It’s beginning to feel a lot like fall… Well, not really, but it hasn’t felt a whole heck of a lot like summer. I mean, it’s been hot, but hey, this is Louisiana. When isn’t it hot? And maybe I’ve just become immune to the heat, but it hasn’t felt as hot this year as it has previously. Or maybe it is due to that elephant in the room that everyone is sick of talking about but understands there’s not much getting around it: Miss Uninvited Guest COVID herself that has taken away many of the outdoor activities I generally participate in. And we also had another unwanted party crasher in Ida, who just ransacked what Ms. COVID had left available. In any case, I find myself welcoming the arrival of fall for the first time. Along with fall comes the season of holidays. And in my mind, it’s never too early to begin planning for the holiday festivities. Well, almost never too early. I can’t quite get on board with the whole Christmas in July thing.
Halloween is my jam. It didn’t always use to be though. When I was younger, I didn’t enjoy going door to door asking for candy. I preferred being the person who distributed it to others. Then, when I moved to the place that shall not be named, the majority of residents in that area do not celebrate Halloween. In fact, there is an unspoken anti-Halloween movement where groups purposely engage in behaviors that will prevent people from being able to participate in trick-or-treating. For example, some organizations hold “meetings” that will keep parents at work longer. Others speak negatively about the holiday in an attempt to stigmatize parents who allow their children to celebrate or any adult who celebrates. Some even go as far as to destroy decorations. Others who aren’t anti-Halloween seemed to hold the belief that it was a holiday only for children, and thus, do not do anything special. While there, I learned to fly under the radar with some ways to celebrate without being too obvious to a casual viewer.
Orange trash liners. Most people I know hate glitter and confetti because it gets everywhere and they hate cleaning it up. But let me tell you, my trash sparkles. Several years ago, I accidentally discovered this decorating gem. I needed trash bags and randomly grabbed a box without paying attention to color or size. It turned out that they were orange and didn’t fit any of the trash bins in my home. Additionally, they were super thin (practically transparent) and not strong enough to hold anything heavier than paper. Since I’d opened them before noticing my error, I decided to take them to my work office. At the time, I had a coworker who was convinced that anything having to do with Halloween invoked evil spirits and demons. So, when she saw the orange trash liners, she assumed I was involved in some voodoo witchcraft. She also was the kind of person who inspects other people’s trash and spread gossip about the contents. Honestly, using orange trash lines as decorations hadn’t crossed my mind. My hand happened to land on orange and could have just as easily grabbed blue, purple, or pink. When my coworker began with her neurotic blathering and accusations, of course, it tapped a passive-aggressive nerve in me. I had recently received a package that had black tissue paper, and my child had a project that she’d used black glitter. It all found its way into the orange trash bags daily. Now, normally, the trash was collected from each office, but I set mine outside my door for pickup by janitorial staff. So, each morning there was a translucent orange orb filled with black glitter and confetti. It wasn’t long before other workers adopted the idea. Simple and petty.
Plastic caldrons are easy to find, inexpensive, and make excellent candy dishes. Most dollar stores and craft stores sell packages of plastic caldrons for just a few bucks. Fill with your favorite candy or popcorn and place wherever you like. At first glance it may seem like an ordinary bowl, but a caldron can add a fun pop of holiday spirit to a room without being over the top. For writers, use these caldrons to hold writing materials such as pens, erasers, paperclips, sticky pads, bookmarkers, etc.
Of course, one can never go wrong with a holiday wreath. Depending on how obvious the design, holiday wreaths can range from being subtle to obnoxious. They can be delicate with silk flowers and frilly ribbons, a bit silly with googly-eyed ghosts and laughing Frankensteins, generic with pumpkins and black-and-white trimmings, or frightful with monsters and gory vampire teeth dripping blood. Perhaps the best features about wreaths are that nearly every place sells them, they are easy to make, and it doesn’t take much to refurbish them. Premade wreaths can be pricy at some stores; however, in general, really nice wreaths can be constructed with materials from the dollar store for only a few bucks. This means that wreaths are within most people’s budgets. For book lovers, add something that is themed for your favorite book or author.
A friend had the daunting task of cleaning out his attic, garage, and basement. As would most people, he divided all the items into three groups: keep, sell/donate, and toss. When it came to the two aquariums, he could not find anyone to rehome them to. (I guess fish are not popular.) He didn’t want to throw them out because they were in perfect condition and he felt throwing them in the trash would be wasteful. What he knew was that he didn’t want fish anymore. When he’d moved, he placed the aquariums in his basement converted mancave. However, something about the ventilation in the room (he explained it to me but I forgot what he said) wasn’t conducive to having fish (even with pumps). In short, his tanks had become fish death chambers. After some thought, he decided to turn them into display cases. For Halloween, he decorated one in what I think closely resembled a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean. He had skulls and fish skeletons guarding a half-sunken treasure chest while human skeletons were half-buried in rocks and plank. What was interesting about this décor was how pretty it was. While it gave the vibe of Halloween, it was more purples and blues than oranges and blacks for a refreshing take on holiday decorations.
