SlingWords Honor Roll: 78 Author Guest Stars

As 2014 comes to a close, I want to honor my guests, my All Star Authors who appeared on SlingWords in 2014 -- either with a Guest Post, a Dirty Dozen Interview, or a Thursday3Some Book Spotlight.

Applause Please

In 2014, I had the privilege of welcoming NOT 78 as the title of this post says, BUT 86 authors to SlingWords.

(What can I say? It's late. I'm number challenged.) A few of these authors -- real go-getters -- appeared multiple times.

Readers, This Is For You

After you read this post and scroll through the list of authors, go straight to Comments for a special treat.

Book Deals Just for You

I've invited all these authors to leave a comment with a book that they'd like to recommend to you -- because it's free or discounted, a new release, or a book that's proved popular with readers. You'll see the author's name, book title, a 1 sentence blurb, and 1 buy link posted by some of these All Star Authors -- just in case you're interested in grabbing one last book for 2014 to go with your glass of bubbly.

These comments and book listings will be ongoing from the time this post publishes until the first post of 2015 goes up. (That will happen around noon on Jan. 1, 2015, since I plan to sleep late after my New Year's Eve party.)

The 2014 SlingWords Honor Roll

Alphabetized by first name because that was the easiest word processing sort, and I'm all about easy.

Andrea Cooper
Angela Quarles
Annette Drake
Ashley York
Barb Caffrey
Beppie Harrison
Brenda Jernigan
Carol DeVaney
Carole Price
Caroline Clemmons
Cathy Perkins
Cheryl Bolen
Cynthia Wicklund
Daryl Devore
David Russell
Donna Cummings
Donna Fasano
E. Ayers
Elaine Raco Chase
Elaine Violette
Erin Moore
Gerry Bartlett
Helena Fairfax
Ilona Fridl
J. J. DiBenedetto
Jacqueline Patricks
Jacquie Rogers
Jan Scarbrough
Jana Richards
Jean Joachim
Jeanine McAdam
Jen J. Danna
Jill Hughey
Jina Bacarr
JoAnne Myers
Judythe Morgan
Juli D. Revezzo
Kara O'Neal
Karen McCullough
Kathryn Jane
Kelly Rae
Kimberley Trouette
Kristy Tate
L. C. Hayden
Lacy Williams
Laura Haley-McNeil
L. A. Sartor
Libby Malin
Lily Bishop
Linda Bennett Pennell
Lisa Chalmers
Liv Rancourt
Liz Flaherty
Lynn Crain
Mageela Troche
Margaret Fieland
Martha O'Sullivan
Mary Caelsto
Melanie Greene
Mickie Sherwood
Mina Khan
Nicole Zoltack
P. J. MacLayne
Pamela S. Thibodeaux
Paty Jager
Penny Estelle
Rachael Kosinski
Rebecca Thomas
Rebekah R. Ganiere
Shannyn Schroeder
Sharon Ervin
Sheila Parker
Shelley Munro
Shirley Hailstock
Stacy Juba
Stephanie Queen
Susan Sofayov
Susan C. Muller
Susan Oleksiw
Susan R. Hughes
T. J. Bennett
Tara Manderino
Veronica Scott
Victoria Adams
Violet Blake
Wareeze Woodson

Takeaway Truth

SlingWords is a labor of love for me. Yes, it's usually a lot of work, but I love being able to share what I'm reading, watching, or writing. Also, I love introducing new authors and books to the reading world which comprises most of the readership for this blog.

So look for more of all of the above in 2015. Happiest of New Year's to you!

12 Authors & Christmas Yet To Come

Ah, let's talk about The Future. That's what The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come is all about.

Today is the day before New Year's Eve. What better time to reflect on the Future -- the Christmas Yet To Come, as Dickens eloquently named it in A Christmas Carol?

Many people fear the Future because it's all about change. Nothing stays the same as Father Time marches on. One can be dragged along kicking and screaming, or one can plan for the change. Embrace it. Celebrate it.

Before tomorrow arrives, when we'll be eating, drinking, and generally making nuisances of ourselves, join me and some of my author friends as we look forward to the year ahead... to the Christmas Yet To Come.

Nicole Zoltack is the author of Love Before Honor. A medieval knight and a Regency lady find themselves together one Christmas, for better or for ill.

