Monday, November 26, 2007

A Day (Days, actually) in the Life...

I don't have to tell you: the annual post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas madness is upon us. And it's getting crazy out there. Add to that, a bunch of back to back trips I've planned for some reason smack in the middle of the holiday season, and I'm almost certifiable already.

I'm also getting ahead of myself here.

First, I do want to tell you about a special Thanksgiving day this year. My husband and I flew to New York (one of those trips I mentioned) then drove to Connecticut to spend the holiday with our younger son, his delightful new in-laws and brand-new wife. Kim cooked a truly delicious meal: tender turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, homemade whipped potatoes, fresh asparagus, green beans, and rolls plus a heavenly sweet potato souffle that melted in my mouth. I must get her recipe. Our contribution to the feast? A store bought pecan pie (I wasn't near my own kitchen) that tasted like a New Orleans praline (I'm drooling again) and an apple-cranberry pie that managed to be both tart and sweet. Believe me, no one went hungry!

Good thing we had all taken a walk before dinner. Afterward we sprawled happily in the living room to re-watch the excellent pictures from the wedding in August and the honeymoon photos of Paris. Ooh-la-la. Right now I wish I was there. Well, I always wish I was there...but today I spent hours and hours at the mall instead.

It was raining and raw outside, and I'm not like Sophie Kinsell's Shopaholic character. No, I don't hate to shop, but I don't love--or crave--it either, especially in a crowd. Because I'm leaving for San Francisco shortly, however, I needed to get a big head start on my Christmas shopping. A large portion of my family lives out of state, in quite a few states, and I'm always under the gun at this point, trying to finish the gift buying, the wrapping, and the shipping of boxes before the last-minute rush begins at the post office and UPS.

I did pretty well today. I have about half my gift buying done and hope to complete more tomorrow, including something for Chirps, my "grand kitty," and Cooper, my "grand dog."

I may not love to shop, but I do love the excitement, the anticipation, and the trappings of Christmas--especially Christmas trees. Every year I buy a new one for my little collection, and what do you know? Today Target had a gorgeous tabletop tree with fruits and nuts on it that I just had to get. All in all, a good day. Progress.

I'll be enjoying Christmas--and another beautiful tree--with my older son and his family this December, and I can't wait to see them. Another special time.

All I need to do beforehand is finish that shopping, wrapping, sending, then write some notes for the Christmas cards I haven't bought know the seasonal drill.

I'm sure we're all in the same boat. Between trips to the mall, I think I'll de-stress in front of a cozy fire with a good book, a cup of frothy hot chocolate, and a pair of warm, fuzzy slippers. Ahhh. Won't you join me?

Monday, November 19, 2007

There's Much to be Thankful For

Back when I was in college I met a woman who became a good friend. She was the Director of Students, but she was only a few years older than I was. She once told me that she was thoroughly depressed about losing a boyfriend. He was a high-profile actor and everyone recognized him. When she was with him, there was an added prestige she garnered from both her friends and his.

When the relationship broke up, the prestige went with it and it plunged her into a place that she thought was dark and so deep she couldn’t claw her way out of it. One night, in the wee hours of the morning when she was unable to sleep, she got up and took a piece of paper. She drew a line down the middle and on one side wrote Good and the other Bad. She wrote down the things in her life that were good and weighed them against those that were not. This list was much longer on the good side of the page.

I have never forgotten this technique when I’m feeling low or feeling that my life is spinning out of control and there is nothing I can do about. The good always outweighs the bad. At this writing Thanksgiving is approaching and I have much to be thankful for. Much to list on the good side of my paper and very little on the not so good side.

I sent in a manuscript this morning (wee hours mind you, but it’s done). That in and of itself is a monumentally good thing. I finished the book, developed the blank page into real live people who I liked and wanted to spend time with.

I have my family, immediate and extended, all well and healthy. I have my romance writer friends, all supportive and eager to share information. I have non-romance writer friends who I’ll see and toast the holidays with.

I have my shopping done for the big meal on Thursday and the beginnings of some Christmas shopping done. I can spend some quality time with my daughter since I don’t have a deadline to keep me chained to the computer. We can do whatever it is she wants to do (within reason). She’s five.

