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!


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?



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


Tacos make everything a little better.



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.


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.


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?


Monday Mayhem – Affairs of the Heart


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.


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?



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!



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


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:





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.


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


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


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!


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.


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?


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.


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



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.


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



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!!



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:


Google Play:


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.


For more, here’s where to find her:






Teaser Tuesday – Sierra Donovan

What grown woman claims to have seen Santa Claus? Mandy Reese, for one—on a very special Christmas Eve when she was eight years old. These days, Mandy works at a year-round Christmas store in Tall Pine, California, where customers love to hear about her childhood encounter with Saint Nick. But when Jake Wyndham arrives in town—charming, gorgeous, extremely practical—Mandy faces a dilemma. Deny what she saw, or let Jake think she’s sugarplum crazy?

Jake scouts hotel locations all over the country, but he’s never met anyone quite like Mandy before. Her warmth and sparkle are irresistible, but…meeting Santa? Really? Jake’s no Scrooge but he’s definitely skeptical. Then again, there are all kinds of things Jake never experienced until he came to Tall Pine. Like autumn snow. Mind blowing kisses. And the magic of falling head-over-heels, madly in love…

COVER - Do You Believe in Santa


In my Teaser Tuesday excerpt, Jake is at Mandy’s house for the first time, looking over her movie collection for something to watch. The top shelf, she’s explained to him, is her “comfort food” – her all-time favorites. What she hasn’t told him yet is that she saw Santa as a child….


A movie collection, Jake decided, was a window to the soul.

He started with that top shelf. Casablanca, of course. He was pleased to find To Kill a Mockingbird there too. Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Princess Bride were obvious, female-friendly favorites. But there were a few surprises.

“The Godfather is comfort food?” he called out to the kitchen.

“Only the first one. But the other two have to go with it, because I didn’t want to separate them.”

“You’re a regular Library of Congress.” He stood and joined Mandy in the kitchen.

It didn’t look like she’d made any progress on the coffee yet. As he entered, she was transferring glasses from the sink to the dishwasher. She closed the dishwasher quickly.

“Something’s fishy,” he said.

She turned with a start. “What?”

“I don’t see any Christmas movies.”

She grinned. “There wasn’t room. I’ve got a whole separate box for those. They’re put away with the Christmas decorations.”

Jake folded his arms. “How many?”

She inclined her head, considering. “About forty. But that’s because I’m selective. Did you pick anything out?”

“Help me narrow it down. I can’t handle the responsibility.”

“You saw the favorites shelf.”

“That’s a pretty broad selection. What are you in the mood for?”

“Well …” She opened a cabinet and brought out a can of coffee. “Ghost might be my all-time favorite, but I’m not sure if you’d care for it. I’ve been trying to get Mrs. Swanson to watch it for years. She can’t get past the basic idea. She thinks, if it couldn’t happen, what’s the point in watching it?”

“That lets out a lot of movies. Especially if you count Pretty Woman.”

She started judiciously measuring coffee into the filter basket of the coffee maker. As she brought out another scoop of grounds, she eyed the size of the mound that crowned over the top of the scoop, then shook it to level it a little more before she dropped it into the filter.

So painstaking … and so irresistible.

Jake stepped behind her and spoke just above her ear. “Ghost is fine with me,” he said. “Believe it or not, I’ve never seen it. Something about Demi Moore being haunted by her husband?”

He smoothed her hair back, tucking it behind her ear. A delicate gold pine tree earring dangled from her earlobe. It shimmered when his fingers brushed it.

Mandy measured out another scoop of coffee, not so precisely this time. “I can’t concentrate if you do that.”

“That’s the idea.” He moved his lips downward and kissed her ear. She gave a little shudder that triggered a matching shudder of his own. She relaxed against him. He closed his eyes and buried his face against the side of her neck, drinking in the scent of whatever it was she wore, that delicious hint of spice. For several exquisite moments, he didn’t move, just standing there with her, hearing her breathe.

Then she stepped away and carried the coffee carafe to the sink to fill it with water.

“Seriously, though,” she said. “Have you ever wondered what you’d do in a situation like that?”

He was crushed that she’d kept her train of thought. He’d certainly lost his. “Like what?”

“If you were a character in a movie like that. With ghosts, or angels, or … whatever.”

Her tone was offhand. Her back was turned, so he couldn’t see her expression. “How would you handle it?”

“Handle what?”

“What if you saw something you thought was impossible? You don’t believe in—say, ghosts, right?”

He blinked. “Right.”

She brought back the water, poured it into the coffee maker and switched it on. “So what would you do if you walked into your kitchen and a ghost was standing by the sink?”

She’d left him far behind. “I guess I’d figure it was my imagination.”

“But what would you do? They’re standing right there in front of you.”

“This is a weird conversation, Mandy.”

“Come on. Humor me. Think about it.”

“Okay.” He tilted his head back and squinted up at the ceiling. “If I could see through them, I’d know it was my imagination, or that I was dreaming. And I’d go back to bed. If they looked solid … I’d probably try talking to them and find out if they had the wrong house. But first I’d grab a baseball bat.”

It sounded reasonable to him. She didn’t seem satisfied. Jake had no idea what kind of an answer she was looking for.

“What would you do?” he asked.

“I think about it sometimes.” She watched the stream of coffee trickling into the clear carafe. “And I think … I think I might believe my own eyes.”

She looked at Jake again. The coffee maker chugged out its brewing noises.

He risked a smile. “Mandy, are you trying to tell me your kitchen is haunted?”

“No.” She returned his smile with a much smaller one of her own. “I was just kidding around.”

He had a feeling he’d failed an exam of some sort. And he wasn’t so sure that Mandy hadn’t seen a ghost in her kitchen.

Sierra Donovan is a wife, a mother of two and a writer, though not always in that order. Her greatest joy is helping people find true love on the printed page. She believes in classic movies, Christmas, happy endings and the healing power of chocolate.

Sierra’s first novel, LOVE ON THE AIR, was a Holt Medallion finalist. Her Kensington debut, NO CHRISTMAS LIKE THE PRESENT, won the Golden Quill for Sweet Traditional Romance. DO YOU BELIEVE IN SANTA?, out September 29th, is the first book in her new Evergreen Lane series.

You can email Sierra at, or visit her website at






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