I want to thank Delilah for hosting me on her blog today. Now that Thanksgiving is over, talking about Christmas is officially fair game, right? 😊
Christmas is always a fun time of year for me. I live in Wisconsin, so the holidays are often accompanied by a beautiful snowfall. And I have two sons, ages ten and seven, so the excitement that goes with decorating, baking, parties, and gift exchanges is ever-present. Not that there isn’t a fair bit of chaos around the holidays as well, but I take the good with the bad!
Last year, my brother and his wife flew in from Singapore and declared that they wanted to make a family Christmas video that would serve as our holiday greeting card to extended family and loved ones that year. My brother had written an entire script, with everyone having speaking and singing roles. It ended up being quite the production and took a good chunk of time to accomplish, but it’s now in our DVD collection and is something I anticipate becoming a Christmas tradition—watching our “Family Christmas Special” on Christmas Eve and sipping hot cocoa while a fire crackles in the fireplace.
My youngest asked me what we were going to do for our Christmas video this year, and I had to laugh. I think that endeavor was a one-time thing, but it’s always fun to make memories, engage in old family traditions or create new ones.
For our family, that means spending a Saturday in December baking cookies all day with my mom, sister and nieces. Eating chocolate chip pancakes on Christmas morning before reading the story of Jesus’ birth and opening presents around the real pine Christmas tree. The kids will play with the “Activity Scene” (what they used to call the VeggieTales Nativity scene we pull out every year). And Christmas is the one day my husband puts on his baggy, bright green Grinch tee shirt—a gift from our youngest a few years ago.
What Christmas traditions do you have? Do the holidays bring you joy, or make you cringe?
Before I go, I want to share about my novella Christmas in Meadow Creek, which is a small town romance that I hope warms your heart. This sweet, uplifting story took only three weeks to write. The relationship between the main characters, Lincoln and Sarah, flowed effortlessly onto the pages. I wanted to keep the subject matter and storyline lighthearted in hopes that this story would bring a sense of love, joy, and belonging this holiday season. And since it’s a novella, it won’t take long to be drawn into the characters’ lives and watch the story unfold in this beautiful, small Wisconsin town.
Christmas in Meadow Creek
Sarah Laughlin left her big-city life and dead-end relationship behind for a fresh start as a fourth-grade teacher in the small, Wisconsin town of Meadow Creek. And it feels like home, too, despite the persistent troublemaker in her class and the lack of familiar faces. But the holidays are going to be lonely this year. Until she meets firefighter Lincoln Thompson. Suddenly, the hope of spending Christmas with someone she cares about is within reach.
Lincoln loves his home town of Meadow Creek, but ever since his long-time girlfriend left him for a better life in the city, he wonders if he’ll ever find love in this small town where everyone knows everyone. Then he meets Sarah during her class’s field trip to his firehouse, and a spark is lit. But when they discover that Sarah’s troublemaking student is none other than Lincoln’s beloved nephew, their newfound relationship is put to the test. Can they navigate through the complexities of family dynamics to find a love that will last.
Katy Eeten is the wife of a youth pastor and mother of two school-age boys. She works full-time in the business world, but her true passion is writing. She has published Contemporary Christian Romance Blast From Her Pastand has another novel, A Heart Held Captive, due out next spring. Her novella Christmas in Meadow Creek just released this month. When she’s not working or writing, she can be found taking walks, baking goodies, dining out, or spending time with her family.
This is the time of year where I’m especially thoughtful about all I have to be thankful for. From an author standpoint, I’m grateful that I’m rarely at a loss for writing ideas. Recently, someone asked what inspires me. I responded with a quick answer – almost everything.
By nature, I’m an inquisitive person. I love watching documentaries about history and various topics from science fiction to who killed President Kennedy to how crayons are made. It’s all so interesting, and I always find myself asking the “what if” question. What if I’ve already been kidnapped by aliens and my life is playing out in an alternative universe? What if my character finally figures out who the murderer is but the hunt culminates during a national crisis or a weather emergency? What if the bad guy commits murder by hacking into his victim’s pacemaker?
The sky is the limit on imagination, and I find inspiration in everywhere.
Music is a huge inspiration for me. I’ve attached particular songs for each of my books which represent the theme of the book or is somehow pivotal for a specific character. I will often play that song on repeat if I’m having an especially difficult writing day or I’m working on a crucial scene. Listening to certain playlists helps me transpose the movie playing out in my head into written words.
Inspiration can come in any form. A weird cloud, the loud, unexpected boom from a construction site, an airplane taking off for parts unknown, or firetruck, siren blasting, rushing by. These everyday images have inspired me to dream and create. I get the greatest joy from creating stories springing forth from various sources of inspiration and it’s my hope that these stories can bring entertainment, intrigue, and escape to others.