On the not so good side, I have to cook the meal. But then I do get the leftovers. I have to clean the house, both for Thanksgiving and before I begin another writing project. If I don’t, it won’t get done until after the next book. And by then I won’t be able to get into my office.

So you see the good is much longer than the bad. Have a good holiday. Don’t eat too much. And remember the soldiers who are keeping us safe to enjoy family, friends, and a good meal. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thanksgiving is on its way...

although here in Canada, it's already been and gone. So I thought this would be a good time for me to talk about Thanksgiving, sort of halfway between the two holidays.

And I thought I'd talk about Thanksgiving traditions - or maybe more the lack thereof. Thanksgiving isn't as big a deal in Canada as it is in the U.S. and it's not celebrated at all in England (except by ex-pats, I suspect) where my mom and her family grew up and lived until moving to Canada after the war. So Thanksgiving has always been an odd kind of holiday for me.

My dad's family celebrated Thanksgiving but without any kind of fanfare and once my mom and dad split up when I was 12, it went even more on the back burner.

But I like to celebrate it myself. I love the food, I love the concept, I love the party of it. Because every year I have something to be thankful for - many things, in fact. And so Thanksgiving is a way for me to share that thankfulness with my family and friends. I often call both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners my "orphan" dinners, inviting everyone I know who doesn't have family in town, which means that it can be any number from 4 to 14 in my tiny tiny apartment.

I do the traditional dinner - turkey, my dad's stuffing, four or five vegetables, pumpkin pie, plenty of wine and beer. I absolutely LOVE the smell of turkey cooking. My shopping expedition always includes two or three packages of those aluminum takeout containers because I always cook a turkey that's more than slightly too big for the crowd and I really really don't like leftover turkey. I do, however, love all the other leftovers and I eat them for breakfast - the pumpkin pie - lunch - sandwiches with dressing and cranberry sauce in them - and dinner - veg, plenty of mashed potatoes, stuffing.

If the crowd is bigger than 4, I have to rearrange my entire apartment. I have to move many things (furniture, TV, books, small tables) into the bathtub or onto the balcony. I have to pull out my IKEA table and chairs from the very back of the closet and under the bed. I have to move all the furniture in the living to the walls, while managing to leave a tiny space for people to get in. But it's worth every minute of it...

What are your traditions? Where did they come from? What new ones have you added?


Tuesday, November 6, 2007



Determined to prove she's no wilting magnolia blossom, jilted heiress Annie Macy strikes out for New York City to make it on her own. Annie's plan just never involved having a money launderer for a boss…or stealing "evidence" during the company Christmas party. Now with an angry Santa in hot pursuit, Annie jumps into the nearest cab, only to discover her "driver" is P.I. Joe Brady—hired by Annie's meddling family to keep an eye on her. Stuck in a rusty old taxi in the middle of one of New York's worst blizzards, Annie and Joe are dodging the bad guys and heating up the backseat at every stop. And while they are waist-deep in snow and clues and lust for each other, Annie is about to discover the woman she's hidden inside herself for too many years…

CHRISTMAS PRESENCE: THREE TALES OF LOVE by Susan Crosby and Lisa Childs and Donna Birdsell

Christmas Presence by Donna Birdsell

Young widow Astrid Martin wants to boycott Christmas?but her husband's ghost won't let her! Before long she has a tree, even a gift-wrapping job at the mall, where she meets the man who holds the key to her Christmas future.

Secret Santa by Lisa Childs

When Maggie O'Brien receives gifts from a secret Santa, she suspects one of the three men in her life has finally wised up to how special she is. Who's the mystery man—her ex, her boss, or that good-looking car mechanic? Come Christmas morning, will true love be waiting under Maggie's tree?

You're All I Want for Christmas by Susan Crosby

DivorcĂ©e Lauren Wright opts for a Bahamas Christmas getaway—only to be stranded at the airport by weather. But a very personable fellow traveler makes the time fly—and temperatures rise. Bahamas or no Bahamas, things are about to get steamy…


Hi, everybody:

Congratulations to Nathalie and Wakela Runen, who are the winners of the October Next Authors blog contest. Please contact me at with your name and address and I'll make sure your prizes start winging their way to you.

And don't forget to enter the November blog contest - everyone who posts a response to the blog is entered into the contest. The more times you post, the more times you are entered.

The Next authors are doing one more big contest in November and December - to find out about the contest and to enter go to: