Monday Mayhem – A Grateful Nation

A grateful nation

Today, a grateful nation remembers all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in order to defend and protect our country. I think we can all agree that there are many, many things wrong with they way things are in our country, but there are also many, many things that are right about being an American.

Today, I will honor those men and women by focusing on the things I love about America. We can all go back to arguing about what’s wrong tomorrow.

America – Hell yeah! or 10 Things Maggie is grateful for:

1) Hot dogs. I love them. I particularly love them charred on the grill with charred buns. If I had to request one last meal, I would ask for two all-beef hot dogs burnt to a crisp and served on over-toasted buns, Lays BBQ potato chips, a Diet Coke, and some Toll House cookies. Proving that I am the most American of American girls.

2) Opinions. I’ve got ’em, you’ve got ’em, and we’ve got the right to air them. The good, the bad, and the Potter-inspired.

Protest

3) S’mores. Need I say s’more?

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4) Ice. We have it, we love it, we have opinions on the subject (see #2). This is a picture of pellet ice, aka ‘the good ice’. We have all the good ice anyone could want, and we aren’t afraid to use it.

the good ice

5) We smile a lot. I’m told other cultures find Americans a tad too friendly. I find this is a flaw I can live with.

6) The Chicago Cubs. Okay, maybe not all Americans love the Cubs, but the really friendly ones with the good ice and charred hot dogs do. Just my opinion.

Cubs Win - Fans holding W signs

7) Optimism. Say what you want about all that’s wrong, but we still believe everything can be fixed. One day, we may even agree on how. That’s how optimistic I am.

8) The freedom to be/do anything you want to be or do. Even if it makes no damn sense. People forget this is not an option in many parts of the world. Go. Be. Do. It’s never too late. Hey, look at this – I’m an author! And I didn’t write my first book until after the age of 40.

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9) The pursuit of happiness. Americans excel at this one. Sometimes, it may be viewed as self-indulgent, but I think chasing happiness is a good thing. It leads us to doing things that can be good for us, like yoga, meditation, journaling, or petting plastic flamingos whilst drinking ice-cold American beer.

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10) Americans. Those everyday people who show their teeth and believe they hold the winning lottery ticket. The ones toasting marshmallows with their grandkids, or sassing the color commentators when the game isn’t going their team’s way.  Those hot dog loving, ice chomping, obnoxiously opinionated, optimists who believe the American dream is not dead.

A grateful nation thanks you.

For making it possible for us to enjoy these simple things. We promise to keep tackling the tough ones. Rest in peace.

 

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Monday Mayhem – The High Life

Happy Labo(u)r Day, you working stiffs (I added the U for the Canadians)! I have spent most of my long weekend not laboring, and I have to tell you, I’m pretty good at it.

Fodder and I ran away to Hot Springs for a night. This is the closest you will ever see me come to touching an actual bird. As always, the can Miller High Life is a homage to my grandmother, for whom I am named.

I’ve been thinking about my grandma a lot this weekend. She’s been gone since I was in college, but occasionally, flashes of memory pop up. This weekend, I found myself thinking about her hands.

My grandparents were already in their seventies when I was born, so in my mind, Grandma’s hands were already a map of blue veins under paper-thin skin. Her knuckles were swollen with arthritis, and she always wore a dark blue star sapphire ring that spun on her pinkie finger.

When you walked into their living room, there was a good chance you’d find Lawrence Welk on the TV, a can of Miller High Life (the champagne of beers) on the side table, and an embroidery hoop on her lap.

This was Margaret Carbery, in her natural habitat.

My grandmother had both cataracts and glaucoma. The bit in Sixteen Candles where Molly Ringwald’s character complains about being felt up by her grandmother?

Yeah…All the time. Our conversations usually started like this:

“Margaret Mary? Is that you?” *grope-grope-grope* “Well, it’s not Jimmy, Grandma.”

