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Do you own one of these? (Contest)
Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Karla Campos!
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First, solve the puzzle! Share your time, if you like. Then we can talk.

I have two, although neither is Christmas/holiday-themed. One features an astronaut sitting in space. The other features the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz.

For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me whether you have one, and if you do, what does yours feature?

Candice LaBria: Holiday Tradition (Plus, FREE in KU!!)
Thursday, December 9th, 2021

I am tagging on to Delilah’s “St. Nick” post. If you haven’t read it, you can find it here. https://www.delilahdevlin.com/blog/2021/12/05/st-nicks-night/. She wrote on her family’s Christmas traditions. Let me tell you about mine.

I found it in the midst of utter chaos. I was chasing down the perfect gifts for loved ones, planning a party, and juggling visiting family with different schedules, dietary needs, and pets. Facebook was my escape from reality. It was my coping mechanism—don’t judge. There was a picture depicting Jolabokaflod. I looked at that photo of a blazing fire with an inviting chair under the snow-covered windows. A hot beverage next to a pile of books lay beside it.  I was immediately transported to Iceland. The house was quiet; the fire crackled; all my friends were curled up with books. I wanted that. Okay, I lived on the gulf coast, so snow and a roaring fire were not realistic, but I could give books on Christmas Eve. Setting up little reading nooks and an array of warm beverages were possibilities as well. I was now on a mission to adopt Jolabokaflod. It helped me rediscover my love of the holidays. Gone were the worries of making everything perfect and attending every party. What fun I had shopping for the perfect stories for my house full of guests.

Jolabokaflod is the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve then going off to read them with a non-alcoholic hot drink. It started after World War II, when paper was not rationed, and booksellers were trying to hawk their wares. They published a list of books and mailed it to everyone in November encouraging the giving of books for Christmas.

At my house, the big night arrived—Christmas Eve. The weather was warm.  I kicked on the air to frigid, so people could snuggle up with cozy blankets.  I had chosen to keep my guests in the dark about the evening’s event, so their faces were filled with anticipation as I handed out the beautifully wrapped gifts. I even learned how to make fancy bows, which is a huge feat since I am the least crafty person on Earth. Thank you, YouTube. My drinks trolley overflowed with cider, teas, coffee, and hot chocolate. I explained the tradition. Then everyone took turns revealing their books. There were oohs and ahhs and a few puzzled hmms. Friends selected beverages and dispersed to find the perfect reading spots. It was amazing. We were alone but together, kind of like a silent book club. After a couple of hours, we gathered back for a late supper of roasted lamb and flatkaka to keep with the Icelandic theme. The conversation flowed and ranged. Huge success. It was all that I had hoped for and more. Jolabokaflod is now my annual Christmas Eve event. The participants and books change, but the feeling of discovery and friendship thrive from year to year. Give it a try.

If you are looking for a book gift, I highly recommend Passionate Ink’s Falling Hard anthology (which is currently FREE in KU!). It contains seven steamy stories to warm your cold December nights. Michal Scott writes of Eve trying to escape an unwanted marriage in 1898 in Who Can Find a Virtuous Woman. Ryley Banks’ hot ginger TJ comes face to face with his teenage crush, Harley. Who doesn’t love a hot ginger? Find out what happens in Hard Cider Crush. Calia Wilde’s Burned Bones doesn’t disappoint with demons, dragons, and scorching sex. Learning that there is life after tragedy is the story of Roger Callahan. Ryan T. Osborn’s Claiming Papa is a daddy story that stays with the reader. Jordyn Kross’ Open Enrollment has you rooting for Dr. Chandra Russell from the first paragraph. What a steamy alien love story that has you hoping for a sequel. “When it comes to love and death, time is just another four-letter word.” Deni Dawson has a way with words. In her Between Love and Death, you find yourself thinking about houses and ghosts in a new way. A Facebook (can you tell it’s my story?) reconnect of first love leads to more than chaste kissing in The Homecoming.

