Happy Holidays y Que le Vaya Bien!


I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, filled with the people you care about most in the world. If you couldn’t be with them, I hope they were in your heart.

My youngest son, my partner, and I are far from our New Zealand home… in Fort Worth, Texas. We had quite a different Thanksgiving holiday. Matthew had never had one, being from the UK and then NZ, and my son Elliot has only had what I could cobble together in New Zealand for the traditional dinner. For me, this was my first one in a restaurant! 

Luckily we booked a few days in advance and actually found a restaurant with room for us which did a non-yuppie thanksgiving feast. I ate too much… once again. I could seriously have done without the pumpkin cheesecake.  I ate it like it was pie…but it was far from that… being mostly cream. A few miles’ walk back to our hotel helped considerably.

 

The dinner was spectacular and afterwards, the entertainment was hysterical…some people at the next table had their turkey hats on…complete with gobbling and wriggling legs.

Last week, we enjoyed some great Southern hospitality in San Antonio, where we exhibited our Equi-Still Portable Equine Stocks at the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) Convention last weekend.  6000 equine vets all in one place! This was just one lecture!

The stocks are pretty versatile….here’s our smallest visitor to the booth!   

We headed out east three times to eat at Taqueria Los Dos Laredos Mexican restaurant where few spoke English. The best kind.  Plus, I got to practice my rusty Español. 🙂

We stayed at the historic Menger Hotel, established and in operation since 1859. Carriage horses from the Lollypop Carriage Company waited right outside

and the Alamo is across the street! Right up my alley. 🙂

I’ve had a week off from writing, but after publishing three books so far this year, I guess that’s okay.  Plus, I’ve been accumulating new stories…

I hadn’t known the history of the Alamo before, but “Battle for Texas” in the mall nearby gave much more detail on it than was even present at the Alamo site itself.

I’m already ruminating on how to include it in one of my upcoming stories…maybe in one of the novellas I’d like to write about Krzysztof’s life!  We’ll have to work on that one. 🙂 It’ll have to be heresay, as the Alamo fell in 1836 and the Galician Slaughter, the stimulus for Aleksandra’s father and mother leaving Poland, occurred in 1846. :/  That’ll take some thinking.

Today we visited the historic Fort Worth Stockyard Station. It was pretty cool.

Instead of tearing the old stockyards down, as often happens, they transformed much of the site into a tourist attraction, full of stores, restaurants, and wedding venues, with some of the old stock areas still in evidence. It’s lucky for people like me, who want to see those too!

Billy Bob’s famous honkey tonk/ dance hall is there, but as it was Thanksgiving today… well, everyone was home with their families. Few places were open. But that, too, I liked. We got to see the place without hordes of people!

Have a wonderful holiday, talk with you next month!

Hasta luego y que le vaya bien from the travellers!

Thanks for coming by!

xx

Lizzi

PS…

If you haven’t yet ordered your copy of Christmas Babies on Main Street, it’s available now!  Click here to get it now!

Hope you love the heartwarming stories therein. If you do, we’d love you to leave a review on Amazon!

Thanks again for visiting

xx

Lizzi

Guilty Pleasures by Joan Reeves

Guilty PleasuresI guess everyone has at least one guilty pleasure. Me? I have so many that I’ve categorized them. Today, I’m sharing my collection of guilty pleasures with you.

Sweets

Some people love ice cream. I can go for months without eating ice cream , pudding, cheesecake, or pie, but a warm blueberry muffin fresh out of the oven and slathered with butter just floats my boat. Frequency? Once in a blue moon.

