Tag Archive | Happy Endings

The First Day of Christmas – Darcy Flynn

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …

A wonderful Christmas recipe and a fantastic author! Today is the start of our 12 day event. To start things, “sweet,” I’m sharing an old family recipe. These are the best sugar cookies you’ll ever eat! The secret, (yes, I’m telling!), nutmeg. Yum!

Swedish Sugar Cookies

4 Cups Flour          1 1/2 Cups Sugar         1/2 tsp. salt (optional)      1 tsp. soda      2 tsp. nutmeg

Cut in: 1 1/2 Cups shortening

Beat:

2 Eggs and combine with 1/2 Cup canned milk and 1 tsp. vanilla

Mix with dry ingredients. When I was a little girl and didn’t have the strength I do today, I used to have to get both hands in the mix and combine it by hand. Messy, but I enjoyed licking my fingers. Of course that was back in the time when eating raw cookie dough was okay. How times have changed!

Roll the dough very thin and cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 5-8 minutes. Then the real fun begins! Here’s a photo of my decorated masterpieces! ENJOY!

Swedish Sugar Cookies

Swedish Sugar Cookies

And now…something else very sweet. Or, I should say, someone sweet. My guest author today is Darcy Flynn. I’m happy to say that she’s a friend of mine, and a very accomplished author. She writes sweet romance and I know you’re going to love her!

Rogue’s Son by Darcy Flynn

Darcy Flynn   Rogue's Son   Book Cover

Tough, driven Kit Kendall has replaced her frills and dresses with no nonsense haircuts and wranglers, years ago. As owner of Sage Brush, the once thriving west Texas bed and breakfast ranch, she now struggles daily to keep her business afloat. Since McCabe Resort Lodge reopened next door as a multi-million dollar hotel, her financial difficulties compound, as she suffers one cancellation after another.

Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, Kit’s childhood sweetheart turned nemesis returns as the new owner of the resort that’s now putting her out of business, resurrecting memories she thought she’d buried long ago.

Cowboy, entrepreneur Sam Dawson has returned to Sugar Creek, Texas after six years of exile with a secret that could destroy Kit’s happiness. He left town because of it and for the past two years has secretly tried to make it right. Having failed, he now returns to make one last attempt to undo the tangled web created by his father.

Set in motion by his father’s Last Will and Testament and with the clock ticking, Sam has only weeks to convince Kit to sell him her ranch or reveal the truth that will break her heart.

Pick up a copy today at Amazon.

12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop Button with Frame

As part of The 12 Days of Christmas celebration, Darcy donated a package full of author swag, paired with a $10 Amazon card from Jennifer Faye to the prize list. Click HERE for this and many more random drawings. To follow the celebration, find a new recipe, pick up a holiday decorating or shopping tip, click HERE.

About the Author

Joy Dent writes sweet contemporary romances as Darcy Flynn. Her life is a gumbo world. Take a little New Orleans heritage, some art, music, dance and add a lot of love and time to simmer and all you have is spice, flavor, and a memory of something so fine you can’t wait for another helping. Her fiction is a few B&Bs, a bit of moon magic and a lot of problems mixed with a healthy portion of sweet romance. Add a dash of sizzle and a lot of sass and all that’s left is magic.

A native of New Orleans, Darcy swapped her city roots for garden boots when she and her husband moved to their farm in Franklin, Tennessee, where Darcy is surrounded by her beautiful gardens and a menagerie of living creatures–English setters and Millie Fleur chickens, being her favorite.

Although, published in the Christian non-fiction market under her real name, Joy Dent, it was the empty nest that turned her to writing romantic fiction. A lover of lighthouses, Darcy’s first novel, Keeper Of My Heart, is set in a small Maryland fishing village on the Chesapeake Bay. Her short story, Sealed With a Kiss: Prequel to Keeper of My Heart is available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Connect: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Google+

And the Winner is …

The envelope, please.

And, the winner is …

Oh, my goodness, how I always wished I could be in the crowd waiting for my name to be called. Seeing the women in their glamorous dresses, and the men in fine tuxes made the event even more exciting. Whether it was an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, a Grammy,  or one of the many different kinds of music awards, I wanted one of each. Too much to wish for? Why not reach for the stars?