Nicole Looks Ahead: Christmas Yet To Come

For a future Christmas, I'd love for our family to be complete. We would love to have another child. We have three boys already, so I'd especially love to have a little girl, but as long as the baby is healthy, that's all that matters.

Buy Love Before Honor by Nicole Zoltack: Amazon Kindle * B&N Nook * iBooks

Judythe Morgan is the author of Claiming Annie’s Heart. Sometimes your heart knows what’s best.

Judythe Looks Ahead: Christmas Yet To Come

By next Christmas, I hope to finally have written my Christmas novel. The last novella in the Fitzpatrick family novellas. I'd wanted to have it out this year, but I broke my wrist and couldn't type fast enough. Now I have something to wish for next Christmas.

Buy Claiming Annie's Heart: Amazon Kindle * -  B&N Nook or Paperback * iBooks

Liv Rancourt is the author of The Santa Drag. Santa has a secret only true love can reveal.

Liv Looks Ahead: Christmas Yet To Come

I wish that... everyone in the world will have access to fresh water and good food... everyone in the country will be able to marry who they want, without artificial limits that are a carry-over from different times... everyone here at Chez Rancourt will move closer to their dreams... that my daughter will find her way as she faces high school graduation... that my son will rock his sophomore football season with a 4.0 GPA... and that my husband will have enough work to keep himself out of trouble.

Finally, I wish my stories will reach new readers, making them laugh and think and giving them a break from everyday life. Peace ~Liv

Buy The Santa Drag by Liv Rancourt: Amazon Kindle

Laura Haley McNeil is the author of Crystal Creek Christmas, Book 2: Crystal Creek Series. Another man placed a diamond ring on Noelle’s finger, but that doesn’t stop the feelings she’s harboring for Dr. Jake Whitloch.

Laura Looks Ahead: Christmas Yet To Come

A few years ago, my husband and I spent a couple of weeks in Prague. It has always been our dream to return and live there for awhile.

Prague is a beautiful city with wonderful people. I always thought it would be the perfect setting for a romantic suspense novel.

Buy Crystal Creek Christmas by Laura Haley McNeil: Amazon Kindle

Kelly Rae is the author of Every Other Wedding, Book 2: One Day at a Wedding. What is Dan to do when he finds the woman of his dreams -- just as his life is falling apart?

Kelly Looks Ahead: Christmas Yet To Come

Looking ahead to next years Christmas, I have a few goals and dreams I will be working towards. By this time next year I would like to make a big book list; USA Today Best Sellers and/or New York Times Best Seller. The lists are important, not necessarily for the notoriety, as much as it means that my work, my writing, is reaching more people. It would mean that my stories are resonating with a mass audience, who liked my book enough to tell a friend or make it their book club book for the month. It's every writer's dream, I think, for people to fall in love with their characters and stories; the same way they did when they were writing them. So, my goal in one year is to have hit a major list and be the kind of writer who makes a career out of touching people's hearts!

Buy Every Other Wedding by Kelly Rae: Amazon Kindle

Martha O'Sullivan is the author of Chance Encounter, Chances trilogy #2. Will time run out for Mike Savoy when blackmail turns to ransom and will Delaney Richards' trusting heart betray her again or save her life?

Martha Looks Ahead: Christmas Yet To Come

This time of year we often find ourselves concerned with reflection and resolution. And in so doing, the past invariably come to mind. But since you can’t know where you’re going without knowing where you’ve been, I can’t think about Christmases Yet To Be without first reminiscing about Christmases Past. My daughters are teenagers now, so Christmas has lost some of its magic. I feel like we’re in a holding pattern again, like newlyweds, with the joy of childhood Christmases behind us and the promise of Christmas as parents in front of us. After many years of enjoying Christmas morning at home, waking up in our own beds to a living room exploding with gifts from Santa, I find myself oddly looking forward to traveling at Christmas. And being a midwestern transplant in Florida I also find myself curiously wishing for snow on Christmas (just for that one day, then I’d give it back). And fortunately for me, our favorite place and one we hope to call home one day, usually obliges.

If you’ve read my books, you already know I’m talking about Lake Tahoe. A wintertime jaunt to the Sierras has eluded me to date, so I can only imagine the splendor of the milky-white mountain peaks giving way to the triple-tiered, snow-laden evergreens against the sapphire blue sky. And how the warm glow of dancing Christmas lights illuminates the blue corduroy runs and chalky slopes after the Alpenglow has put the star-scattered sky to bed. The third book in my Chances trilogy, Last Chance, takes place Lake Tahoe in the wintertime, and that took some real imagination on my part. I look forward to giving myself the gift of Christmas in Tahoe to see how I did. And hopefully someday share it with our grandchildren yet to come.

Merry Christmas to All!

Buy Chance Encounter by Martha O'Sullivan: Amazon Kindle * B&N * Red Sage

L.A. Sartor is the author of Forever Yours This New Year's Night, Book Two: Star Light~Star Bright Series (a Bestseller on Amazon). They have one week to complete their assignment, one week to trust each other, one week to fall in love.

L.A. Looks Ahead: Christmas Yet To Come

Christmas is my favorite holiday, hands down. It seems to be a more gentle time, or maybe I see this season through rose-colored glasses as the world in general is becoming more hostile. This next Christmas, I'll have the third book of the Star Light~Star Bright Series out. This one will be tough to write as it's Mitch's story. Mitch, who lost his sister to cancer, is now watching his brother-in-law fall in love again. Mitch isn't the nicest guy in my first book, Be Mine This Christmas Night, but as true to romance, his journey will allow him to find love and thus finally reconcile the fact that his brother-in-law didn't betray Mitch's sister's memory by falling in love again.

Love is a powerful healer. It's quite naive of me to assume that love can heal our hostile and fractured world, but Christmas is the season of hope, so for each Christmas Yet to Come, I hope for a healing, a gentleness to blanket all of us. Even Mitch. Happy New Year and here's to Christmas Yet To Come…2015
~L.A. Sartor

Buy Forever Yours This New Year's Night by L.A. Sartor: Amazon Kindle * Paperback from Amazon

Jina Bacarr is the author of Come Fly With Me, a sexy contemporary romance. When a bad boy billionaire hooks up with a lonely good girl on New Year’s Eve, anything can happen.

Jina Looks Ahead: Christmas Yet To Come

I want to continue the story of my heroine in Come Fly with Me and bring to life her story and her two sisters. I love stories about sisters and how different they can be, but in the end they stick together. I want to show how these three girls struggle to keep the family B&B from going belly up. Known affectionately as The 3 Bees, Bennett’s Bed & Breakfast is located in Forgotten Valley, a Shangri-La-like small town in Northern California. What better way to start the new year than in Shangri-La?

Buy Come Fly With Me by Jina Bacarr: Amazon Kindle/Kindle Unlimited

Rebekah Ganiere is the author of Jamen’s Yuletide Bride. When you leave a woman at the altar to become a Vampire Slayer, a simple apology isn’t enough to win her back.

Rebekah Looks Ahead: Christmas Yet To Come

I would love to see, next Christmas, myself with over two dozen books published. I published 6 this year and have 8 slated for next year. I have so many ideas in my head that I can’t spend years working on just one book. My goal is to have 4 more books in Fairelle, my Fantasy Fairytale Retelling series, released. As well as 2 more stories in my Otherworlder Series, and then 2 more that are due to my publisher from a third series. That would be the most wonderful gift of all next year.

Buy Jamen's Yuletide Bride by Rebekah R. Ganier: Amazon Kindle

Stacy Juba is the author of Twenty-Five Years Ago Today. When rookie obit writer and newsroom editorial assistant Kris Langley investigates the unsolved mystery of a young artist obsessed with Greek mythology, not only does she fall in love with the victim's sexy nephew, but she must also fight to stay off the obituary page herself.

Stacy Looks Ahead: Christmas Yet To Come

By next Christmas, my goal is to have released the first book and a couple of short stories in my new Storybook Valley romantic comedy series. I also want to have the next few novels in the series outlined and to have at least one of those books in the editing stages. One of the stories will have a Christmas theme, and I'm very much looking forward to writing that! I recently launched an editing business. By next Christmas, another one of my goals is to have helped many writers to develop and fine-tune their manuscripts.

One thing I'm asking Santa for that has nothing to do with my writing is for the bionic pancreas to be ready within the next couple of years. Engineers from Boston University have developed a bionic pancreas system that will greatly reduce the impact of diabetes on those who live with it every day. Adults and children who have participated in trials have reported that it is amazing, and I will be thankful when it is approved so that the burden of Type 1 Diabetes will be greatly reduced for my own child as well as all the other kids dealing with this disease. Other than a cure, that would be the best Christmas present that I could receive.

