Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Write Stuff Wednesday

Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera is packed with all the Write Stuff!

This book, a gift from a fantabulous friend to my whole family, became an instant classic. Not only is the artwork delightful, the message is superb! I even use it as part of the decorating scheme.

Disclaimer: It is NOT odd for an author and voracious reader to use books in the process of decorating.

Now the holidays may be over but that only means it's time to shop for bargains and tuck them away for next year ...except this book you'll want to read, share and keep close no matter what the season!

Happy Holidays!

Oh - and my New Year's Eve short Snow Covered Resolutions - another Hobbitville adventure - is now available from Echelon Press Shorts!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Days After

I know people who take their Christmas tree down the day after and have everything restored to pre-holiday order tout-suite!

More power to them! After all the rush and wrapping and ripping and unwrapping I enjoy a serene view of the tree and decorations for just a few more days.

Somewhere along the way I remember hearing it was bad luck to have last year's tree still up when the new year came along...but I don't have any cultural or community basis for that. It's just a thought that wanders through my head as the year comes to a close.

In the interest of our annual New Year's Eve party, we always took the tree down by December 30, but we never eliminated all evidence of merriment with ruthless efficiency or dedication. It was more of a leisurely thing. A bittersweet sort of day as we packed things up for the next season and laughed over memories of gift-giving.

So are you the type to get on with life after holidays? Or does it depend on the year?

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Write Stuff Wednesday - The Night Before Christmas

It's the day before the night before Christmas! And the famous poem by Clement C. Moore certainly has the Write Stuff!

Whatever holidays you celebrate, I hope they're focused on love and that you're sharing the time with people who matter to you.

I'm thrilled to have my family at home despite the noise and distractions, the bickering and baking, the mess and the wonder. Together we manage to make a joyful noise overall, and though we're an eclectic group I'm glad they're all in my life. I'm richer because of them and hopefully they'd say the same (without bribery).

One of our many family traditions is reading The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. When the kids were little, they'd crawl into my husband's lap and he'd read from the same book my father read to me. Though they're older (and they'd flatten his lap now) we still read the story as a family with cider or cocoa. It never gets old, it's fun to paraphrase, and hey, it's tradition!

Do you have a tradition passed down from your elders, or one you hope to pass on to your kids?

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Alphabet By A Greyhound Puppy

Nothing's sillier - on any day of the week - than a puppy. For the first time in, oh, nearly forever, we are fostering greyhound puppy. I'd forgotten some of the particular joys and trials of puppies, but overall we're having a great time!

He just turned one. He's adorable. He's busy. He's cute....and well here's the rest of the alphabet according to our youngest pup:

Fun, fun, fun
Housebroken (quite important)
Nearly grown (let's hope)
Pure puppy
Roo, roo roo
Tug of war

That's one summation, but trust me, it's only the tip of the iceberg with this greyt pup!

Happy Holidays,

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Short from Hobbitville!

It's here! Snow Covered Resolutions! The cover, the story, all for you holiday reading pleasure!

Don't miss this latest installment from Hobbitville - and don't leave your Echelon Press Shorts Twelve Days of Great Reads collection incomplete!

You've heard about it - Austin, the one Pixie Chick everyone goes to for insider info on the cutest guys in school, is the only Pixie dateless on New Year's!

Get your copy of Snow Covered Resolutions today!

Happy Holiday Reading!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Write Stuff Wednesday

Dr. Seuss also said, "So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads."

What a tip for all aspiring writers out there! No matter your experience level, this is a great reminder. Putting in more words, just for the sake of word count, isn't helpful for your reader. So be prepared in the editing process to take all those extraneous, distracting words out of the manuscript so the reader can enjoy the story.

Sounds odd, but like too many cooks spoil the soup (or destroy the kitchen), too many words ruin the story!

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Lights to Cheer For!

Early in December I was guest blogging at Teen-Seen about my love of Christmas lights.

Well here's another display that totally ROCKS! This guy hooked up his Guitar Hero to his lighting display (or maybe I said that backwards) and you can actually play to Eric Johnson's Cliffs of Dover for the honor of High Score!

Check it out!