Drinks

As long as I have my morning cup of Dunkin’ Donuts, I can leap tall buildings in a single bound. My liquid refreshments usually include said coffee, lots of water, and occasional iced teas. My downfall is Dr. Pepper and Coca Cola. I can’t even risk a single draw on the soda straw so I abstain completely. Usually. Frequency? Maybe once a month when I have my next guilty pleasure…

Fast Food

A Dr. Pepper is my beverage of choice with an A-1 Thick and Hearty Burger from Whataburger, a mostly Texas chain, or a Texas Burger, from the fast food restaurant of the same name, where the burgers are Angus beef from Nolan Ryan‘s ranch about 30 miles south of Houston. (For those who may not be baseball fans, Nolan Ryan is a Hall of Fame pitcher. Now retired, he raises Angus cattle.) Frequency: only when on a car trip.

Television/Movies

Television guilty pleasures come and go. Frequency: once a week in the summer for Ninja. The others, during the week in prime time season if there’s time. If there’s not, I DVR the shows at my country place and catch up when I’m up there.

Currently, these are on my radar:

American Ninja Warrior (If I were younger, I would totally go out for this.)

The Blacklist (Love the convoluted story lines that are all tied together.)

Criminal Minds (I like the characters interaction and growth over the years, the small relationship bits and the crime-solving process. Hate the on-screen sadistic details. Seriously. I wonder sometimes if sexual sadists watch these shows for vicarious thrills.

Blue Bloods (Hey, if Tom Selleck is in it, then it’s believable and likable. Great ensemble cast, good police procedural, and good character interaction in realistic situations.)

Fixer Upper (This HGTV design program is set in Waco, Texas, a relatively short drive from our country place. I love the rapport between Chip and Joanna, the married couple who fix up ordinary houses into spectacular, comfortable homes. I wish they’d come visit me in Houston and re-do my kitchen. )

Netflix, Amazon Prime, & Other Video Streaming

I’m just going to mention 2 old TV series that are binge-watching worthy: Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis. I’ve seen every episode several times, but I never get tired of this series that showed a woman who was intrepid, honorable, and never backed down. I’m talking about Col. Samantha Carter as portrayed in SG1 by Amanda Tapping. I’ve read that Carter is now a popular name for baby girls. I think all those mommies are Sam Carter fans. Frequency: when I’m in a funk and want to throw the computer out the window.

Books

I’m always so busy that reading itself has become a guilty pleasure. There’s just not enough time to read all the books in my To Be Read pile so I have to sneak a few minutes here and there.

Of course, a lot of readers might name romance novels as their guilty pleasure. If that’s you, then may I offer for your consideration, my romantic comedy Nobody’s Cinderella. In this contemporary comedy, Darcy Benton has a guilty pleasure: playing an old arcade game version of PacMan at her local supermarket. One night when she’s indulging in this favorite pastime and gets herself in quite a predicament.

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A crush on the boss; a wish on a star… Uh oh!

Nobody’s Cinderella is available at most ebook sellers including Amazon Kindle. It’s also available as an audiobook from Audible.

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives her “happily ever after” with her husband in the Lone Star State. Visit Joan at her Amazon Author PageSlingWords, her blog; and sign up for Wordplay, her email mailing list.

PRIORITIES

We traveled to the part of North Carolina, that rests in the foothills of the Appalachian, Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains, last weekend for a family reunion.

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Isn’t life all about family? I think so. Warmly greeting old friends, celebrating new life, renewing friendships with family we hadn’t seen in a while. Pausing for a quiet moment to celebrate our loved ones we were gifted to love and share their journey, who are no longer with us. We are blessed God loaned them to us. I can’t imagine not ever having them in my life.

Being in the mountains where the air is cleaner, cooler and stimulating, renews my spirit like no other. Okay, maybe the beach! So it’s a toss-up between the two. There’s such a different reaction though between the mountains and a beach, at least for me. Mountains restore that sensation of relaxation and oneness with nature. Enormous trees that whisper as the movement of breezes flow through them. Babbling brooks, and that child in you when you find a hidden trail you simply have to sneak away and follow, and then seek its ending.

The beach is invigorating. The moment I see the shimmer of the sun’s rays dance across the waves, my heart swells.