Buy Twenty-Five Years Ago Today by Stacy Juba: Amazon Kindle * B&N * iBooks

Mina Khan is the author of A Christmas Wish. Can one gigantic wrong lead to two rights and true love?

Mina Looks Ahead: Christmas Yet To Come

For me, the holiday season runs from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day, and is all about spending time with loved ones. It’s not about creating the perfect experience or lots of gifts, but being present and letting people you care about know that you love them. It’s not about what holiday you celebrate, it’s about who you celebrate with. It’s big, boisterous family gatherings and quiet, one-on-one moments. So my hope for Christmas Yet to Be is making wonderful memories with family.

Buy A Christmas Wish by Mina Khan: Amazon Kindle

Only 99cents
LuvU4Ever, a romance short story, is my latest release. Published on Christmas Eve, this begins a new short story series, A Moment in Time Romances. LuvU4Ever--that's what David promised--but how long is forever?

Joan Looks Ahead: Christmas Yet To Come

The last two years have been challenging for me because of major family crises. I haven't been able to follow through with my writing and publishing plans.

My plans for 2015 involve finishing these series: Texas One Night Stands and The Good, The Bad, and The Girly as well as publishing Cinderella Blue, the second, and what was to be the last book, in  the San Antone Two-Step series. (I've had a lot of emails asking that the characters first introduced in Nobody's Cinderella and continued in Cinderella Blue, be given stories of their own. I'll give serious thought to that.)

I also plan to write and publish another All Brides Are Beautiful Novella: You Had Me at White Roses and at least 3 more short stories in the new A Moment in Time Romance series begun with LuvU4Ever.

I'll continue writing and publishing SlingWords, my readers' newsletter WordPlay, and my writers' newsletter WritingHacks. Throw in a few goals about publishing print editions of all my ebooks and audio books of the new works, and I have enough work to last for 2+ years, not just one. How much will I manage to accomplish? I may blog about this occasionally in 2015.

Buy LuvU4Ever by Joan Reeves: Amazon Kindle * Smashwords * All Romance Ebooks * Kobo * Nook

Post Script

I want to remind you of the free book that's still in the Top 100 Decorating Books. I compiled Holiday Decorating as a companion book to the Christmas on Main Street Romance Collection.

Each of the authors in the Christmas Box Set contributed a favorite craft or holiday decorating idea to the book. You can even watch the YouTube video I created to show you what the craft book is about.

If you haven't downloaded Holiday Decorating, free to all, get it now. It's available at Amazon Kindle * iTunes * Kobo * Nook

Takeaway Truth

It's the Eve of New Year's Eve so I know you're looking ahead. May I encourage you to gird yourself in optimism? Be hopeful. Be happy.

3 Tips to an Awesome Profile or Biography

If you do anything on the Internet, then you probably are asked to post a profile or biography. Usually, this is optional, but why not take advantage of this branding opportunity?

If you're an author, absolutely post your biography or profile--and make it awesome. Here are 3 tips on how to do that.

Be A Tailor--Alter As Needed

1. When writing a biography or a profile, tailor your content to the intended audience.

If you are writing a bio for a book page on one of the popular book retailers like Amazon or Nook, make your profile match the tone of your book.

If your book is funny, your biography should be at least mildly humorous. If your book is a business book, your bio should offer credibility and be more serious in tone.

If you are writing a bio for a professional publication, make your profile business-like yet entertaining.

2. Don't tell every single detail about your education and achievements.

Give the high points and relevant aspects that give you credibility as it pertains to where your profile will be posted.

3. If you include personal information, be prudent.

There are two facts you should always keep in mind: (1) there are mentally unstable people out there and (2) if someone wants to find you, or someone you love, it's too easy given the Internet resources available for free or for a modest fee.

Takeaway Truth

Above all else, make the profile entertaining.

Long Live the Spirit of Christmas

Christmas is in our rear view mirror.

Tired from the holidays, a lot of people find themselves thinking, "Is that all there is?"

No, it's not.

The generosity and spirit of giving embodied by Christmas should be with us every day of the year. Mary Ellen Chase wrote, "Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind."