I believe that if we stop dreaming and reaching, a part of us dies.

Most people strive for excellence. Seriously, who wants to come in second? But not many people will reach the top. So those of us sitting in our living rooms watching the cream of the crop on their special night can enjoy being allowed to witness their success. And it’s a lot of fun. That being said, I’d still like to have one of those pretty awards!

Now that I’m a writer, a new kind of award has become that thing that I’m striving for. I witnessed my first awards ceremony at the Romance Writers of America’s national convention this past summer in San Antonio, TX. All I can say is, WOW! Right before my eyes I watched as some of my favorite authors–like Nora Roberts–presented awards to authors in an assortment of categories in romance fiction. My heart pounded–excited for the winners. They accepted their award, known as the RITA, decked out in floor-length gowns and looking just as sharp as any Academy Award winner. I cheered them on, proud of their success and happy that I could be a part of it. Yes–happy! Not jealous or envious, but genuinely happy. I’ve been given a new goal. One day I want to stand on that stage and accept a RITA of my own. Maybe one day I’ll even be asked to present an award. Why not? I consider myself a good writer and every book I write gets even better. I believe in my heart that it’s something reachable.

And if I never attain that precious emblem of writing recognition, that’s okay, too. Striving to reach a goal is half of the fun. It gives me something to shoot for. More important than anything, striving to be the best makes me a better writer.

But, I’ll tell you a secret. The greatest reward I get is when I have a new reader tell me that he/she enjoyed my book. Nothing feels better, or makes my day, like pleasing a reader. No statue can do that for me. And better still, compliments don’t have to be dusted. I like that!

WRITE ON!!!

 

 

 

 

A Part of History

Our world is imperfect. No one can argue that point. We all have different opinions on many topics, and I’m incredibly thankful that we live in a country where we have the freedom to speak our minds. Many people around the world are not given that freedom.

I also have the freedom to write what I choose. This is an amazing blessing. When I started my career as an author I was compelled to write about southern history. Mainly Civil War era. To date I’ve completed seven books that take place during that time. Some are before the war, some after, and one takes place during the war.

I understand that the industry shies away from this time period and that they currently don’t wish to promote it. I also understand how difficult it is to discuss racial tensions and some of the terrible things that transpired in our country’s past. But something deep inside of me pushed me to write these stories. I feel that I handle the issues with respect, but I also do my best to be historically accurate–even though I’m writing fiction. Many of the events that my books are centered around are true. I love to blend fact with fiction. I think it’s important to keep major events true to history.

I may be frowned upon for treading on tender subject matter, but I believe it’s important that we don’t forget how things used to be. Hopefully by remembering, we can prevent those horrific things from happening again. It’s also important to remember that no matter how horrible things might be, people always find a way to love each other. My stories have happy endings, just as I hope that everyone reading them will find in their own lives.

I will always grasp onto hope and believe in the power of love. And I thank God every day for my freedom.

 

Civil War

Our Favorite Things

How many of you collect things?

I’ve often wondered what it is that prompts us to latch onto certain things.

I’ve known people who collect trading cards, figurines, Disney items, etc.  My brother will tell you about how our mother threw away his baseball cards when he was a kid. Those cards from the 60’s would probably be worth a fortune now! I guess that anything will increase in value the longer you keep it. Just wander through an antique mall and you’ll see all kinds of memories that will cost you a great deal to own again.

My collection is something I can’t bring myself to part with and will one day be passed on to my son. I assume he’ll probably turn around and sell it, but it won’t matter to me any longer. I’ll be long gone.

When I was in the first grade I was given my first Liddle Kiddle doll. Liddle Riddle Riding Hood. And believe it or not, all these years later she’s still wearing her original removable plastic shoes. And these things are tiny! The doll herself is only 3 1/2″ tall. She came with a bendable wolf. A fluffy little guy with wires inside.