This idea may resonate with people who enjoy decorating but do not want to spend money on seasonal items. That is what sparked the next idea for a friend. She really enjoys the holidays but feels that she will never get her money’s worth out of decorations. She developed the idea to arrange of her “horror” and “spooky” books and books with orange, black, white, and gray covers on the same shelves on her built-in bookcase. She then added old muslin that she’d found stuck away in a box, used candles in worn candlestands, old jewelry (I don’t know why this worked with the theme but it did), and bottles she filled with water and dye to look like potions. What she ended up with was a show-stopping Halloween display nook that cost her zero bucks. She does the same for other holidays, and it only takes her a couple of hours to gather what she needs and design it. It changes the entire feeling of the room.
So, those are five quick, inexpensive, and maybe less thought of Halloween decorating ideas. Now it’s that time to let me know what your thoughts and opinions are. What did you think? Did you find any of this information helpful? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comment section. Also, let me know if you would like me to cover more of these types of topics or dive deeper into this one. If you like this post, please click the like button and share it. If you’re not following me on the Creole Bayou blog, what are you waiting for? There’s always room at the bayou.
When the scandal of a double homicide threatens to destroy his career, this billionaire hockey player hires an ambitious sports agent to improve his public image. It’s time to let the puckery begin.
Timothée Croneau is that jock—the bad boy superstar with the naughty reputation. He’s handsome, arrogant, and a billionaire. He’s also the number one person-of-interest in a double homicide and recently traded to a losing team who is showing him no love. And wouldn’t it be just his luck that his career splashed in the toilet six months after his long-time agent kicked the bucket? Now, he’s stuck with Ryker Kitsch. An agent is supposed to fix his life, though, not break his heart.
Speaking of breaks, ex-athlete Ryker Kitsch wants his in the sports agency realm. He sees his chance to make a name for himself by helping rebrand his agency’s newly acquired hockey star, Timothée Croneau. The guy needs every lick of positive PR he can get. So, why is the devilishly gorgeous forward fighting him at every step and leaving Ryker to wonder if he’s been hired for a babysitting gig?
The mess Timothée is stirring was never in any contract Ryker was hired to handle. One thing’s for sure. Whether it’s a forecheck or backcheck, collision is inevitable.
For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.
Maybe it stems from the early childhood years of going back to school each year, but I find September a time of new beginnings, even more than January.
I love summer. Anyone who follows me knows that summers are very, very short where I live, and not all that hot. I always wish it was longer. That being said, I love this time of year—the crisp days, the turning of the leaves, and the return of favorite shows to television. Then there are the holidays—Thanksgiving first (I live in Canada), followed by Halloween, and then Christmas. It’s the beginning of a very busy time of year.
For now, I’ll milk the last of the longer days and warmth and start stocking up on hot chocolate and warm socks for the chillier days ahead. The longer evenings mean more time to kick back and read.
If you enjoy paranormal romance and are looking for a new series to try, why not check out my drakon shifters. DRAKON’S PROMISE, the first book is FREE on most e-book retailers.
What is a drakon?
Well about 4000 years ago, dragons came to our world and mated with human woman. When their sons were born, their sires abandoned them, returning to their own world. Feared and shunned, they have existed among us all this time.
They have the cunning, strength, preternatural abilities, and instincts of their dragon sires, along with the intellect and emotions of their human mothers. A deadly combination. And unlike their sires, their base form is that of a human, allowing them to inhabit either human or dragon form indefinitely.
Few know of their existence, but a secret group of men and women are working to capture and cage them. For drakons have not only amassed fortunes, but their blood can offer healing and immortality to humans who drink it.
They mostly live lonely, solitary lives. But every now and then a drakon crosses paths with a very special woman, one who might change his lonely life forever.
Blood of the Drakon, Book 1
Darius Varkas is a drakon. He’s neither human nor dragon.
He’s also the target of an ancient order who want to capture all drakons for their blood. When fresh, a drakon’s blood can cure any illness and prolong a human’s life, and the Knights will stop at nothing to get it.
When librarian Sarah Anderson stumbles across a rare book belonging to the Knights of the Dragon, she’s quickly thrust into a dangerous world of secrets and shifters and things she never would have believed possible. When the Knights realize Sarah has a secret of her own, she becomes just as much a target as Darius. Her scary dragon shifter just might be her best chance at survival.