Happy Holidays!
author of the ongoing Hobbitville Saga

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 12 - a day late! of Twelve Days of Great Reads

Day 12 is Snow Covered Resolutions by Regan Black - hey that's me! It's another Hobbitville adventure starring: Austin, the girl who knows everything about every guy in the neighborhood. Having the insider information has left her cold and lonely and the only one without a date for the New Year's party.

Due to technical difficulties I don't have a cover to share - yet! But you can catch my full post about New Year's Eve over at Echelon Press Shorts. Or you can stay tuned here, and get some insider information!

As I said at the Echelon Shorts blog, New Year's Eve was always hosted at our house - a tradition dating back - well, not centuries but as long as I can remember. One year, all the guests had arrived and were in full party mode when our doorbell rang again. My dad answered and a man and his wife were on the porch, asking him to step outside for a moment.

Stranger Danger?!?

Well, Dad was cautious, but also a member of the big, tall, and intimidating club. So out he went into the snowy night to stare at our roof with this couple. Apparently, they'd been driving by and thought they'd seen sparks or fire on our roof.

The sparks flew while Dad was out there with them. He thanked them, went inside, and just to be safe, he called the fire department to come check it out. Firetrucks braved icy streets and arrived minutes later, sirens blaring, firemen rushing to task, hoses and axes ready, and tried to evacuate our party so they could work.

That would've been easy, if the Nebraska Cornhuskers hadn't been playing the bowl game that night. We had some die-hard fans who refused to leave the TV - fire or not - before the commercial break.

I'll never forget that night or cease to be grateful for the Good Samaritan couple who stopped to tell us about a spark! The neighbors graciously let our crowd of guests join theirs and we all managed to have a good time while the firemen saved our house.

The Chief told Dad our chimney had caught fire and if that couple hadn't interrupted our party, or if Dad had waited even another few minutes to call, we would've lost the whole roof and most of the house. As it was, there was a room sized skylight over the master bedroom for several weeks into the new year.

So here's to keeping the holidays bright and remembering what's important: love, friendship, peace, and kindness to all.

Finish 2009 strong, with a visit to Echelon Shorts to buy your 12 Days of Great Reads!

Happy Holiday Reading!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

For the Love of Softball!

Welcome to today's guest blogger, Mary Cunningham, the award winning author of the fabulous Cynthia's Attic book series.

You might not believe this, but, I feel a little sorry for kids today with their computers games, I-Pods, X-boxes, Wii and 300+ TV stations to choose. Sure, all this technology makes life easier and, possibly, more entertaining. But, sitting in my office, updating Facebook and Twitter and contemplating every simultaneous sporting event (President's Cup, Steelers football, NASCAR, etc.) I was able to watch one recent weekend thanks to my DVR, I can't help thinking back to "the good ol' days." Do I hear groans? Let me explain.

Friend, Barbara, a neighborhood playmate from elementary school days, recently asked about the softball games we arranged every single summer day. She couldn't remember whether Alan (a couple years younger) was the only boy who ever played with us. I thought, surely there were others. But, no...he was the only one who dared join 9 neighborhood girls! As I remember, stray balls would occasionally roll into his uncle's yard and Alan was the only one allowed to retrieve them. So, maybe that's why we allowed him to play.

Remembering those summers spent enjoying softball, hide 'n seek, croquet, jump rope – anything that required sunshine and lots of energy – brings back such wonderful memories of my childhood, and also inspired my four-book 'tween series, "Cynthia's Attic." Computer? X-Box? We didn't need them. We made our own fun, memories and life-long friendships. So, yeah, I feel sorry for kids today. Most will never know the joy of creating their own games and fun. Not when all they have to do is click a mouse or grab a Wii remote.

Thanks for having me, Regan! And, thank the Pixie Chicks for allowing Cynthia and Gus to invade their space.

The Pixie Chicks are happy to have you visit anytime, Mary!
Check out this great book trailer:

Mary Cunningham is the author of the award-winning 'Tween fantasy/mystery series, Cynthia’s Attic. She is proud to announce book four, "The Magician's Castle," is due for release in December, 2009. Her children's mystery series was inspired by a recurring dream about a mysterious attic. After realizing that the dream took place in the home of her childhood friend, Cynthia, the dreams stopped and the writing began.
She is also co-writer of the humor-filled, women's lifestyle book, "Women Only Over Fifty (WOOF)," along with published stories, "Ghost Light" and "Christmas Daisy," a Cynthia's Attic short story.

