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 sierra_donovan@yahoo.com, or visit her website at www.sierradonovan.com.

Website: http://www.sierradonovan.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sierra.donovan.romance

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SierraDonovan1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1191291.Sierra_Donovan

Blog: http://sierradonovan.blogspot.com

Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/Sierra-Donovan/e/B001JS7V54

Kensington Publishing author page: http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/author.aspx/30546

 

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Monday Mayhem – Remembrance

No writerly mayhem to report this week. Just want to wish my fellow Americans a blessed Memorial Day, and remind everyone to take a moment to think of all those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

poppy

Peace, my friends.

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Happy New Year!

special-quotes-for-new-year-2015 (800x450) - Copy

The Winner of The Last First Date and Lisa Fox’s fabulous One Kiss is:

Lindsay Cross!

Congratulations, Lindsay and thank you all for stopping by to check out my new blog. I hope to have more fun and giveaways for you all in 2015!

 

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Monday Mayhem – Diving Into December

If you need me, I’ll be over here having a nap…

Kidding. Actually, I had an awesome long weekend. Here’s my recap, complete with pictures!

Thanksgiving brunch was yummy.

toast

My baybeh came over to play

baybeh

I kept cranking away at the NaNoWriMo word count

count

Until I got this:

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

Then I spent some time doing this:

book

and this

oneclick

But there were still things to do. I had to finish a read through on Spring Chickens and do first-round edits on Going Deep

revision_006-450w

Then we made our annual contribution to the electric company

house

December will be the month of revision for me. I have 2 mostly complete manuscripts that are pretty darn messy. I have 2 websites I want to overhaul. I also have 2 releases to promote, 2 holiday parties on the same day…Oy. Maybe we can skip right to January?

How about you? Is your December shaping up to be crazy as well, or are you going low-key this holiday season?

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – As high as an elephant’s eye

Well, in truth I’m fairly crashed out. We just had the best dinner and I am stuffed to the gills.

The local grocery has a butcher who makes these fabulous chopped sirloin steaks edged in garlic and coarse pepper. When I was cruising the produce section to pick up Tim’s leaf lettuce (why else would I go there?), I spotted some fresh sweet corn on sale 3 ears for a buck. I had a bag of Yukon gold potatoes in the pantry and an envelope of Lipton onion soup mix in the cabinet.

The steaks were juicy and flavorful, the potatoes crisp, and the corn the sweetest I have tasted in a long time. In other words, it was the perfect storm of a meal.

So in addition to the better-than-George-Clooney-in-a-yellow-raincoat meal, here are four other highlights from a lovely holiday weekend:

  • On July 4th, someone who sounds a lot like me, but has a different name received their first recommended read on the USA Today Happily Ever After blog!
  • The clingy monkey boy wanted his Moogie when the big, mean fireworks scared him. Nothing beats having the little man you love choose you.
  • I had my annual July 4th viewing of The Music Man. Yes, I sang. No, Jewels, I didn’t record it. As for the rest of you, you’re welcome.
  • I wrote over 5k this weekend. And I have a crazy impulse to start an entirely different story tonight. Somebody stop me!

How about you? What were the highlights of your weekend?

 

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Monday Mayhem – Auld Lang Syne edition

Hard to believe that another year has passed, but here we are, two days from 2014. It seems trite to say it flew by, but in my case, a good chunk of it did. I spent a good portion of 2013 in airports and hotels. The new and increasing duties of the day job really cut into my energy and creativity this year, but I’ve come to terms with that. I may not write as much as quickly as I did a couple of years ago, but I like to think my writing has grown and improved.

2013 has been a year of change, growth and evolution in personal and professional lives, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for hanging in there with me. I would never have had the chutzpah to chase this dream without your encouragement, and I wouldn’t have the strength to endure those ups and downs without your continued support.

You are made of awesome.

So here are my final five for 2013. Cheers and have a safe and happy new year!