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, assassins, 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.
My sincere thanks to Delilah for allowing me to return to her wonderful blog and share an update of Diana Cosby’s Romance Readers Build A Habitat For Humanity Home.
A bit of background. Romance readers are AMAZING, and SO is Habitat For Humanity, a charity that I love supporting and volunteering for. Several years ago, I thought, why not pair the two and help a deserving family receive a home? And, the Diana Cosby’s Romance Reader’s Build A Habitat For Humanity House fundraiser was born.
I contacted the Habitat For Humanity office in Grayson County, Texas, where I’ve had the honor of helping with several builds and spoke with Laurie Mealy, Executive Director. She embraced the project and was thrilled at the thought of pairing romance readers, who love stories where heroes and heroines overcome challenges to make their dreams come true, with making the dream of homeownership for a deserving family a reality.
Goal: Fund an entire home – $55,000.
I kicked off the challenge by donating $200. As I write this, we’ve raised $25,250, and we’re only $2,250 away from having raised ½ of the funds needed to build a Habitat For Humanity Home! Romance readers are amazing, and I have complete faith that as the stories they love, they will continue to join together to raise the amount necessary to give a deserving family a home.
How it works:
As readers send donations to Habitat for Humanity of Grayson County for the “Diana Cosby’s Readers Build A Habitat For Humanity House of Love,” the total contributions are updated below the house graphic on the upper right side of their homepage near the top. Donations can be sent via PayPal by clicking on the house, which takes you to the donation page, or by mailing a check or money order to:
Habitat for Humanity of Grayson County
901 N. Grand Avenue
P.O. Box 2725
Sherman, TX 75091
*Please note on your donation: ‘For Diana Cosby’s Romance Readers Build A Habitat For Humanity House.’
Again, my sincere thanks to Delilah for allowing me to return to her blog, and another huge thanks to everyone for helping make an incredible difference in a deserving family’s life. For when they walk into a Habitat For Humanity house, it’s more than mortar and wood, but a place they can call home.
*Photos used with permission of Habitat For Humanity Grayson County, TX.
ONE winner will be drawn from everyone who posts on my Habitat For Humanity post on Delilah’s blog between 12 September 2021 – 19 September 2021. The winner will receive a mug!
About Diana Cosby
A retired Navy Chief, Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense. Books in her award-winning MacGruder Brothersseries have been translated into five languages. Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.
After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world. After the release of the bestselling MacGruder Brothersseries and The Oath Trilogy, she released the bestselling The Forbidden Series.
Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.
“You don’t yell at a sleepwalker. He may fall and break his neck” is probably one of my favorite lines from Billy Wilder’s classic film, Sunset Boulevard. The main character Joe Gillis makes this observation of Norma Desmond, a faded silent screen star who has built a false reality about her circumstances. She believes she’s still famous and desired when the truth is she has been forgotten. I like this line because it poses me with a challenge: what do you do when you come up against a worldview that ignores reality? Joe lets Norma keep sleepwalking/living her lie. He doesn’t yell to wake her up until the end of the movie, but by then it’s too late.
I’m reviewing a historical fiction that depicts life in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1880s. The author brings in characters and storylines you don’t normally see in mainstream historical fiction: Jews as major characters, the mixed-race heritage reality of Southern society (look how long it took historians to own up to Thomas Jefferson fathering children by Sally Hemmings), and a historic African-American event. I applauded the story until I got to the last scene. The ending, while deservedly triumphal, rang hollow to me. Why? Because historically for every step forward in the African American struggle for equality there are always two steps back. Ending as it does the story gives the sleepwalker/feel-good impression that right always triumphs. To the author’s credit, she shares the actual facts of the strike at the back of the book. My review will encourage readers to read that timeline first. Another fictional account dealing with the same historical event shared how the larger society made sure that win was never a gain, but still ended hopefully by embracing the truth expressed by the late John Lewis: “Our struggle is not the struggle of a day or a week, a month or a year. It is the struggle of a lifetime.”
Are there times when you have to risk the sleepwalker breaking their neck? Yes. When sleepwalking reinforces stereotypes. In 1943’s Casablanca Ilsa Lund asks, “Who is the boy playing the piano?” She’s asking about Sam, a Black adult. How does someone supposedly from Eastern Europe know to call a Black man a boy? I’ve yet to find one review or commentary of Casablanca that notes this sleepwalker slight, i.e., it’s right and normal to call Black men boys. The Big Band hit, “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” written in 1941, displays the same attitude. Black men working as railroad porters were called boy. Many of these men were highly educated. None of them were boys.