I challenge you to adopt that philosophy. Cultivate generosity. Give your time and love to those around your. If everyone did that, the world would be a far better place for all.

Takeaway Truth

If you're a fan of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, then heed what Dickens wrote, "I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."

Get Your Craft On: 3 Free Craft Books to Get Now

The popularity of crafts is a constant. Crafting hobbies may wane with changing times, but people always seem to make their way back to handcrafted items.

Most traditional crafts like knitting, sewing, woodworking, and crocheting are increasing in popularity. Even corporate business types like my husband have become interested in sustainable living, gardening, and other do-it-yourself projects.

Young People Like Handcrafting

My youngest daughter has mastered those three and makes amazing clothing and decorative items for the home. Since she's an artist who creates her own designs, she has certainly surpassed me in skills. She's also inspired me to jump back into hobbies, like sewing, that I once enjoyed.

With that thought in mind, I grabbed some free books over the holidays. You may think the books below are aimed at women, but let me assure you many men are also taking on knitting and sewing. (I remember when I was a kid, the rough, tough football pro Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier was "outed" for his cross stitch hobby. Did the gibes bother him? I don't think so. He laughed along with the critics.)

As of today, these books are still free so I wanted to recommend them to you.

3 Free Craft Books to Grab

Knitting: Box Set: The Complete Comprehensive Guide on Knitting by Susan Wilters

This box set will teach you how to knit. The three books are Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.

Regular price is $7.99. Today, it's still free. Get it quick.

How to Crochet: 16 Quick and Easy Granny Square Patterns by Prime Publishing

If you know how to crochet a Granny Square, you can make anything from a throw for the couch to a sweater.

How To Organize Your Room by Prime Publishing (Your Sewing Room, That Is)

Whether you're someone who wants to learn how to sew or a sewer with advanced skills, the first thing you need to do is find a space in your home for this hobby, and then organize that space. That's what this book will help you do.

Remember My Free Craft Book

I want to remind you of the free book that's still in the Top 100 Decorating Books. I compiled Holiday Decorating as a companion book to the Christmas on Main Street Romance Collection.

Each of the authors in the Christmas Box Set contributed a favorite craft or holiday decorating idea to the book. You can even watch the YouTube video I created to show you what the craft book is about.

If you haven't downloaded Holiday Decorating, free to all, get it now. It's available at Amazon Kindle * iTunes * Kobo * Nook

Takeaway Truth

Many readers now avoid free or low-priced books now. That's silly. If a book is free, grab it. Take a few minutes to read a bit. You'll quickly know whether you want to keep the book or not. If you don't want to keep it, just delete it. If you like it, please post a review. The author will greatly appreciate it.

Funny Sign from Carnivore Friend

This made me laugh out loud. A friend sent it in an email. It was a long tiring day so I appreciated the joke.

End your day with a laugh too.

Every year, thousands of fruits and vegetables are killed by vegetarians.

Help end the violence.

Eat bacon.

Takeaway Truth

Sometimes, you just need a good laugh over something silly.


One of the last things I did yesterday was publish a Christmas short story. It's now live on Amazon.


That's what was engraved on the gold heart David gave Noelle when he proposed. Now they have been married 10 years.

Does love last forever?

"I told you never to call me at home."

Or can nine little words destroy love?

This year as Christmas Eve approaches, Noelle faces the biggest decision of her life. Will she choose payback? Will she choose love? Or will she just walk away?

Available at Amazon Kindle.

Takeaway Truth

Thank you to all who have bought my books and posted reviews this year. May you have a wonderful Christmas.

12 Authors Celebrate Christmas Present

I'm celebrating A Christmas Carol, the novella by Charles Dickens, written and published in the early Victorian era in England. During that period, old Christmas traditions were held dear while new traditions like Christmas greeting cards and decorated trees were introduced.

Published on December 19, 1843, A Christmas Carol has never been out of print. The Christmas ghosts immortalized in the novella are iconic.

Last week, we visited with 12 popular authors about Christmas Past. They shared some of their favorite Christmas memories with us as well as some of their books. (By the way, books make great gifts or stocking stuffers!)

Today, we pay homage to Christmas Present. Again, I have as my guests a dozen popular authors. Each brought along a book to "show and tell."