By the end of her life, she had little vision left, but more often then not, you would still find her sitting in her chair under the light with the tiffany-esque shade, embroidering pillowcases. She gave them to people as gifts. In our house, they weren’t kept as heirlooms. We used them every day. I don’t think I rested my head on a pillow that wasn’t enrobed in a case hand-stiched by my grandmother until I was in my twenties. I have a couple of sets stashed away:

 

I don’t have many pictures of my grandmother. Even fewer have been scanned into the computer, but she is still fresh in my mind. If you need a visual, here’s a photo of her (the lady in white with the big old star sapphire on her pinkie) dancing a hula with Don Ho at the Polynesian Palace:

That’s what we Margarets do. We live the high life.

Rest well today, my friends, for tomorrow we are back to laboring!

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Monday Mayhem – First Christmas

I confess, I am writing this post way early. You see, this past weekend was my first Christmas of the season. As I type this, I’m plotting and planning for the 9 hour ride to see my family. Chaos will ensue on Saturday, then we drive back Sunday. I figure I probably won’t have the energy to post when I get home, so here I am, writing like it’s Monday on a Thursday night.

How’s your December going?

Mine has been incredibly busy. Major changes at the day job this month and next month will keep me hopping. I’m also doing the behind the scenes stuff for the Play Dates series starting next fall, and one day hope to actually finish the book I started writing in November.

Oh! And I re-released Long Distance Love! Look at this gorgeous cover. If you haven’t read Jack and Ellie’s story, you need to. Grab your copy today!

Amazon ~ Apple~ B&N ~ Smashwords

Other bright spots this week included some quality time with a dog and her chicken:

And my friend, Kendra, gave me a Tribble!

Okay, it’s just one of those puffy keychains, but I like to think it’s a Tribble. What’s bright and shiny in your world this week?

 

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Monday Mayhem – Eeep! It’s December!

Yeah, so super fast post because it has been a super crazy week and I am super tired. I’ve been keeping up with my #31brightspots, though I admit some days have been a little darker than others. Here are a few highlights:

Long, frustrating day at work, but I came home to this

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Tacos make everything a little better.

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Truth.

Lolled in my warm bed with a hot book on this cold morning. Now, lunch with my girls.

Best way to spend a Saturday morning, in my opinion.

And the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon is with my Diamond State Romance Author pals. Here’s a picture of me and Brinda Berry. I may or may not have been squeezing her knee under the table. A lady never tells.

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And Sunday was spent preparing for Christmas. The house is decorated outside and in. Any my little angel helped his doting granddad put his Great-grandma Willene’s angel atop the tree.

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As I type this, we’re just home from attending a living Christmas tree concert and ready to collapse. That was my jam-packed week. What happened in yours?

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Monday Mayhem – Affairs of the Heart

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Like contemporary romance? I’m participating in the Affairs of the Heart Valentine’s giveaway February 8 – 15th, and we’ll be giving away tons of awesome books and a Kindle! This includes my book, GOING DEEP!

Enter today and tell all of your romance loving things!

It was migraine week in Magsland, which means very little got done. I did, however, finish Chapter Seven of RANSOMED HEART. That puts me at the 1/3 point. I’ve discovered a lot about my characters that I didn’t know before. That means, I’ll be spending a good chunk of this week tearing apart what I have, tightening the story arc, and exploring some of that uncharted territory.

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I’ll also be ordering a big tin of Garrett’s Mix for my beloved. How about you? Making big plans for hearts and flowers day?

 

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Monday Mayhem – The last of 2015

I know I said I’d post my 2015 happiness list this week, but I forgot I’d be doing the holiday travel thing and I might end up with more good things to add to the jar, so I think I’ll save that for the first post of 2016.

I’m hoping your holidays have been fabulous so far, and I wish you nothing but health and happiness in the new year!