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I can’t wait to dig my toes in the sand, breath in the salty air, take an early morning walk and search out seashells. Children to build sand castles with. A long walk on the beach with a loved one.

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Waiting for the guys to come back from their fishing trip, catch in hand. We know there will be a huge fish fry in the future. Ahhh…there isn’t anything like the beach.

My newest book due out sometime in August or September 2015, LOVING LEXI, set in a small fishing Texas town, is a Contemporary Romance.

Here’s a short excerpt:

Tyler did his best to reject thoughts of the blonde haired, Lexi from his mind, but the push hadn’t helped. She lingered still. Her scent and beauty was still wrapped inside his head.

The fishing charter Tyler had taken out this morning had caught their limit before noon. He was thankful because the heat that bore down on them, even with the breezes, was unbearable. One young boy had gotten sick not long after they’d shoved off, but there was nothing he could do but make him comfortable. Later, he’d found out the boy had forgotten to take anything for motion sickness. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but one Tyler was accustomed to dealing with.

After he’d showered and changed, Tyler went in search of Lexi. She couldn’t be too hard to find in this town. He knew which car Ted had loaned her, so if she were still in town, that would make the search easier. Why he should care, hadn’t made any sense, because Lexi was none of his business, but he wanted to make sure she was doing okay. Why he sensed the need to protect her was none of his business either. But he did.

Tyler cranked the car, and flipped the air conditioner on high. Out of habit, he slid an Anne Murray CD in the player, and then adjusted the volume. Wouldn’t you know the first song would be his late wife’s favorite song, “Could I Have This Dance?” That old queasy plunge inside his stomach kicked in, and prompted him to tap off the CD.

It wasn’t bad enough that every waking moment filled him with her memories, but certain events sparked an unbearable state of mind. Her death had been over a year ago. So far nothing had eased the pain or helped him find some closure with her death. It was time he came to grips with her death. If only he didn’t feel so guilty that he’d taken her out on the boat that fateful day. The storm had come up so suddenly, the waves so high and ravaging, his wife was gone in an instant. Tyler sucked in a deep breath and let out slowly.

How he would accomplish ridding himself of the nightmares of that day, was beyond him. But he would. He prayed he could, for his own peace of mind. At times, the grief was unbearable. He wasn’t sure if he could endure a lifetime of merciless grief.

My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Diesel, Apple and Smashwords.

You can find links on my website for all My Books

Proud to be a Texan

This has been a very busy month so far, as have the last few months. I’m having a hard time keeping up with my blogging obligations, and ended up dropping one. And I almost forgot this one. Besides having family here, we’ve been hard hit with weather in the Dallas and East Texas areas.

I live in Tornado Alley, and this Spring things have been especially active. We’ve had rain nearly every day since the first of January. At the beginning of the year, we were in a serious drought. Today, some of our lakes are so full they’re having to release water to prevent flooding. (And we’re still flooded in some areas) That’s a big turnaround in only 4 1/2 months! Unfortunately, along with the rain, we often get lots of lightning, hail, high winds, and tornadoes.

Last Sunday (Mother’s Day) was a very rough day. Big storms all day long, lots of tornado warnings, and a few tornadoes touched down. I spent most of the day worried about my oldest daughter and her boys, as they were in one of the hardest hit areas. I stayed glued to the weather reports. By Sunday night, my home was in the bulls eye.

We were lucky. The storm split, with part going a bit west of us and the other part going a bit east of us. We got heavy rain and lightning, but that’s all. Just a couple of towns east, they weren’t so lucky. Tornadoes destroyed about 30% of the town of Van in Van Zandt County, TX. Two people were killed (a retired police officer and his wife), and more than two dozen seriously injured, some critically. The elementary and middle schools were so severely damaged that school has been cancelled for the remainder of the school year.