If you're looking for a book for yourself or for last minute Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers, consider these books. I'm sure you'll find something you must have. In fact, some authors are doing giveaways so read the post carefully. To be eligible to win, leave your email address (written out, not as a hot link) with a comment on this post. Comments are open for this until Dec. 29. Those giving away books will select winners and notify them by email on or before Jan. 5, 2015.

Now, may I introduce my guests on this eve of Christmas Eve.

12 Authors Celebrate Christmas Present

Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the author of Circles of Fate. With intriguing twists and turns, fate brings together a cast of characters whose lives will forever be entwined.

Pam's Christmas Story

The best Christmas present I ever received was a boost in my budding faith when a coworker gifted me a check at a time when our funds to buy presents for our kids were nil. At that time she asked only that I pay it back by giving to someone else in need when I could and I do....As often as possible.

Buy Circles of Fate by Pamela S. Thibodeaux: Amazon Kindle * Paperback from Amazon * B&N Nook or Paperback

JoAnne Myers is the author of Flagitious. Four crime/mystery tales of betrayal when lies, lust, and deceit are unleashed.

Note from Joan: JoAnne told me I could edit this if I wanted, but I'm publishing it as she wrote it. Not every child grows up in a loving household. That makes the holidays even more difficult because you don't have happy memories to think about when Christmas rolls around.

What's worse, you may have unhappy memories to dwell on because Mom and Dad couldn't get through Christmas Eve without having the mother of all fights. For many the holidays are minefields of negative emotions. Personally, I spent years "learning how to be happy" during the holidays. If you have happy memories, rejoice. If you didn't, you can make your own happy memories. Why do you think my motto is: It's never to late to live happily ever after?

In any event, kudos to JoAnne for her honesty. She learned how important generosity is and made that a part of her own holiday traditions.

JoAnne's Christmas Story

I don’t remember many good memories from my childhood. I was not abused, but I was not raised in a loving family. My parents divorced when I was four, and I was raised by my mother who did not enjoy being a mom. She had married my father because of family pressures to get married and raise a family.

What stands out in my mind, is how poor we were. My mother was a factory worker, and received little child support for me and my older sister. I recall it being the first day back to school from Christmas break. I was 6 years old. I had approached my teachers desk for some reason, and she asked me what I got for Christmas. I told her “nothing” because my mother did not have any money for toys.

When my sister and I arrived at home that day, we were greeted by my teacher and my sister's teacher who gave us new dolls and other toys. I thought that was a wonderful gesture those teachers did for us. I remember my mother standing there smiling. She was pleased her children had received gifts. This incident has always stayed with me. There are good people in this world. We should all try to be like my teacher.

My gift at Christmas would be generosity to someone less fortunate than I. I work in a nursing home, so I will be giving a resident a present.

Buy Flagitious by JoAnne Myers: Amazon Kindle * Lulu Paperback

Ashley York is the author of The Saxon Bride. Medieval Romance and Intrigue.

Ashley's Christmas Story

For Christmas, I would love to give author Victoria Zak the gift of taking away her breast cancer. She was just diagnosed and started chemotherapy two days ago. She's such a lovely person with two young children. She's only 39 years old--too young to be having the battle of her life. I would love to be able to take this all away from her and give her back a cancer-free life. She could go back to worrying about the mundane things we worry about when we don't realize how quickly things can turn.

Buy The Saxon Bride by Ashley York: Amazon Kindle * B&N * Kobo

Karen McCullough is the author of Blue December. With money disappearing from registers in her department and inventory going AWOL as well, Meg Brandt is having a really bad Christmas.

Karen's Christmas Story

My birthday happens to be on Christmas day. When people hear that, I get lots of sympathy because they assume I get shorted on gifts and attention. But it’s not true. My family, from my parents, to my siblings, to my husband and kids have always held a separate celebration for my birthday, and they don’t combine gifts. That in itself is the best gift I’ve ever received. My mother died a couple of years ago. Ever since then I’ve made a special, fairly substantial donation in her name to an organization that attempts to feed the hungry worldwide. It was an organization she supported while she was alive. Continuing her support is the best gift I can think of to give back to her now.

Buy Blue December by Karen McCullough: Amazon Kindle

Libby Malin is the author of Woman with a Parasol. Mother and daughter travel to France, uncovering family secrets: What is the depth of a mother's love? Libby is giving away a copy of Woman with a Parasol. Leave a comment with your email to be eligible to win!

