do anything you please and too old to do anything that you no longer want to do. That’s me!

So why does September seem like the start of a new year? Fall is that time when you go back to school, make new friends, and see old ones. It’s the start of the school year and that seems programmed into us. Outside, Mother Nature is starting to shut down for the winter. Those cooler temps are welcomed. I love the switch from summer clothes to pretty sweaters and snuggly, fuzzy, warm things. But September around here is usually too soon to really switch. Just keep a sweatshirt or sweater handy for a cool evening.

As my asters bloom here, my friends down-under are seeing crocuses. I wonder what it would be like to live with the seasons switched. Which does bring me to a pet peeve; fall is a wonderful time to grow certain veggies here such as lettuce. Try to find lettuce seeds this time of year! I’ve learned to buy them in the lettucespring and put the packets in the refrigerator. I can grow lettuce all winter long if I’m careful. Talk about IPM! The normal bugs that attack lettuce aren’t chewing holes in the leaves in December. A cold night will kill it so I have to be watchful and cover my lettuce or bring it inside. I’ve taken to growing it in hanging baskets from shepherds’ hooks. Then I can drape a big plastic trash bag over the whole thing on a cold night. We tend to only get a few nights where it gets super cold.

It’s also time for fall housekeeping. I need to hit every closet, but I glovesdon’t have time to do it. I promised myself I’d get the surfaces clean and that I’d deep clean my kitchen. Just how many hours does it take to clean a dirty house? I don’t want to think about it, but I’m determined to get it done in the next two weeks.

September also holds a special place in my heart for every September is the local county fair. I love the fair! I’ve been part of it now for twenty years. I was one of those original people who said we can do this. I’ve watched it grow from a tiny fair to what it is today. And over the years my role with the fair has changed. I promise, it’s a real county fair with chickens and goats, and Ferris FairWheels, and great entertainment. It’s the kind of place to bring the children and grandparents. We celebrate our agricultural heritage. I love it and we work very hard to keep it the way it should be. So if you are anywhere near Virginia, come visit! You’ll find me behind the camera lens, looking official as the Fair’s photographer. That means I’m probably dirty, thirsty, and wearing a big smile, especially if I’m anywhere near the bull ring. Who doesn’t love a bull rider? And as for our farmers, you couldn’t meet a nicer bunch of people. http://www.thefairiscoming.com

Oh and the other thing is I’m an author. With luck, I’ll be announcing two new books next month. Historical westerns – I’m so A Snowy Christmas in Wyomingexcited! And the diary that was mentioned in A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming will be available before Christmas. I hope everyone loves it because I’ve poured my soul into it. It starts in the late 1840’s and goes until the 1880’s. The Coleman family would have been one of the earliest settlers in Wyoming. It wasn’t easy for them.

I think we all have these grand ideas of what it must have been like to do something like that. My research has proven that I probably would not have survived. I think I would have fallen apart under the stress. I can freak over a spider. I can’t imagine living in a sod house or a tiny, wooden one that didn’t have insulation. No contact with the outside world for weeks and weeks. Nope! Not for me.

And for the really big news! The Authors of Main Street are putting together a special Christmas collection of wonderful, heart-warming, romantic stories all boxed up for your Christmas reading. So watch the side bar at the top of this page for its announcement! Ten books of varying lengths from lunchtime reading to a nice long weekend, and that bundle should be available in November.

September marks the beginning of the fall season. I might not be busy with back-to-school stuff, but I’m probably busier than I’ve ever been in my life. I will admit that I walked past all those school supplies and admired the new spiral bound notebooks. The colors and glitz – amazing! Do the students still use them?

Everything is going computerized. They don’t teach cursive anymore. Keyboarding matters. They get that in first grade. It makes me wonder if they will quit teaching subjects such as spelling.

Will this new generation grow up knowing how to communicate on ereadersomething other than a touch screen? Will all spelling be reduced to a note hand of acronyms and dropped vowels? And what will that do for books? Will people still write them? How? I can’t imagine a life without books. I don’t mind if the paper goes away, but please let the written word continue!