What I’ve been working on: Mainly, I’ve been just trying to get through the holidays. But just for fun, I started plotting, planning, and brainstorming a new set of books that revolve around a family that owns a small Chicago tavern. Maggie will probably end up stealing it, but what can you do? Saucy wench is stealing all my thunder lately.

What’s running around in the back of my mind: I really need to finish Containment. It’s still there, but December has been kind of an emotional month. Hard to motivate myself to write something so heavy at the moment.

What I’ve accomplished: Um…I finished revisions on a story I plan to submit in 2014. Oh, and Miss Maggie Wells may have a trick or two up her sleeve for this week.

What new goal I’m chasing: I plan to get back in the writing groove in January. Back to the 1k a day goal. That seemed to work for me. 🙂

What I saw: Everything that makes life sweet

sweetness

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Monday Mayhem – Throwback Edition

What I’ve been working on: I finished the first draft on Going Deep! Yay! Finally.

What’s running around in the back of my mind: It was a crazy busy week with work and travel and family and catching up with old friends. The front of my mind is too tired to deal with the back of my mind.

What I’ve accomplished: I’m on track (ish) for NaNo. I typed my two favorite words on the last page of Going Deep.

What new goal I’m chasing: I’m diving back into Containment in hopes of finding new inspiration. Wish me luck!

What I saw: Friends too fabulous to be called ‘old’ no matter how many years have passed.

IMG_1129

Special bonus! Here are the LAST five lines from the first draft of Going Deep:

Brooke drew back, ready to give him hell, but the sweet smile he wore grabbed her by the heart and squeezed. The indignation she should have felt was drowned in a hot rush of love. Brilliant or not, he was undoubtedly the dumbest man she knew when it came to women. A fact that made him all the more appealing in a twisted sort of way. Damn, she was in too deep.

Last, but certainly not least:

honor-guards-stand-on-duty-at-the-tomb-of-the-unknown-soldier-in-sept-2012-in-arlington-county-va

It’s Veteran’s Day here in the states. I’d like to say a special thank you to all the men and women who have served. We greatly appreciate you and the sacrifices you have made for our country. God bless.

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Monday Mayhem – Here we go NaNo!

What I’ve been working on: I’m still working on the marine biologist story. The darn thing just keeps going and I want to see where it ends up without my interference.

What’s running around in the back of my mind: Holy crap November is busy! There’s work and writing and laundry and travel and birthdays. Not to mention Thanksgiving and the DSRA book signing. Sheesh! I think we need to spread this month out a bit. We’re four days in and I’m exhausted.

What I’ve accomplished: I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year. Because I am crazy. And because it’s my fifth year and I don’t want to break the streak. So far I’m on track. I consider that an accomplishment. Check with me on day 20.

What new goal I’m chasing: 50,000 words in 30 days!

What I saw: The inside of many, many conference rooms. And a sweet pea in a pod.

photo(18)

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Random recipe share

I’m getting in the Halloween mood, so I thought I would share a couple of fun to make treats with you.

First up: Scary Spiders

6oz chocolate chips
6oz butterscotch chips
salted peanuts
chow mein noodles
and candy for the eyes (since they don’t sell the little silver balls nymore, I used Nerds)

Melt the chips over low heat, stir in penuts and noodles and stir until coated. Drop by teaspoon onto wax paper and add candy eyeballs. My hubby likes to add extra chow mein legs because it tickles him. He’s cute, so I let him get away with it. Here are some pics:

spiders!
lots o spiders

And now my claim to fame: Bloody Ladyfingers

Any shortbread cookie recipe will work. I use:
2 sticks butter
1/2c Confectioners sugar
1/4c Corn starch
1 1/2c All purpose flour
Sliced almonds
Red decorator gel

Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until firm but not golden.