Libby's Christmas Story

Best Christmas gift ever received? I've received a lot of wonderful gifts, so it's hard to pick one. Here's a sweet surprise present that could have gone horribly wrong. One year, my husband bought something that clearly needed to be assembled. It came in a big box, and, frankly, I thought it was an exercise bike. Ugh. Husbands--do not buy an exercise bike for your wife for Christmas unless she signs an affidavit saying she MUST have one. Otherwise, it sends the wrong message, you know?

Prepared to be disappointed, I was delighted to open the gift and find...a new desk chair! A very thoughtful gift since I spent so much time at the computer. It sent a very touching message--I support your writing, honey. Love my hubs!

If I could give any gift to someone, my first impulse would be to shower my kids with financial help. They're fine, but you can always use a little help. And I'd randomly give money to those in need, tipping waitresses enormous amounts, handing out items to the homeless, etc. Merry Christmas!

Buy Woman with a Parasol: Amazon Kindle Exclusive

Helena Fairfax is the author of A Way from Heart to Heart. Kate Hemingway thinks upper-class Paul Farrell is stiff and reserved...until he makes a revelation that changes everything.

Helena's Christmas Story

I was one of seven children growing up. My parents didn't have a great deal of money for presents, but my mum was really good at needlework, and she often made us things. The present I remember most was a doll she made me, with a complete set of clothes, including a fake fur coat. I absolutely loved that doll!

My brothers and sisters all have families of their own now, and my mum remembers each one of her grandchildren and children at Christmas with a present. I'd love to treat my parents to a few days in a posh hotel, with all their family there for Christmas dinner. They'd love it.

Buy A Way from Heart to Heart by Helena Fairfax: Amazon Kindle U.S. * Amazon Kindle UK

Rachael Kosinski is the author of The Christmas Lights. What if someone told you Christmas lights were really for a miracle, for love, to light a boy’s way home?

Rachael's Christmas Story

Best Christmas present I've ever received? An electric keyboard I received when I was fourteen or so. I mean, I'm that person who's driven to tears when they hear some instrumentals. So I woke up one Christmas morning and found a keyboard under the tree--it can even sound like an electric guitar or piccolo if I want it to, and my mom always loves it when I come home because I'll play to relax.

I started my freshman year of college last year and I got really close to this one girl. She plays the piano with skill I'll never have and was wicked smart, but wasn't sure what she wanted to study and her mom kind of pressured her to go into medicine. Then, towards the end of last semester, her father suffered heart problems and isn't allowed to work. My gift would be for her dad to get well again. My gift would be that her dad recovers, which would be great in itself, and that she would be allowed to come back and study whatever she wants.

Buy The Christmas Lights by Rachael Kosinski: Amazon Kindle * B&N * MuseItUp

Martha O'Sullivan is the author of Last Chance, Book 3: Chances Trilogy. The single-digit temperatures and snowcapped peaks of the Lake Tahoe winter are no match for lifelong friends- turned-lovers, Moira Brody and Paul Webster, and their long-bridled desire.

Martha's Christmas Story

The best Christmas present I ever received was not for me. It was FROM me. But I enjoyed it just as much. It was when my older daughter was about three. My parents, my husband and I (with baby sister in tow) had been patiently waiting for her to wake up. We were standing at the bottom of the stairs as she walked tentatively down, clad in red and white footie Christmas pajamas. She peered around the corner, her sleepy eyes becoming saucer-like with delight when she saw the Barbie Jeep next to the tree. The utter joy I felt at watching her stays with me yet today. And the gift I would love to give? We live in Florida now and both my girls (and even me a little bit) miss snow on Christmas. I would love to have artificial snow blown on the front yard as a surprise on Christmas morning. I have a feeling the reaction would be just as magical.

Buy Last Chance by Martha O'Sullivan: Amazon Kindle * B&N * RedSagePublishing

Jina Bacarr is the author of A Soldier's Italian Christmas. American GI and a nun fall in love in war-torn Italy during the cold winter of December 1943.

Jina's Christmas Story

When I was stationed in Italy, I wanted to do something special for Christmas Eve for the combat veterans on our base suffering from PTSD. I took a busload of soldiers to Midnight Mass in an ancient church in Pisa. We had mugs of hot chocolate and cookies I baked, and, boy, was it cold!