You can see video of the damage, courtesy of KLTV Channel 7

But Texans don’t go down without a fight. The outpouring of support has been amazing. They’ve had so much water and clothing donated that they’ve had to stop taking any more. There are volunteer sign up lists with huge numbers of people joining up, people offering everything from storage buildings to equipment to free meals, rescues gathering up loose pets to hold and get veterinary care for until their owners are able to reclaim them, and churches throwing their doors open wide to take in the displaced, feeding and clothing them and helping them get the services they need.

Yep, I’m proud to be a Texan. We might live in a dangerous spot, weather-wise, but we take care of our own.

Do you have a disaster plan in place? What would you do if something happened and you lost everything? It can happen without warning. Whether from a tornado, fire, flood, earthquake, hurricane, a disaster plan can help you stay alive. Did you know wearing a helmet during a tornado or hurricane could save your life? (A lot of people die of head injuries from flying or falling debris) Do you have extra water and canned food on hand for you and your pets? Do you have working flashlights or lanterns? Where would you and your family meet up if you got separated?

It’s important to have a plan, and to practice with your kids. It could save a life.

Come join me and author Jessie Evans this Friday from two to five Central time for a Facebook party celebrating small town Texas and Texas cowboys! We’ll be having contests and giving away prizes. https://www.facebook.com/JessieEvansRomance?ref=hl

Rookie justice meme 20001-48814190

 

Cinderella Blue: Romance and Cops by Joan Reeves

Cinderella Blue by Joan Reeves

Pre-Order now! Only 99cents On Kindle

In my new romantic comedy, Cinderella Blue, Love means never having to say, “You’re under arrest.”

Joan’ s March Giveaway

To be eligible to win the March Giveaway of a Swag Bag or an online gift card (gift varies based on delivery destination), leave a comment with your email address. Closes midnight March 31. Winner notified by email. Name posted in WordPlay, Joan’s email list.

Wow! I finally finished this book that I began working on in 2013. No, I’m not just abysmally slow. From the time I started updating this book which had been published about ten years ago in print, these are just a few of the…

Life Events That Happened

1. Sold our house. 2. Moved all the furniture into storage. 3. Moved to our weekend house in the country for the next 6 months. 4. Bought a townhouse in Houston. 5. Began 3 week remodeling project on townhouse. 3 weeks was the contractor’s timeline. 4. 15 weeks later, the 3-week remodeling was completed. 5. Moved all furniture out of storage and into townhouse. 6. Moved back to Houston and into townhouse. 7. Unpacked, arranged stuff, moved furniture around, etc. 8. Woke up one morning and could not raise my right arm without excruciating pain. 9. Went through 6 months of physical therapy, massage, pain meds, muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory meds, and learned all kinds of painful ways to stretch the trapezius muscles in my shoulders where nerves were pinched.

Yep, Life Sucks Sometimes

Little did I know that updating this book and bringing it back to its original length which had been cut by the editor all those years ago would require the patience of Job, months of persistence, and the will power of Gandhi. This romance saw more stops and starts than a freeway gridlock.

At times, I delighted in escaping the chaos around me by entering the Fictional World where I am the Master of Space, Time, and Dimension. (Mistress just sounds kind of funny.)

I see all and know all and can solve a character’s problems before dinner each night and give them a rousing happily ever after that will make a reader smile. Ah, if life were only like that.

About Cinderella Blue

In this book, I’ve done a bit of a flip-flop with character cliches. In most stories involving a cop hero, the cop avoids commitment at all costs. In Cinderella Blue, Detective Bruce Benton, first introduced in Nobody’s Cinderella, is commitment phobic, but so is Detective Andrea Luft.

I had fun solving Andie’s problems stemming out of her emotional baggage. Cinderella Blue is on sale for only 99cents during the pre-order period. The book releases March 31 so I hope you’ll take advantage of that and buy it before the price rises to $3.99.