All proceeds for Falling Hard go to Proliteracy.org!!

Want a sexy variation on Jolabokaflod? Pick up an erotic novel from your favorite author, pour your favorite beverage for a special person(s) of your choice, and take turns reading passages out loud. You don’t even have to wait until Christmas Eve!

Do you have a book tradition that you would like to share? I am always looking for new ways to celebrate with books or just celebrate!

Thank you, Delilah, for letting me share my favorite holiday tradition with your readers. Happy Holidays and Reading.

XOXO
Candy

To find out more about Candice LaBria, visit her website at www.CandiceLaBria.com or her socials at Bria_writes on Instagram and Twitter and Candice LaBria on Facebook.

Elizabeth Andrews: Holiday Favorites (Contest)
Monday, November 29th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Colleen C!
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I want to start by thanking Delilah for letting me come play in her space again today! It’s been a while, and I always enjoy visiting all of you here.

We just wrapped up my favorite holiday of the year here in the U.S. Thanksgiving is just the start of a long stretch of holidays, though. When I still worked in retail, that meant one of our busiest times of year, which made the holiday season a whole lot less fun with all of the extra hours we put in and some people who didn’t care if they were on a naughty list. I bet some of you have dealt with the same things in one way or another.

Holidays as adults are a lot different than when we were kids, aren’t they? All the work, not as much of the fun. Shopping, cooking, baking, wrapping, decorating, other obligations. Kids get to enjoy only the good stuff, the fun things. They rip into gifts with no thought about the huge pile of crumpled wrapping paper shoved into a corner. They get to eat the foods without any of the prep work, though when I was a kid, we did ‘help’ my mom with the baking, as kids do—getting in her way, spilling flour and sprinkles all over the kitchen, then getting out of the way when fresh cookies came out of the oven and leaving her to deal with the clean-up. Wouldn’t you sometimes like to do things that way now? Take part in all the fun bits, but none of the messy stuff?

I’m afraid I can’t really help with that, but thinking about holidays as a kid also makes me think of favorite things from those long ago holiday seasons. Like my grandma’s nut rolls—she always made extras to put in the freezer so she had something quick to pull out when company came throughout the year, and I loved getting a nice slice with butter on. I begged her for the recipe for a few years before she gave it to me, and it still makes me smile when I look at the index card with her neat handwriting and imprecise measurements and directions. My nut rolls are still not quite there yet, but I work on them every year. (I also cheat and make the dough in my bread machine now.) Or my other grandma’s sand tarts. She rolled that dough so thin, you could see light through it when the cookies were baked. I gave up on making those a long time ago—much too hard to get that dough that thin, then all the time spent with the cookie cutters and decorations, and such a mess to clean up afterward. My mom did that every year, too, and I can’t imagine doing it with a kitchen full of kids underfoot. But I really miss those cookies…just the right amount of sweet and perfectly crisp.

For our Thanksgiving dinners, I used to experiment with different kinds of stuffing each year, until I discovered how amazing stuffing is when made with sage and onion bread. That is a constant on our Thanksgiving dinner table now, along with a corn pudding and some variety of homemade cranberry sauce, plus the turkey of course. One thing that has been on our holiday table for years, though, is my grandma’s china. My Pop-pop gave it to me as a gift one year, and using it for holiday dinners makes me remember Thanksgiving dinners at their house when I was little, with immediate and extended family and friends around the table.

I think most of us have some favorite holiday recipe or family tradition that we try to continue even as adults, right? Something for our kids or even just ourselves. I’d love to hear about yours, and if you share by the end of Friday, December 3, 2021, I have an ebook copy of my most recent release, Protecting Medusa, up for grabs via a drawing on RandomResult.com. 