I never forgot the spiritual joy of seeing these men rediscover their faith in that medieval church with its high ceilings and hard wooden pews. A coming home for some, a new beginning for others. Seeing them smile again was the best gift I ever received. I wish I could give that gift of faith to every soldier trying to find their way back home.

Buy A Soldier's Italian Christmas by Jina Bacarr: Amazon Kindle Unlimited

Beppie Harrison is the author of The Grandest Christmas. A historical romance about what turned out to be a happy Christmas in Ireland with a young Irish commoner and the Anglo/Irish aristocracy muddled together.

Beppie's Christmas Story

The best Christmas present I ever received—because the least expected!—was the huge London Times World Atlas that my new English husband gave me on our first Christmas after we were married. We had little money, and I never dreamed of anything so lavish, but it suddenly opened the world to me. We still have it, although numerous borders have changed in the last 45 years, and it is still a precious treasure.

What I would most like to give him would be a two-volume set showing the routes of the British steam railways at their height: he still yearns for his adolescence spent largely, as far as I can tell, on railway platforms carefully noting down the numbers of steam locomotives as they came down the track into the stations. Maybe this year, if they arrive on time?

The Grandest Christmas by Beppie Harrison: at Amazon Kindle * CreateSpace * iBooks

Lynn Crain is the author of A Viennese Christmas. The heart knows the language of love.

Lynn's Christmas Story

One year, because my husband traveled a lot, he brought me home jewels from various places. He got most of them set into gold for that Christmas, and I didn't know a thing about it. I thought my youngest was 'borrowing' them for show and tell or something. He was actually getting them for his Dad to take to the jewelers and didn't want me to know. It ended up being a great Christmas for everyone in our family. And that's what I'd love to give to my family this year...but it won't happen for a while as it's expensive...but I plan to do so in the near future. Right now, I live far away from my family. My husband and I live in Vienna, Austria, while the rest of our clan lives in Nevada. I'd love to be able to have everyone come visit me for at least one Christmas before we go home. It would be so wonderful to have us all together again, just like we were with the Christmas of the jewels.

Buy A Viennese Christmas by Lynn Crain: All Romance eBooks * Amazon Kindle U.S. * Nook

Jacqueline Patricks is the author of Fairytale Apocalypse. A Romance of Apocalyptic Proportions.

Jacqueline's Christmas Story

For Christmas one year, I received a hug of gratitude from a stranger. My husband and I had started our annual tradition of paying off Christmas lay-aways for others, and we'd chosen random accounts. One person happened to be there when we paid hers off and kept hugging and thanking me. I would love to give that same gift of gratitude to as many people as I could since gratitude is more valuable than anything material.

Buy Fairytale Apocalypse by Jacqueline Patricks: Amazon Kindle

I'm Lucky Number 13

I decided to make this a baker's dozen and announce another free book and a 99cents Romance Collection Box Set. The free book is Holiday Decorating, a companion book to the Christmas on Main Street Romance Collection.

Each of the authors in the Christmas Box Set contributed a favorite craft or holiday decorating idea to the book. You can even watch the YouTube video I created to show you what the craft book is about.

If you haven't downloaded Holiday Decorating, free to all, get it now. It's available at Amazon Kindle * iTunes * Kobo * Nook

Only 99 cents for 12 Novels
Then for only 99cents, buy Christmas on Main Street Romance Collection, a box set of 12 full-length novels, all set during the holidays. My contribution to the box set is Nobody's Cinderella. (Amazon never put the right cover up on the box set so you won't see my name on the cover image on the book's webpage, but I've been promised that my book is in the set.)

Buy Christmas on Main Street: Amazon Kindle iTunes * Kobo * Nook

I'm giving away 1 box set to a lucky reader. Leave your email with a comment on this post.

Post Script from Joan

Did you spot the authors who are giving away books? To be eligible to win, leave your email address (written out, not as a hot link) with a comment on this post. Comments are open for this until Dec. 29. Those giving away books will select winners and notify them by email on or before Jan. 5, 2015.

Takeaway Truth

In our culture, it's popular to say, "Live in the present." That's good advice--especially during the holidays when we tend to get frazzled by creating the perfect holiday experience. Forget perfect. Aim for relaxed and joyful. Laugh more. Frown less. Have a Happy Christmas Present.