Mary Cunningham Books

Cynthia's Attic Blog




Quake/Echelon Press

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 11 of Twelve Days of Great Reads

For day 11, Echelon Press Shorts 12 Days of Great Reads presents Bells by Vonnie Winslow Crist!

In this haunting holiday tale...Melinda finds herself at a family reunion on a snowy Christmas evening. Her Great-Aunt Vivian's home on the corner of Park and Millstone Streets is bursting with greenery, holiday foods, jingling bells, and relatives–both living and dead. The ghosts of Christmases past haunt this house and make their presence known to Melinda. But it is Uncle Clay whose story about a long-ago sleigh ride with his deceased wife, Junie, that makes the biggest impression–that is, until he disappears. And just what will Melinda discover when she searches on a bleak midwinter's night for her missing great-uncle beneath the icy moon and glittering stars?

About herself and the holiday season, Vonnie says, "The Winslow-Crist traditions include sauerkraut with the turkey and dressing, sleigh bells on doorknobs, a house decorated with greens, baking sugar cookies, and carols playing throughout Christmas Day."

Buy Bells now at Echelon Press!

And just to prolong the 12 Days of Great Reads excitement, tomorrow will highlight a 12 days author Mary Cunningham as she's touring the Internet and sharing all the fun and magic of her newest release: Cynthia's Attic, The Magician's Castle!

You'll find Day 12 of Twelve days of Great Reads a day late, but worth the wait, right here on December 13!

Happy Holiday Reading!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 10 of Twelve Days of Great Reads

Day Ten? Already? And today's offering from Echelon Press Shorts is just as great as day one!

Here's a peek at what Jeff Martin, author of Dead Holiday, has to say about Christmas:

"Now, don’t get me wrong… I enjoyed receiving the pretty outstanding the Star Wars Millienum Falcon, complete with the suave, vest-wearing Han Solo action figure. (So much better than Luke…but we will keep that our little secret.) But after all that “stuff” mentality wore thin, I realized the deeper meaning of this special time of year had nothing to do with materialistic things but more with being an ambassador of thoughtfulness and compassion."

Read more about what Christmas means to this author at Echelon Press Shorts today. You'll be glad you did. especially if you click here to buy his book as well!

Happy Holiday Reading,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 9 of Twelve Days of Great Reads

The wonders of technology and talent combine in day nine to bring Twelve Days of Great Reads readers Yvonne Walus, author from New Zealand!

The Hanukkah Time Capsule
- puts the holidays into a new light- with a twist. For all you sci-fi fans out there clamoring for a holiday story, this one's for you!

Check out Yvonne's post about holiday traditions and the inspiration for her story at the Echelon Press Shorts blog and keep up with her at her blogspot blog too!

Happy Holiday Reading!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Day 8 of Twelve Days of Great Reads

Today Echelon Press Shorts features Lance Zarimba, author of Secret Santa! It seems this holiday tale cropped up when a work situation left him with plenty of time to think. You'll want to pop over to the blog for the whole thing, but here's a highlight:

"As minute by minute dragged by, the steps dug deeper and deeper into my back. Rhonda started to read “The Night Before Christmas” and the ideas started to flow....So I used “The Night Before Christmas” and wove the lines of the story to match several Secret Santa gifts to tell a dark tale, darker than what I usually write."

If you're a writer or an artist, where do your ideas come from? Check out today's post at Echelon Press Shorts and get a peek inside the mind of this entertaining mystery writer.

Happy Holiday Reading!

Day 7 of Twelve Days of Great Reads

We've passed the halfway mark of this incredible reading adventure! This amazing collection of authors and holiday stories is a real treat...if you're not on board, you should be...and no worries, we're not planning on jumping off a bridge en masse. We're too happy with the great reads from Echelon Press Shorts!

Today's feature is An Angel's Wish by none other than Karen Syed, founder of Echelon Press Publishing and a talented author in her own right.

From Karen: An Angel’s Wish was written many years ago before I became a publisher. It is one of my favorite stories because it talks about hope. We all want to be loved, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem possible. When I wrote this story I was not in a good place, but I had hope.