Protecting Medusa Blurb

Being the Medusa will put a real crimp in a woman’s social life. Lucky for Philomena Gregory, she gave up on men long before Athena’s curse landed on her head—she learned as a child men don’t stay, a lesson reinforced when she was a lovesick teenager. Not even the hot naked man in her bathroom will change her mind.

Ryder Ware has waited six years to meet Mena in person. She’s managed to avoid him every time he’s visited his son, her nephew. Flirting on the phone and via email is no substitute when a man is so intrigued. But now that Athena’s Harvesters have found her, Mena has no choice but to let him keep her safe—and close, very close.

Philomena may have to accept his protection, but, even if the chemistry between them is hotter than Hades, she won’t change her mind about a relationship, even after a little hot sex. Or even a lot of sex. Good thing Ryder’s a patient man. After years of waiting, what’s a few more weeks to convince the woman of his dreams he wants forever?

 

About the Author

Elizabeth Andrews has been a book lover since she was old enough to read. She read her copies of Little Women and the Little House series so many times, the books fell apart. As an adult, her book habit continues. Almost as long as she’s been reading great stories, she’s been attempting to write her own. Thanks to a fifth grade teacher who started the class on creative writing, she went from writing creative sentences to short stories and eventually full-length novels. Then, as a teenager, she found her mother’s stash of romance novels, and her future direction in writing was pretty well set in stone.

Along with her enormous book stash, Elizabeth lives with her husband of more than twenty-five years, and their two young adult sons live near enough to see frequently, though no one else in the family reads as much as she does. When she’s not at work or buried in books or writing, there is a garden outside full of herbs, flowers and vegetables that requires occasional attention, plus some neighborhood stray cats who like more frequent attention.

You can find out more at ElizabethAndrewsWrites.com

Genevive Chamblee: 10 Ways to Survive the Holidays
Friday, November 26th, 2021

I suppose now it is safe to say that we have officially entered the holiday season. In the U.S., there’s always been a little contention over when the holidays begin, as some skip from Halloween straight to Christmas and ignore Thanksgiving, while others do not concede that the holidays begin until the week of turkey day. And last year the holidays for most people didn’t feel like the holidays at all; although, the same could be said about this year. Usually, on Facebook and YouTube, there are tons of videos with Halloween decorations and creepy makeup looks as well as daily postings of gratitude. That really hasn’t happened this year, and if it did, it was on a much lower scale. Perhaps those are another thing that have been absorbed by the “new normal.” However, what hasn’t changed unfortunately is the sadness and despondency that the holidays can bring for some.

Holiday (and seasonal depression) is real. For some, it is due to the lack of sunlight when the clocks were rolled back an hour and the days are shorter. For others, it is the isolation and not being with (or having) friends and/or family. Still for others, it is the feeling of inadequacies due to lack of funds and feeling as if he/she cannot provide for their family and loved ones during this time of year. So, here are some tips to get through the holidays.

