Fun with Photos

I love finding places where you can play with photos for blog posts and Facebook posts. Thanks, The Book Designer for telling me about It is so simple to use. This took literally 10 seconds to make and upload:

There are all kinds of pictures there to use and add your photos (or book covers, for authors). Or just a little holiday fun. Enjoy!!

Jill James
author of In My Dreams, one of the stories of Christmas Wishes on Main Street

Family Holiday Traditions

It is that time of year again…holidays with the family! Time for all the remembered foods. Time for all the remembered traditions. But…

Sometimes traditions have to change. People move away and it is harder to get together. Dinner that used to be at six o’clock has to move to brunch at noon or a late dinner at nine to accommodate work schedules. Opening presents has to happen on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning so that everyone can be there. Still…

The feelings. The happiness. The excitement remains the same. The family is together, hopefully, and the fun can commence.

My favorite part of Christmas is reminiscing of holidays past. Thinking of where you got a favorite ornament as you put it on the tree. Laughing about the Turkey Fiasco of ’87 as you are working in the kitchen. Baking cookies with mom’s recipe handed down from her grandmother. Sitting around the dinner table and talking about the shared memories of the past year.

My favorite memory: Every year my mom, my brother, and I would make Christmas cookies. Making cookies with kids is fun but messy. We made sugar cookies, butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and more.  My mom had numerous slips of paper from magazines and handwritten notes from relatives in her cookbook. Some years we tried new recipes and sometimes we just did the usual. Sometimes the new recipes worked and got added to the cookie making day. Sometimes they failed spectacularly and we laughed as we tried terrible tasting cookies and tossed them and moved on. Making cookies in our household was a day-long event. Meals were fitted in between putting cookies in, taking them out, and letting them cool.

But one thing was a guarantee each year. My mom would wear black pants. And by the time we were finished they would be covered with flour handprints. And every year she would swear to remember not to wear them next year. As I spend another Christmas missing my mom, I would give anything to be baking cookies and laughing at her flour-printed black pants.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Jill James, romance writer and lover of cookies!

Seasonal Reading

I love to read Christmas romances just before the holidays. Love, romance, and holly and green. Writers like Grace Burrowes can lavish you with Regency holidays. The balls. The gowns. The dashing men under the mistletoe. Ahhh! I can spend a whole day in a snowy English wonderland.



In the summer I love to read adventure tales. I binge on Andy McDermott, James Rollins, Dan Brown, Brad Thor, and Jonathan Maberry. The lure of other lands, of larger-than-life heroes and heroines is an easy way to escape the heat of summer. I am not an outdoors kind of girl. Give me a corner of the couch, a good book, and a glass of iced tea and I’m good to go for several hours.


Do you find your reading follows the calendar? Do you only read Christmas stories during the holidays or beach reads during the summer? Or do you branch out and read whatever strikes your fancy?

Jill James, writer and reader

working on Christmas novella: names and title still a work in progress. 🙂

“Real” Moms and Their Kids

me and my babies09182014

Me and my babies too many years ago

“I don’t think she misses those kids at all. They weren’t her real kids, you know. They were adopted. You can tell she never loved them–not the way she loves the kids she had naturally with her new husband.”

This statement was uttered by a coworker yesterday regarding the long-ago breakup of a celebrity couple and the subsequent fallout to their children’s relationship with Mom due to Dad’s involvement in a religious cult.  

There are a lot of times I have to zip my lip or run to the ladies room to bang my head against a hard surface during the day job. My brow is still throbbing after this one.

I’m fortunate that I know all kinds of mothers, and let me assure you the giving birth aspect of motherhood has nothing to do with the love any of them have for their children. Every one of them is a real mother who considers all of her children her “real” children. It doesn’t matter if these are natural children of the parents, adopted children, foster children, grandchildren they’re caring for, or…yes…furbabies. Take it from me. No one spends years cleaning up poop and puke, dabbing bloody knees, gushing over dandelion bouquets, worrying about missed curfews, and comforting broken hearts because there’s nothing decent on television. You do it out of love: deep, unconditional, abiding love. 

A real mother is emotionally invested in every one of her children. She does not have less love for one than another. She loves all her children equally, but uniquely. What do I mean by uniquely? Just as each child is an individual, a real mom’s love reflects that same level of individuality. She’ll know, and be able to recite in the blink of an eye, her children’s flaws and gifts. She can tell you which one is gullible, which one is the leader, which one feels too deeply, and/or which one is the creative dreamer. She knows their likes and dislikes, can name her children’s best friends, favorite activities, the meals they dislike, their best and worst school subjects. When one of her children hurts, there’s no difference in the measurement of her empathy based on the circumstances of their birth. When one of her children makes her happy, she couldn’t care less if she carried that one inside her for nine months. The real mother is proud of all her children’s triumphs, commiserates with their disappointments. Real moms are human. Sometimes, they make mistakes. But the depth of their love is never one of them. 

This Sunday, here in the States, we’ll honor those real moms for all they’ve done for us. To celebrate, I’ve placed my Calendar Girls novella, CHARMING FOR MOTHER’S DAY, on sale for 99 cents for ten days, beginning today. This holiday story introduces readers to the town of Snug Harbor, where all my Calendar Girls stories take place. Colin Murriere has returned to Snug Harbor, the winning chef from a reality cooking show, ready to win back the girl he left behind. Lucie Soto’s life took a downward spiral when Colin broke up with her after a summer fling years ago. Now a single mom struggling to maintain a normal life, Lucie wants nothing to do with him or his dreams of a shining future. But her daughter, Ariana, an expert on fairy tales, knows Prince Charming when she sees him and will stop at nothing to bring these two their Happily-Ever-After.