2015 has been the most fantastic roller coaster ride. Here are a few random photos I’ve posted through the year. Thank you so much for coming along with me!

xoxo

Mags

KaysonChipssign2 GG and Colin bar Rush1shoulders IMG_0980 IMG_1026 BeBe (2) sara pbpie IMG_1283 - Copy Me & Tim FullSizeRender(1) xmas1 DSRA2015 IMG_1440

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Monday Mayhem – Welcome to the world

It’s that time of year again…those crazy few weeks when ‘I have revisions’, ‘this book is going to galley’, and ‘I need to write this proposal’ are not counted as valid excuses for avoiding the world and all around me.

I do have revisions to do, and a book going to galley, and the first few pages of a proposal started, but those things count for nothing when this needs to be done:

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xmas1

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I also need to attend to some shopping and baking. Somewhere out there, some poor, unsuspecting Christmas tree is out there just waiting to be dragged home and dressed up in a decades-old collection of mismatched ornaments.

The revisions, galley, and proposal will have to take a backseat for a few weeks. The holidays are upon us, and I have a candy apple red KitchenAid that needs to be christened.

mixie

To all my friends who celebrate Hanukkah, I wish you the happiest of holidays.

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The rest of you…well, on your marks, get set, GO!

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Monday Mayhem – NoMoWriMo!

Well, this is it. The last day of NaNoWriMo for 2015. I’m happy to announce that I verified my word count yesterday and have completed my seventh challenge!

NaNo-2015-Winner-Banner

Also, in the course of NaNoing, I FINALLY typed ‘The End’ on the first draft of LOVE AND ROCKETS!

the end

Every year, I tell myself I won’t do it again. Who needs the worry? The stress? The sore wrists and fingers? Then, every year, I sign in, sign up, and get going again. Unlike the first time I did it, I know now that what I have at the end of NaNoWriMo is far from being ready to go out into the world. Thirty days and nights of literary abandon is great for writing, but doesn’t make for good reading.

Trust me on this.

For this reason, I have deemed December has become EditThisCrapMo. There are three stages to this process.

1) Distance. I can’t look at this book anymore. I can’t think about it. I just need to put it out of my mind and play with some other idea for a while. Believe me, it’s for the best that these characters and I go to our separate corners for a while.

2) Clarity. There are two parts to this one. The first part is acknowledging that a good portion of what I churned out in November is crap. But, even better, is coming to the realization that the majority of it is not-quite-crap. Crap gets cut, but I can work with not quite crap.

3) Reading like a reader. I think this is the most important step for any author. I read through the entire steaming pile before I make any drastic decisions. What might look like a dangling plot line at first glance, might be transformed into an additional layer of conflict, or a set up for future series installments. Reading like a reader means I have to look at the hot mess of a novel a whole before I tear it to shreds.

This is what I’ll be doing this month.

And shopping. Picking out a tree, decorating, and going to holiday parties. I’m also hoping to catch a few of my holiday favorites, now that I’m not in full-on writing frenzy. I always look for Holiday Inn, Going My Way, and the original Miracle on 34th Street when I’m cruising the listings.

Oh! The Grinch. Boris Karloff, not Jim Carrey. And, I love the one with Heat Miser and Snow Miser. Of course, it’s not Christmas until Lucy and I extort a few nickels from the mister.

lucy

Oh, and the baking! My 17 year-old stand mixer is moaning and groaning. The knobs have all cracked and been super glued. The plastic coating on my flat beater is worn through. I think I need this sexy beast as an early Christmas gift, don’t you?

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Looking for a quick and easy recipe for the office party? Try these Magic Cookie Bars. Even my coconut-hating hubby eats these tasty tidbits.

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What’s your plan of attack for the holiday season? Got any yummy recipes you want to share?

 

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Monday Mayhem – Thank you

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the States, and I want to tell you that I am thankful for each and every one of you. Thank you for being a part of my life. Here’s hoping the coming year is filled with popcorn, jelly beans, toast, and pretzels sticks.

thanksgiving

And if there’s an ice cream sundae sitting around, make sure you eat it too!

xoxo
Mags

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Teaser Tuesday – A Heartwarming Christmas!

Hi, everyone. It’s great to be here today! But how can it be November already? Thanksgiving isn’t far away now and then the Christmas season begins. I can feel time racing toward the holidays, but I haven’t even thought about turkey or gift shopping yet!