Mix dough and roll into finger length ropes. Press a sliced almond into the end of each finger for the nail:
press
fingernails

Use a toothpick to press three slight indentations into the middle of each finger for the knuckles:
knuckles

Bake and remove to rack to cool completely.

On a sheet of wax paper, smear the end of each finger with decorator gel for blood. We like to add little extras, as if she tried to put up a fight…
a phalanx of phalanges
bloody!

What do you think of my lovely assistant? Nice hands, huh? There you have it, a glimpse into the sick and twisted mind of the Bloody Ladyfinger Lady.

Boo! Skeered ya, didn’t I?

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O Canada!

O Canada! La la la la la la…. O Canada!

La la la la la la. La la la la la, la la la la la, la la la la la la la….

We stand on guard for thee!

canadian-flag

So yeah. It’s Canada Day, and as an HonoUrary Canuck, I thought it would be cool to have my Canadian friend and anthology buddy, Evelyn Jules, stop by to entertain you.

You got your party toque on? Excellent! Say good day, eh!

****

Hello there, everyone! Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canucks out there, and Happy Monday to the rest of you! J

I’m a quirky girl. Some might even call me a bit of a clown. I love to juggle, I’ve been on a flying trapeze, and at the very top of my ‘things Evelyn must own’ list is a unicycle. Most of the time I’m loud and proud, but sometimes I’m awfully quiet too. Like a mime. It’s possible I took a four week introduction to physical theatre (aka: miming) course.

Here’s the funny thing. Margaret is kind of (or a lot) afraid of mimes and clowns. She’s also a very close friend of mine. Like an older sister, you might say. And since we’re like sisters we enjoy tormenting each other…which brings me to my reason for being here today. One day I heard that Turquoise Morning Press was putting together a collection of wedding-themed stories. I decided to write a love story about a mime and a clown. Then I laughed at myself because I think I’m pretty funny and stuff. But then I stopped laughing because OMG, this was a brilliant idea! So I found a scrap piece of paper and started jotting down all the bits of plot and dialogue that were floating and bouncing and cartwheeling in my head. And then I pitched my idea, including stick figure art, to the collection editor, and instead of shipping me off to the loony bin, she actually LIKED the idea. She liked it so much she actually gave me a spot in the collection!

Now, back to Margaret. Part of the reason why I wrote the story was to drive Margaret crazy. But you know what? Something amazing happened in the end. She liked it too! That’s when I knew I had to share it with the world. It’s not a dirty story. Shocking, I know. It’s actually a beautiful love story of two circus freaks…Oh, hell, just read the blurb.

All Action, No Talk

Alice Moore is a clown . . . in love with a mime.

Her parents have never approved of her circus-oriented lifestyle and in effort to deter her from wasting her life clowning around, they set her up with family friend, Grant Humphrey. A practical man. A businessman. And the last man on earth she wants to marry, but here she is, marching down the aisle toward him.

Alex Holiday is a mime . . . in love with a clown.

He’s silently followed Alice from venue to venue on the circus circuit, working alongside her, worshiping her in secret. He’s never been able to tell her how he feels . . . until now. When he catches wind of the upcoming wedding, he vows to put a stop to it. But will his objection be too late?
I have cover art too!

WeddingCollection_MD

 

The best part about being in this collection is that I get to share it with Margaret. Her story, Always the Groomsman, kicks things off to a hilarious start! I hope you all get yourselves a copy! And remember, clowns and mimes deserve love too.

Now, tell me, what’s the strangest romantic pairing you’ve ever written or read about it?

The Wedding Day Collection is available at these fine retailers:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Wedding-Day-Collection-ebook/dp/B00DF2IJOE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371389617&sr=8-1&keywords=the+wedding+day+collection+margaret

Turquoise Morning Press Bookstore: http://www.turquoisemorningpressbookstore.com/products/the-wedding-day-collection-anthology

All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-theweddingdaycollection-1222660-166.html

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-wedding-day-collection-margaret-ethridge/1115674093?ean=2940016477282

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