Excerpt, Cinderella Blue

Heat shimmered in waves above the pavement. Across the street, Bruce Benton saw a cluster of shops that created one-stop shopping for women looking to drop a few grand on a pretentious wedding. He crossed the street and headed to the flower shop. As he passed the glass storefront of a photographer’s studio, he saw a woman inside. A nano second later, he stopped abruptly. The heat must be frying his brain. He retraced his steps, casually glancing in again. The woman wore a wedding dress, but instead of a bridal bouquet, she held a handgun.

Bruce drew his Glock and eased the door open. A bell over the door jingled. He cringed as he slipped inside. Maybe she was deaf. The woman whirled. Nope. Not deaf. She held her gun in the same shooter’s stance as he. “Take it easy, lady. Maybe the photographer took some lousy pictures of you. That’s no reason to shoot him.”

“That’s funny.” The blonde suddenly grinned, but her gun never wavered. “You’re cute. Anyone ever tell you that you look kind of like Karl Urban?”

“Let’s not talk about some Aussie actor. Let’s talk about you. Why would a sweet thing like you have a gun?”

“Sweet thing?” Irritation replaced her grin. “Lower your gun. Lay it on the floor.”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that. You see I’m a–”

Everything happened at once. A man rushed from behind her, slammed into her, and sent her flying into Bruce. They went down in a tangle of arms, legs, and miles of white satin. She came up snarling.

Bruce leaped up, gun in hand. “Freeze!”

He grinned and pulled out his handcuffs. “I always wanted to say that. Just like a TV cop. You lost your gun, sweet thing.”

He stepped toward her. With a snarl, she whirled. He saw a white blur and felt agony in his hand. A roundhouse kick to his solar plexus cut off his gasp of pain. He hit the floor. Wheezing, he tried to rise, but the blonde stood over him with her gun–and his–pointed at him.

She smiled. “Uh uh, sweet thing. You stay right where you are.”

Bruce groaned. Not from pain so much as humiliation. Crap. He’d never live this down.

Book Details

Available for Pre-order on Amazon Kindle. Only 99cents during this pre-order period. Prices rises to $3.99 on April 13.

(Joan Reeves writes Sassy, Sexy Contemporary Romance. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free newsletter for writers, and WordPlay, a free newsletter for readers. Find Joan online: Blog, Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. Joan lives her happily ever after with her hero, and she encourages you to believe that: It’s never too late to live happily ever after!)

Small Towns and Humor by Joan Reeves

The Trouble with Love by Joan ReevesI love small towns. Because I grew up in a small town, I know a lot about these unique communities — the social structure, the economics, and, most importantly, the people who live in small towns.

Favorite Setting

A small town is my favorite place to set a story, and many of my contemporary romance novels are set in small towns. Small towns are like characters in a book and give color and depth to the story.

Even though I spend the week in a townhouse in Houston, we have a country home too so I don’t lose touch with my roots, and I even subscribe to the weekly newspaper in the nearby town that has a population of 719. My goodness. That makes my hometown where I grew up look huge with its boasted population of 5,000+. I also subscribe to my hometown’s newspaper.

Homage to Leno and Carson

One of my favorite segments when Jay Leno and Johnny Carson were the stars of The Tonight Show was where they would read the unintentionally funny items from newspapers and advertisements sent in from viewers.

Never fear! Since I subscribe to 2 small town newspapers, I see funny stuff in print all the time. Of course, it’s not supposed to be funny!

I just about fell out of my chair yesterday when I read in one of those papers about the man who planted a bomb in his wife’s car. No, that wasn’t funny, but the comment from the Sheriff’s Department (deputy’s name withheld to avoid embarrassment) was.

The small town reporter asked the Deputy about the explosive device. The Deputy replied: “The explosive device did not explode, and we can’t tell whether it was homemade or not.”

Excuse me? Homemade or not? Are there stores that actually sell car bombs? I mean, aren’t all car bombs, by their very nature, homemade?

Life Is Just Different

The following isn’t particularly funny, but it’s so far removed from urban life as to appear amusing, and a bit endearing, if you’ve ever lived in the oil patch as my husband and I did when first married.

Sign on a restaurant: We deliver to surrounding oil fields.