 

In the meantime, however, I’m thrilled to report that A Heartwarming Christmas has made the USA Today Bestseller List!!

heartwarming

 

This holiday season, warm your heart with 12 wholesome holiday romances from 12 Harlequin Heartwarming writers who are USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors.

There are four connected anthologies in A Heartwarming Christmas. That means each set of three novellas shares characters and storylines all set in Christmas Town, a location introduced in the 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release, Christmas, Actually. This year’s A Heartwarming Christmas will bring you laughter, tears, and happily-ever-afters (no cliffhangers), for more than 1200 pages. Foreword by small town lover and New York Times bestseller Kristan Higgins.

 

In my novella, “His Christmas Gift,” Cara Crawford, who runs a tree lot, doesn’t want to have Christmas this year. But park ranger Brady Sullivan has other ideas. And determination is his middle name.

 

After a scandal years ago ended Brady’s dream to play in the NFL, he left Christmas Town. Now twelve years later, he’s back to clear the record. Unfortunately, his estranged family is nowhere to be found. And Cara, the sister of the woman whose life Brady supposedly destroyed years ago, still blames him for what happened then.

 

It’s up to Brady to tell Cara too the truth at last. Can he convince her he was innocent all along? And win not only Cara’s trust—but also, this time, her love?

 

Here’s a brief excerpt from the story:

 

A sharp rap at her front door made Cara almost drop her cup.

Who could be here this late at night?

“Delivery,” Brady said in her doorway. “Got your tree for you. A rescue.” He shouldered his way inside with a gorgeous, bushy seven-foot scotch pine.

“Do you know what time it is?” Cara asked.

“Time to pretty up this baby. Go get your decorations.”

“Has anyone ever told you you’re pushy?”

“You need pushy.”

Cara glanced at her teacup on the table. He wasn’t taking no for an answer. She didn’t really want him to.

“You wait any longer,” he said, “Christmas will be over.”

And Brady would be gone. She had to remember that as well as the heartache he’d caused her sister years ago.

Yet Cara couldn’t deny they had fun while Brady set the tree in its stand then helped her hang ornaments—so many she’d loved in years past—and, finally, sprinkled the pine with old-fashioned tinsel.

Before she knew it, he’d playfully tossed a few strands at her hair. His laughter warmed her heart and Cara couldn’t help but join in. She had no choice but to return the favor until they both looked as glittery as the tree.

“You actually like this,” she said, feeling breathless. “Some men don’t. My father never put the lights on our tree without having a meltdown.”

“Christmas has always been my favorite time of year.” He grinned. “Snow, presents, wreaths and candles…family all around. What’s not to like?”

Cara wondered why Brady was staying then at the Pine Tree Inn instead of at his parents’ home, but she hesitated to ask and break the mood they’d shared. And Brady had stopped laughing. The moment hung between them like the silver star he’d fastened to the top of the tree. With a slightly shaky hand, he reached out to pull a piece of tinsel from her hair, his touch lingering.

“I like you all…sparkly,” he murmured, his voice husky. “I like you, Cara.”

 

The whole set of 12 novellas is for sale now at the incredible price of $.99! Get your copy today before the price goes up. Buy Links for A Heartwarming Christmas:

 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1TDjGEK
iTunes: http://apple.co/1OkXsV9
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1CEnSA7
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1J0Qg08
B&N: http://bit.ly/1LaVnNT

 

Bio: Leigh Riker can’t imagine anything better than to curl up with a good romance novel to read—unless it is to write one! She loves being a Harlequin Heartwarming author. When not working, she likes to garden, play the piano, and travel. At home in the Southeast, with her Maine Coon cat perched on her desk for inspiration, she is at work on her new HW novel, Lost and Found Family, to be published in April 2016.

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For more, here’s where to find her:

Website: http://www.leighriker.com

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lbrwriter/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@lbrwriter

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LeighRikerAuthor

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