The Order Series is a four-book romantic suspense series (book four is in the works now and will be released early summer 2019). The inspiration for this series came after watching a documentary on the Illuminati and Free Masons. Both of these organizations were heavily influenced by the concept of a secret society and held religious undertones. I was particularly inspired by the use of numbers and symbols, employed by both the Illuminati and Free Masons in creating a sense of mystery and maintaining an elite membership. My series is based on a cult-like organization that began with a basis in religion but transformed into a group with a quest for money and power.
What inspires you? To win a signed copy of the first book in The Order series, Order of Fear, let me know your greatest inspiration. One winner chosen at random.
The Order Series
Order of Fear
When Marissa Nash’s life is turned upside down with the death of her fiancé, she is comforted by the friendship of the would be best man, Justin Tanner. But as Marissa and Justin grow closer, they soon discover they’ve fallen into a wicked web of lies and danger.
Reid Patterson plans to join the FBI hoping to right the wrongs of The Order, a sinister faction controlled by his family. When he meets Holly Babson, a child psychologist, sparks fly as they both must deal with past hurts and fresh danger.
Carson Maxwell escapes the grip of her family’s insidious organization, The Order, and carefully crafts a new life as a medical researcher in Boston. When her identity is exposed and she meets Adam Forrester, FBI agent, her life careens off course again, delivering her and Adam into the clutches of the very people Carson ran from.
Okay, so you’re wondering what a picture of an array of Post-its has to do with Christmas, right?
First, let’s talk about the picture. Isn’t it lovely? All those bright colors? All the variations of sizes and shapes? I get giddy just looking at them. My faves are the lined ones, because I am an inveterate “lister”. I love the shaped ones because they’re perfect for jotting pretty little notes as reminders to my minions (er, family members). See that hint of yellow beneath the array? That too is an AWESOMELY huge Post-it!!!!
And only Post-its will do! Have you ever bought the cheap rip-offs? They tear your papers, pull off paint and dry-wall, or they curl up and flutter away. No!
I can’t remember what life before Post-its was like. Certainly dreary. Certainly filled with tape to attach my notes to papers and boards. But some smart person divined that there were obsessive people out there who would love to peel a paper and stick it somewhere without having to search for the Scotch tape. And they found me.
So, back to Christmas.
My family always sits me down to ask what I want for Christmas. Guess what always goes to the top of the list? You got it!
They roll their eyes. You have tons of Post-its! they say. I shrug and widen my eyes. Your point?
I never have to buy my own because I do have a huge stash of Post-its, which doesn’t mean I don’t buy my own. The second I spied that huge yellow pad I knew I had to have it!!!!
This year, I added variety to my Christmas list. Just to make them feel like they could surprise me. Here’s what my letter to Santa looked like…
Notebooks — small ones for my purse; a Bullet journal; some Filofax inserts
Cute, zany, fuzzy socks (I wear them inside year-round)
A soldering kit with metal to get me started
I added the soldering kit to get them used to the idea of me adding one more tool to my already over-filled craft room. Every time my daughter walks through it, she threatens to call one of those hoarder shows. But a soldering kit would be nice. For my birthday, I’ll start laying down hints that I really, really need an enameling kiln…
So, now you know something else about me. I’d love to know what your short list of “Christmas Wants” looks like! Answer for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
My birthday was a week ago today, but I’m still celebrating. I tend to make it a festival, a birthday fest, as it were. I figure another year alive is more than reason enough to celebrate. I’ll take myself out for breakfast one day and lunch on another. I’ll see a movie and go to one of my favorite stores and buy myself something…besides a new book, although buying a new book is always a good idea.
I write paranormal books, which got me to thinking. The number of birthdays I’ll have in my lifetime is finite, but that’s not the case with many of my characters. I’ve written werewolves, who live for about double a human lifespan. That’s not immortal, but it’s still pretty darn good. I’ve also written about vampires, who will survive as long as they drink blood.
Then there are my drakons, the hybrid sons of full-blooded dragons and human women. They have no idea how long they’ll live, although they’ve already been around for four thousand years and show no sign of aging. They may well live forever. I wonder what birthdays must be like after living all those years. Do they even mark the day? Do they even know the day? Back when they were born records of such events weren’t as meticulously kept as they are now.
That’s what it’s like in the mind of a writer. My thoughts wander down these paths asking questions most people never consider. I love my job.
Whether my drakons celebrate with cake and presents or if they just let the day of their birth pass by like so many other days before, I don’t know. But I do know that there is a new drakon book in my series, just released on November 26th.
Even if it’s not your birthday, you might like to treat yourself.
Blood of the Drakon, Book 6
Dying isn’t an option. I’ve survived a kidnapping, and now I’m on the run from the Knights of the Dragon who want my gift. There’s nothing a dragon loves more than treasure. I’m Abigail Owens, and I can sense gemstones. When I find myself drawn to a beautiful stone bracelet at a tiny shop in Moscow, I can’t help but have it — even though I can sense it’s power. But I didn’t realize with this one decision I’ve just put myself in the middle of a war between the Knights and a Drakon.
I guess I’m just lucky like that.