As a historical romance writer, I’m grateful for folk who have yelled me awake when I’ve written something, albeit historically accurate, that reinforces disparaging or belittling sleepwalker attitudes. As a member of the human race, I’m thankful for groups like the NAACP and the ACLU that have been yelling people awake for years.
For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, answer this question: at the risk of a broken neck, if you’re sleepwalking would you want someone to yell and wake you up?
“Who Can Find A Virtuous Woman” featured in Falling Hard: A Passionate Ink erotic romance anthology
Losing her virginity is free-born Eve Richardson’s only hope of escape from marriage to an insufferable fundamentalist preacher. In need of a knight in shining armor, she finds a potential candidate in straightlaced Madison Dugger, the first of his family born outside of slavery. Madison does find Eve desirable and has wanted her for as long as he’s known her. But classism and internalized racism are barriers to love he finds unscalable so he balks at Eve’s request. Can she overcome his objections in time to enlist his aid in her deflowering, saving her from a life as a virtuous woman?
Excerpt from “Who Can Find A Virtuous Woman”
Reflecting on Mr. Richardson’s prejudices had put Madison in mind of a prejudice of his own. He never thought light-skinned girls were informed or intelligent enough to be attractive. Eve forced a reevaluation of his low opinion. She impressed him as she rattled off names, dates, and facts at the Bible study. She neither bragged about what she knew nor backed away if challenged. Her tone was self-possessed and forward-looking, as if her own name would make some fact and date famous. Or infamous.
He had liked that. Her directness challenged his society-approval-seeking ways. In her, he recognized an adventurous spirit akin to the one he kept hidden. He imagined himself as a couple with her. With her as his mate, he would be a bolder advocate for people of color. But given what had happened to Eve’s brother, Mr. Richardson might not want a firebrand for his daughter.
The early evening air had contained the warmth of the season. The nature of ice cream being what it was—well, accidents were bound to happen. Eve had seemed particularly accident-prone last night. A bit of caramel pumpkin ice cream had dribbled at the corner of her mouth. To capture it, her pretty pink tongue had lavished long, slow licks across her ripe curvy lips. Those long, slow licks had telegraphed a message to the pulsing bulge between his legs.
She’d unbuttoned the top three buttons of her blouse and fanned herself languidly. “My but it’s hot for Indian summer.” As her chest swelled upward, unrestrained thanks to the open buttons, Madison had swallowed hard at the glimpse of tempting golden-brown skin.
More ice cream had dripped onto an exposed spot of breast. She’d scraped up the spill with her middle finger then sucked on her fingertip like a baby nursing at its mother’s tit—all for his benefit. Of that, he was sure.
Madison had sighed. When he’d looked up, she was staring directly at him. He’d hoped his enjoyment of her cleavage hadn’t been detected. The smirk twisting her lips had dashed his hopes. He’d shuddered and glanced away. Being caught like Peeping Tom by this alluring, knowing vixen had stiffened his cock.
Making a pass could just mean scoring a second chance…
Former NFL player and coach Duncan “Hatch” Hatcher fumbled his career and marriage. Now divorced and ready to tackle his future, he has an opportunity to redeem himself as coach of his college alma mater’s football team. But how can he can turn the team’s losing streak around and keep the secret of his downfall buried when the school agrees to a documentary that will allow a lovely journalist to dig her way into his past…and into his heart?
Olivia Grant’s ex-husband almost wrecked her journalism career while he definitely did a number on her self-esteem. The documentary on Duncan Hatcher is the perfect way to rebuild both. As a freshman in college, she’d had a crush on the senior football hero, but he hadn’t known she existed. She never expects the sparks that fly between them as they work on the project nor the struggles they must face if they both want to win.
Every move after that, to her, seemed to have some kind of sexual connotation.
The air between them vibrated with the electricity sparking back and forth. By the time he paid the check and they left the restaurant, every pulse in her body pounded, her breasts ached, and her teeny tiny thong was soaked. She wanted to hurry home and take a cold shower before she did something really stupid.
In the truck, he turned on the radio and found a station playing oldies rock music that he tuned low. They rode in a silence that was more electric than uncomfortable, especially when he reached over and took her hand in his, giving it a gentle squeeze. When they reached her townhouse, he again lifted her from the cab and walked her to the door, holding her hand. When she had the door open, he turned her to face him and studied her face for a long time. She waited, wondering if she had the willpower not to cross that line from professional to personal and how much damage she’d do if she did.
“You have to be the sexiest sports reporter I’ve ever met. I would really like to kiss you. Would that be okay with you?”
She should have turned away, but she couldn’t find the willpower. The kiss was soft and gentle, a mere brush of lips, a touch of flesh. Then it was over, but she wanted more. A lot more. She could feel this spinning out of control, and she was powerless to stop it.
“If you invite me in, I’m not going to turn you down.”