  1. Mental health should be everyone’s top priority. Take time to take care of yourself. Each day, do one thing no matter how small for yourself. This could be a walk in the park, a long bubble bath, giving yourself a facial, drawing, indulging in a movie, working in a garden, read a good book, or whatever. The activity of choice does not matter as long as it places a smile on your face.
  2. Do not dwell on events that bring you down. Missing loved ones that has left this life never truly goes away. It becomes something that we can live with an accept. However, this becomes a real challenge during the holidays, and it’s easy to become bogged down in the feelings of loss. Instead, engage in something that would have brought that person joy as a dedication to them. For example, if the person loved roses, place roses on their resting place. If that’s not possible, place them in your home or work office to remember the good times with them each time you look at them. One friend went skydiving during the holidays as she said it was something her father had always wanted to do. Since he was not able to fulfill that dream, she did it for him.
  3. For loved ones who haven’t passed away but for one reason or another cannot be present, bump up your contact with them in other ways. Facetime them more frequently. Go old school and send them a snail mail card with photos. Write more posts on their social media account. One friend did twenty-five days of vlogging (inspired by advent calendar boxes) and uploaded to his social media account so that his family would feel that they were a part of his daily life. In return, some of his family members did the same for him. It’s not the same as being in person, but it’s better than doing nothing and being lonely.
  4. Uplift others. One way to always improve your mood is to help to improve someone else’s there are plenty of ways to do this. It could be volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. It could be adopting an angle from the Angel Christmas Tree or purchasing a toy for Toys for Tots. Or it could be engaging in a random act of kindness. And smiling never hurts. There’s a local mom’s-n-pop’s breakfast bar where the workers are always chipper. It’s easy to see from their interactions with each other and customers that it isn’t an act and that the employees truly enjoy working there. They always brighten my day when I stopped by. Then, one day at lunch I stopped at a popular fast-food restaurant that the workers aren’t exactly known for their friendliness. I honestly can’t tell you why I was smiling when I got to the window as the person who took my order was sounding a bit perturbed. However, when I handed her my card with a cheery smile, I saw her disposition transform. I don’t know what was going on with her that day, but I hope that I brought a little more joy into it as the workers at the breakfast bar do for me.
  5. Get over the financials. Not everything is about money. There does not need to be tons (or any) presents beneath a tree have an excellent holiday. One tradition we have is watching a collection of holiday movies. While we will watch any, there are a couple that are on our “Must Watch” list every year, so much so that we purchased them on DVD in case we can’t find them on cable or satellite. We pop up some popcorn, curl under blankets, and sip hot chocolate as we watch. For us, this is better than any gift.
  6. Now, I know what some people may be thinking at this point—that all of that sounds good, but little children do not understand and will be disappointed. Okay, so this is where teaching moments about materialism come into play and help shaping values. Additionally, there are other ways to combat this. My child has a summer birthday, which meant most of her friends were away on summer vacation and wasn’t around for her birthday. Plus, family lived in a different town, which could make travel an issue at times. Since birthday parties were difficult to arrange due to these factors, the tradition was developed to spend the day doing fun activities. Over the years, we attended plays, visited museums and planetariums, had picnics, went on boat rides, etc. Many of the activities we engaged in were either free or had minimum costs. The same could be done for the holidays—driving around town and viewing decorations, going caroling, baking holiday cookies, playing in the snow (if you have snow), making crafts, refurbishing old toys to make them better, etc. Children may play with toys or wear clothes for a season, but they will always cherish fond memories.
  7. Now, this isn’t for everyone as I know plenty of people who are opposed to decorating or believe that decorating is only for children. In fact, a coworker proclaimed that since her children were grown that she was “past decorating.” I don’t know where the idea came from that decorating was only for children. If that were the case, the billion-dollar holiday decorations retail industry has it all wrong and has been making their money on a fluke. Literally, every time I hear this, my mind automatically pictures Charles Dicken’s Scrooge character. (Btw, that is one of the movies on our “Must Watch” list.) Decorating and making a home or a workplace festive can bring a great deal of joy.
  8. This may sound a bit odd, but invest in a sunlamp. If it is the darkness that has your mood sinking this time of year, some experts suggest using at-home portable sunlamps as an option for combating seasonal depression.
  9. Ditch dieting but adapt a good diet. Everyone knows dieting during the holidays is nearly always a bust. So, forget about it. Eat in moderation, but if you fall off the wagon with the strawberry cheesecake or haystacks, save the guilt and dieting for New Years. That being said, do try to maintain a healthy diet during the holidays. It’s so very easy to snack instead of consuming a “real meal.” A balance diet helps keep one’s energy up and avoid sugar-crashes, stomach aches, and nightmares or insomnia.
  10. Remember to exercise. I know that’s a dirty word for some people, but exercising has been proven to increase endorphins which can improve mood (and memory). The positive aspect about exercising is that it can be done in a variety of ways from running to swimming to dancing to weightlifting to aerobics to yoga to sports. There literally are endless ways to work exercising into one schedule and most of these are free. (Don’t we all just love free?”)