The only person I trust even a little is Vasili Zima, which is weird since I’m not sure if he wants to kill me or protect me. I’m drawn to him in a way I hadn’t thought possible, and he feels the same way, or he wouldn’t be risking his life to help me. He’s wanted by the bad guys just as much as I am, and staying with me, well, there’s a hundred percent chance I’m about to get us both killed. But I will not be going down without a fight.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
Researching the Civil War can be rewarding and fascinating. I particularly like to dig through the annals of history in search of information about women who lived through this turbulent and very bloody time.
Before the war, elite southern society considered their wives and women, in general, no better or no worse than their black slaves. At birth, girls became the property of their fathers (mothers had no ‘legal’ claim to their children). When they married, women became the property of their husbands, and so did any land or valuables they might have owned prior to that marriage. Their marital position placed them in charge of a household that catered to the needs of their “white family and their husband’s slaves”.
Before marriage, women were not expected to need much of an education because most married at a young age and spent the rest of their lives engaged in domestic work. After marriage, the fear of continued pregnancy gave them cause for worry as many of them died in childbirth.
Despite some of the gloomy statistics of how Southern women were regarded in society, many stepped out of their standard roles and excelled in situations far beyond their educations or knowledge when Civil War came to their towns. There are countless stories of women serving as nurses in make-shift hospitals, women making three hundred uniforms in one month for their particular army, and women inventing artificial limbs and medicinal concoctions for wounded soldiers. Although rare, some women even disguised themselves and served as soldiers in both the Confederate and Union armies.
But there was another type of soldier who proved to be more relevant and effective for both the Cause and the Union. These women were spies. They wore hoop skirts for a uniform, and their arsenal included charm, grace, and guile. Female spies performed a very valuable service to the war effort regardless of which side they spied for.
One of the most famous was Belle Boyd—beautiful, educated, and quite daring. She was the daughter of a Virginia tobacco plantation owner. One of the elite in Southern society, she became a war agent at the age of seventeen when she shot and killed a Northern soldier as he attacked her mother. That daring act was followed by many others after she was appointed courier for Generals Beauregard and Jackson. Her autobiography, Belle Boyd, in Camp and Prison, recounted stories of her dangerous deeds which spanned a period of nearly three years.
Belle once rode thirty miles overnight with news of a Yankee attack, and her successful mission was responsible for saving many confederate lives, but not without a personal attack upon her character. The Northern press labeled her a “village courtesan” who gained her secrets through “sexual conduct.” Belle was not discouraged but continued to gather vital information for the South. She used her feminine innocence to obtain the battle plan that allowed Jackson’s troops to capture Front Royal, Virginia. A Union major complained that Belle Boyd had done more damage to the Union than half the men of the Confederacy. Six times, she had been captured, sometimes imprisoned for months but often released. She was certainly an example of a Southern lady who made a difference through her role in the Civil War.
The heroine in Land of Falling Stars, Sophia Whitfield, is not a spy, but like many women of the time, she suffers drastic repercussions when the Civil War came to Fredericksburg, VA. I think the blurb sums up perfectly Sophia’s life as she struggles to save her beloved childhood home, Arbor Rose.
Land of Falling Stars
The United States is torn asunder by Civil War.
Two men, linked together by their love for one woman, Sophia Whitfield, answer the call of duty.
An arranged marriage to Jesse James Grantham has been in the works since Sophia and Jesse were children. When he leaves to fight for his beloved South, he promises Sophia they’ll whip those Johnny Rebs in no time and when he returns, they’ll get married under her mother’s rose arbor.
Sophia’s best friend from childhood, Gavin Langdale, enlists to fight for the North. Why does she feel as if he’s taking her heart with him the day he leaves for war? She loves Jesse…doesn’t she?
After Sophia’s parents die in a fire, she struggles to save Arbor Rose. Most of the slaves have run off, the South is in tatters and so is the only home she’s ever known. Another bluecoat is staggering down the hill, coming to steal the last of her meager possessions. Before the hated enemy has a chance to commit the vilest of acts, she shoots him.
And then discovers its Gavin, the champion of her youth.
Dark secrets lurk in Gavin’s memory, secrets much darker than the despicable acts of war. He carries a message for Sophia, a missive from Jesse. When he finds the courage to tell her what really happened to Jesse on that bloody battlefield, she’ll hate him—hate him until she draws her last breath.
A powerful story of lies, betrayal and a love that burns brighter than all the stars in Heaven.
What reviewers are saying about Land of Falling Stars
“Land of Falling Stars lured me in immediately with its lyrical title and instantly captivated me with the haunting love story of Gavin and Sophia.”
“The author pens a story that is unlike any other. Land of Falling Stars makes you believe in the possibility of retribution and the hope of finding your brass ring in the last place you look.”
“Diablo has penned a beautiful and haunting love story full of passion, deception, danger. Land of Falling Stars will leave you breathless and longing for more!”
If you’d like to read more about the Civil War and Sophia and Gavin’s haunting love story, you can buy Land of Falling Starsfor 99 cents for a limited time. Available on all venues here: https://books2read.com/FallingStars