Charming Promo

Happy Mother’s Day to all the real moms. It may not always seem like it, but we know we’re the luckiest kids in the world because you’re ours!

Our First Christmas

Life is full of firsts – first step, first day of school, first car, first job. But there is something magical in a couple’s first Christmas, a first Christmas as a family. Ours was 1988. We were engaged Christmas of 1987, married June 1988, and had our first Christmas as a family in December 1988. My daughter Jennifer was 7 years old.

We so wanted to make it special for our new, blended family, so we found Disneyland’s Main Street playset at Sears. It was enormous and one of Jen’s favorite spots in the world.

disney-main-streetOkay, looking back, we should have left it in the box and worked on it with her as a family, but we were young and excited. So we decided to put it together on Christmas Eve after she was asleep and surprise her with it in the morning. Big mistake!!

It took hours to put the buildings together, glue stuff to the big plywood base, and set it all up. We finally finished about 4:00 AM. You parents out there can guess what happened next…Jen work up at 6:00 AM, excited to see her presents and open them. LOL

We were exhausted and dragged butt all day, but it was a magical Christmas, our first as a new family. A child’s excitement for the season makes it all worthwhile. Let’s all take a little of that childish glee and absorb it this holiday season. Enjoy each magical moment and make some memories with your loved ones.

My story Waking Up for Christmas in our boxed set Christmas at the Inn on Main Street is all about the magical wishes for the joy of Christmas. With the help of a cheerful innkeeper and her young grandson, Nick, Chase will find our if wishes do come true.

   He would have spent the past weeks eating hospital cafeteria food and fast food on the go if not for Mrs. Macgregor and her home cooking. He stepped into the empty dining room as Mrs. Macgregor’s grandson Nick came out of the kitchen with platters of food.
   The young man had a permanent smile on his freckle-covered face, as if sadness was unknown for Nick Macgregor. He had the bright-red hair to go along with those freckles, as well. “Just in time, Mr. Thanos. Get it while it’s hot.”
   “I’ve told you, you can call me Chase.”
   “No, sir. Nana would take me out to the woodshed,” he said, his smile growing wider to let him know Nick was kidding. “If we had a woodshed.”
   Chase looked around the room. “Where is everyone?”
   Nick rubbed his chin. “Well, the Peterson’s left yesterday afternoon.”
   Chase sighed in relief. The Peterson twins had been running up and down the hallways and yelling at the top of their lungs the last few days. He wouldn’t miss them at all.
   “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson had to leave in the middle of the night and head home for an emergency,” Nick continued. “And Mr. Olivera is packing now and leaving shortly.”
   “So, that just leaves me?”
   “Yep.” Nick smiled at him. “Just you through Christmas.”
   Another reminder the holidays were right around the corner. The touches of red and green around the room snagged his attention. A set of lighted houses sat across the buffet behind the platters of food. The same set Darcy had collected during the years of their marriage; a new house for each Christmas they’d spent together. The same set he’d found in the trash the last Christmas they’d spent together.
   A clear spot sat in front of the bay window. Chase pointed. “For the tree?”
   Nick nodded, his thick hair sweeping across his forehead. “I’m getting it tonight. Nana makes a big production out of decorating it. Tells a story for each ornament we put on the tree.”
   All he could do was nod. He didn’t trust his voice not to crack with emotion. Darcy did the same thing. A story of getting an ornament. She remembered where and when they’d gotten each one. This one on a trip. This one from a relative. That one from a friend.
   He moved over to the buffet and placed a spoonful of each item on his plate. His chest ached at the thought of shoveling food into his mouth. Telling himself he had to eat to stay healthy for Darcy helped, but not enough.
   As if Nick could read his thoughts, the young man grabbed a plate, filled it, and sat down beside him. “Hope is a powerful thing.”
   “What?” Chase said, his fork halfway to his mouth with scrambled eggs.
   “Hope. With hope, anything is possible. Your wife is still there. You just have to reach her and give her a reason to come back.”
   “She’s in a coma.”
   “Doesn’t mean she can’t hear you.” Nick said, wiping his plate clean and pushing his chair back.
   He reached over and placed a hand on Chase’s shoulder and squeezed. “Tell her why she needs to come back.”
   Gathering his plate, Nick walked across the room and disappeared into the kitchen. He heard mumblings as he talked to his grandmother and then the clink of dishes being washed. Chase forced himself to finish eating even though the delicious food was tasteless as he was lost in thought.
   Give her a reason to come back.
   He straightened in his seat. He could do that.

Enjoy the Christmas spirit with 5 sweet, exquisite tales of the holidays. Christmas at the Inn on Main Street is available as an eBook and in print from Amazon.

Season’s Greetings and Wonderful Memories, Jill

Veterans Day


Image courtesy of start08 at

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia–

Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors military veterans; that is, persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. It coincides with other holidays, including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I; major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The United States previously observed Armistice Day. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who died while in military service.[1]

Whether you commemorate Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, or remember Armistice Day–honor the sacrifices of the few for the many.