Click here for the rest of Karen's post and buy your copy of An Angel's Wish today!

Happy Holiday Reading!

Day 6 of Twelve Days of Great Reads

Christmas or New Year's? Got a favorite? Got a reason?

Michelle D. Sonnier says:
The Scottish culture in particular holds New Year’s traditions in high esteem. For about four or five hundred years, the Protestant movement prevented the celebration of Christmas in Scotland (it was seen as too “Popish” or Catholic), so the Scottish people focused on the turning of the year, called Hogmanay in their culture.

Got a great read to go with your favorite holiday? You will as soon as you download any one - or all - of the authors bringing you Twelve Days of Great Reads from Echelon Press Shorts!

Happy Holiday Reading,

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 5 of Twelve Days of Great Reads

I can hear the song in the background: "On the fifth day of Great Reads, my story gave to me: a de-light-ful my-ster-y!"

Christine Verstraete, author of 2009 Eppie-nominated children's books offers up Christmas at the North Pole Compound. According to Verstraete, "It's not all Fa-la-la and Ho-Ho-Ho at the North Pole Compound when Santa's elves find that this year's Christmas deliveries could be held up. Someone's been tampering with the gifts, and even worse, it looks like an inside job!"

Visit Echelon Press to buy your copy and find out if Chief Elf Investigator Finius Flaherty can crack the case and save Christmas?

Happy Holiday Reading!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 4 of Twelve Days of Great Reads

Visit Echelon Press Shorts today for another bright new holiday short story.

Lois Carroll has a duet of stories to warm your heart and get you into the spirit of the season. From the back cover:

Some gifts are planned and worked on for months before they are given. Some are a last minute inspiration when the funds can be scraped together. But what of a gift given when it is not expected? And what could be more special than a gift given with love?

Visit Echelon Press Shorts for more fro
m Lois and be sure to order today's great read from Echelon Press to keep your 12 days collection up to date!

Happy Holiday Reading,

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 3 of Twelve Days of Great Reads

Here is a real treat for young readers, and readers who are young at heart - a fresh new short story from Mary Cunningham. She's the guest at Echelon Press Shorts today and here's a glimpse of what motivates this talented author:

"Although inspiring young readers is my ultimate goal, it’s also my wish to encourage young readers and writers to explore their own family history. One of the main reasons that compelled me to write the “Cynthia’s Attic Series” is my regret at not listening to stories my grandparents told about their lives and childhood experiences. If I can encourage just one child to spend time with a relative such as a grandparent, great aunt, or their mother and dad – and write about them, I will have accomplished my goal."

A wonderful thought for every season, but so very precious during the holidays. Enjoy some time with your loved ones and start a talk about about Christmas with Daisy - a great story suitable for every generation!

Happy Holiday Reading!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 2 of 12 Days of Great Reads

As Echelon Press Shorts continues with Twelve Days of Great Reads, today features Austin Camacho and a new mystery: Mystery on Capitol Street

Austin's blogging today at Echelon Press Shorts about the Big Question: Is there a Santa Claus? Go on over to check out his post, leave your comment, and see all the great things Echelon Shorts authors have in store for you.

The Twelve Days of Great Reads is a wonderful time to take a new-to-you author for a test drive. Echelon Press Shorts delivers short stories at just-prices and gives you a chance to win free stuff too!

Happy Holiday Reading!


I'm so thrilled to make this announcement and be part of this collaborative effort with some amazing authors!

Are you ready for great holiday ebooks? Join Echelon Shorts between December 1-December 12 as they celebrate 12 Days of Great Reads!

Today's featured author is Carl Brookins author of A Winter's Tale.

During this celebration, Echelon Shorts will be bringing you the best new holiday releases and posts each day from the authors. Find mystery and romance, mainstream and fantasy, thrillers and young adult stories. The release schedule includes short stories from Carl Brookins, Austin Camacho, Mary Cunningham, Lois Carroll, Christine Verstraete, Michelle D. Sonnier, Lance Zarimba, Karen Syed, Yvonne Walus, Jeffrey Martin, Vonnie Winslow Crist, and Regan Black.

Stop by to find these posts and stories and for your chance to win free ebooks!

Happy Holiday Reading!