I want to end on another less mentioned group are the people who become so invested in the holidays that they forget to enjoy them. They are super busy getting things organized or agonizing over having things perfect that they miss all the fun. The holidays become a source of stress and work.

One of the secretaries at work becomes bitter each year with decorating the office. She says it’s “unnecessary.” Mind you, she does not have to pay for any of the decorations; there aren’t many; and they are stored in clearly marked boxes with easy access. Because her desk is located in the lobby, she feels the entire lobby is her area and that employees and/or clients have no say (or interest) in what occurs there. She views anything holiday-related, whether it be to hang a wreath on the door, fill candy dishes with peppermints, or display received holiday cards, as work. When she’s asked to address and send holiday cards to other departments, she complains that it is a waste of paper.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, another employee always would take it upon herself to oversee the staff Christmas party. She would schedule the date and time and rally for other employees’ participation. However, she often went overboard to the point that she drove her coworkers to the brink of insanity with her persistence that they give her answers so that she could micromanage every part of the party. Before long, she could suck the fun out of anything, and ultimately, she didn’t enjoy any of it herself.

I’m convinced that between these two examples, there is a middle ground where holiday peace and harmony exist. Not everything has to be perfect. In fact, perfection can sometimes be found in imperfection. The most horrible, misshapen dessert may be the one that tastes the best.

So, that’s all that I have. Are you a fan of sports romance? What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with these points? Did you find any of this information helpful? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comment section. If you like this post, please click the like button and share it. If you’re not following me on Creole Bayou blog, what are you waiting for? There’s always room at the bayou.

Penalty Kill, book #4 in the Locker Room Love sports romance series is now available for purchase. Grab your copy at Amazon or at https://books2read.com/penaltykill for more options. Continue reading for the blurb and more information.

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.

Order your copy at:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ex0N9p
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/ B08YMYZF2S
Other book sellers: https://books2read.com/penaltykill
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3ex0N9p
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/30zhdWC
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3vjFmP6
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/3cjyFnE
iTunes: http://apple.co/30xulf0
Nook: http://bit.ly/3bEi0w4
Kobo: http://bit.ly/30CNe00

Missed the three in my hockey romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box (book #1), where it is one minute in the box or a lifetime out, is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. For more links where to purchase or to read the blurb, please visit http://bit.ly/2i9SqpH.

Defending the Net (book #2) can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Ice Gladiators (book #3) is the third book in my Locker Room Love series. When the gloves come off, the games begin. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

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.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors or BookBub.

NEWSLETTER! Want to get the latest information and updates about my writing projects, giveaways, contests, and reveals first? Click https://genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com/newsletter/ and signup today.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Laissez le bon temps rouler.

Happy Leif Erickson Day! (Puzzle Contest)
Saturday, October 9th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Charlene Whitehouse!
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What? You didn’t know it was a thing? Neither did I, but when you do a search on holidays when you don’t want to think too hard about what you’re going to blog about… Well, Leif Erickson Day seemed like a GREAT IDEA!

Who was Leif? A Viking! An explorer! He’s credited with bringing the first colonists to North America around 1000 A.D. Who celebrates his day? Some folks in the U.S., Canada, and in Nordic communities. Since I’m 8% Norwegian (as verified through my Ancestry.com profile!) I have an excuse for my long fascination with Vikings! Remember this book?

ConquestsClick on the cover!

Yeah, so how should you celebrate Leif Erickson Day? Why not emulate the man? Be bold today! Be adventurous! Have some mead with your dinner tonight and toast the brave explorer!

Puzzle Contest

For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift car, I want you to think for just a moment about what might be different about our lives now if Leif Erickson had been the “Big Discoverer” of America as opposed to Christopher Columbus. FUNNY ANSWERS APPRECIATED!