And I don’t mean Domino’s or Pizza Hut.

Life really is different in rural and small town America. The people seem more patient and kinder. It’s almost as if there are stock characters, and every town is required to have its requisite number of them.

The pace is definitely more relaxed. My Romantic Comedy series Texas One Night Stands is all about small town life where you sneeze and someone across town says, “God bless you.”

To Sheriff’s Deputy Susannah Quinn, the heroine of The Trouble With Love, that’s suffocating. She’s tired of the town knowing everything about “poor little Susannah” and plans to escape as soon as she can. The only thing standing in her way is tall, dark, and too darn sexy for her own peace of mind.

In the second book of the series, Romeo and Judy Anne, high school principal Judy Anne Palmer is tired of being up on that pedestal of respectability. She kicks over the traces one night in Dallas. When her one-night lover shows up in her hometown, she’s afraid her night of passion will end up being the biggest scandal her little town has ever seen.

Both of these books, along with my others, are available at most ebook sellers; audio book editions are at Audible.com and iTunes.

Book 3 of Texas One Night Stands

Next month, I’ll begin writing a book that I’ve been salivating over! It’s the third book in the Texas series, Forever Starts Tonight.

Allison Platt, from The Trouble With Love, adores Alton County, Texas, where her cousin Hogan first met Susannah Quinn and where Allison hangs out a lot. Ten years ago, when she was 18, Allison was married and divorced. She says, “It was the usual case of ‘young and stupid’ —  I was young; he was stupid.” While traveling in Mexico, things go horribly wrong. Allison’s father recruits her ex, Donovan Platt, to bring her home.

Maybe I’ll have Allison deliver lunch to an oilfield while she’s hanging out in Alton County.

But Wait! There’s More!

Small towns? Like? Dislike? What do you think about books set in small towns? Leave a comment with your email address, and I’ll send you a coupon code for a free copy of Old Enough To Know BetterA woman with a past. A man who wants to be her future.

Post Script: Joan Reeves makes her home in the Lone Star State with her hero, her husband, but you can find her online at: her blog SlingWordsher website * Facebook * and Twitter. She lives the philosophy that is the premise of all of her romance novels: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.”

Readers, sign up for WordPlay, Joan’s email list/newsletter, and receive a short story, not published elsewhere. Writers, sign up for Writing Hacks, Joan’s free newsletter, and receive a free copy of a nonfiction book.

Characters That Cook

My newest release, Between Lonesome and Texas, is the 5th book in the Lone Star Cowboys series. My heroine, Mandy, has appeared in several of the previous books, first as a waitress at the local diner, and later as the cook at the Triple S ranch.

Unlike me, Mandy loves to cook. I can cook, but I don’t really enjoy it. Take me out to a restaurant and I’m a happy camper. Unfortunately, the hubby doesn’t like eating out. But because he loves me, he takes me out a couple of times a month. The rest of the time, I cook.

For Mandy, though, cooking is an expression of her soul. It’s how she shows people she cares about them. It’s also how she earns the money to try to make up for a terrible mistake she made as a teenager.

I’m not sure if Blake fell in love with Mandy or her cooking first. After a decade on the rodeo circuit, eating from food trucks and fast food joints, he thinks there just might be something to that old saying about the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But despite the fact that life on the road is a lonely one, he can’t imagine giving up his freedom for the chains of commitment.

In all of my books, a slice of real life creeps in. In this case, it’s in the form of a couple of family-favorite recipes. You can find them both at the end of the book. A hint: they are both desserts that will make the man in your life think you’ve slaved for hours in the kitchen, but are actually very easy to make.

So how do you feel about cooking? Love it? Hate it? Consider it something you just gotta do?

Check out Between Lonesome and Texas today, and let us know if you tried one of the recipes.

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      When you’re stuck somewhere between Lonesome and Texas, which way do you turn? In one direction lies freedom. In the other, love. Or is there a way to have both?