Liddle Riddle Riding Hood

Liddle Riddle Riding Hood

Eventually I added more dolls to my collection. More storybook Kiddles, followed by a variety of other kinds. Jewelry Kiddles that were barely an inch tall and came inside rings and necklaces, Skediddle Kiddles that had little walkers that snapped into their backs to make them walk, Lucky Locket Kiddles that came inside framed ‘lockets,’ and others that came inside pretend soda bottles. There were Kiddles that were dressed like animals, and even holiday Kiddles. I could go on and on, but don’t want you yawning. Unless you’re a fellow Kiddle Kollector, you won’t understand my passion for these tiny, plastic dolls.

Every time I look at them, I’m reminded of wonderful times with my friends. Playing, collecting, and eventually talking them out of theirs! For a while I had my dolls displayed on a “Kiddle Land” that I made out of a piece of 6×6 plywood. I covered it in fake grass and rock pathways. It had a paper mache mountain, a beautiful castle made out of rocks that I pasted onto a cardboard box, a lake complete with plastic ducks, and multiple fake trees. It was pretty cool! But eventually, dust overcame it, and I had to disassemble it. Now I have some of my favorites displayed in a wooden frame on my wall.

Memories make us who we are, and I think there will always be that little girl inside of me who inspires the things I do as well as what I write. These dolls make me happy, and maybe someday they’ll make someone else happy, too.

I’ve often dreamed that I find more of them in some remote place. eBay has a bunch, and I’ve made my share of eBay purchases. But there’s something really thrilling about finding one where I’d least expect it. Like finding hidden treasure! But, what’s a treasure to me is probably a piece of junk to someone else. A silly little plastic doll with very little value. Well–that person doesn’t understand the value of a memory. Or I should say, the value of my memories. We’re all different. That same person might find value in a rock. And that’s okay. At one time, someone made a fortune selling ‘pet rocks!’

I’d love to hear about what you collect. And if you’re a fellow Kiddle Kollector, be sure to drop me a line! We’re a rare breed!!

Liddle Kiddles

Liddle Kiddles

The Roller Coaster of Life

I LOVE roller coasters! When I was younger I thought I wanted to be one of those people who travels from state to state looking for the longest, highest, and fastest roller coasters around. The perfect vacation would have been roller coaster hopping from one amusement park to another.

I can remember my heart thumping when we’d go on family road trips and I’d see a coaster from the road, rising up into the sky. But sadly, that wasn’t our destination and we’d press on. Lucky for me, many of the family vacations ended up at theme parks.

I’d even dream about coasters. The only thing I feared were the loop-de-loops that turned everyone upside down. But I overcame that fear when I rode the Corkscrew at Knott’s Berry Farm. That particular coaster now resides in Idaho, close to where I grew up. Pretty awesome!

So now that I’m older, I still love them, but I’m a bit more particular. I got bounced around and bruised on a wooden coaster about eight years ago, which led me to lean toward the smoother, steel rides. Maybe it’s these aging bones that can’t take the jostling anymore. But that’s okay. There are plenty of options out there for me. Even the virtual rides are enjoyable!

There’s another kind of roller coaster ride that recently has had my head spinning. LIFE. Just when I thought my life was settling into a routine, it went into a large uphill climb and then sped me down the other side so fast that I’m still reeling! Life is never dull and that’s what makes it exciting. And thank goodness I have friends and family around me sharing the ride. They’re there to hold my hand when things get rough, celebrate the thrills with me, and sometimes give me the encouragement to get back on again when the track gets a little bumpy.

I wake up every morning, have a cup of coffee, say a little prayer, and jump on the ride. And though I may plan my course of action, I can guarantee that there will be an unexpected twist or a small bump that will take me down a different path. So I go with the flow and enjoy the ride because I’ve found that the unexpected can oftentimes be the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

That being said, I’ll change my usual post ending and say…
RIDE ON!!!

Yes, there was a coaster inside that mountain!

Yes, there was a coaster inside that mountain!

Busy, Busy, Busy

Have you ever found that when your calendar is full, you accomplish more? Not just because you have a lot to do, but because you have to squeeze a bunch of stuff into a small amount of time.

I find that when I have nothing on my list of to-do’s, I fritter time away and put things off that could be done right at the moment. It’s too easy to tell myself that I have plenty of time to accomplish something because my plate is empty.

But, I don’t like an empty plate. I prefer to have it overflowing with a multitude of things to do. Things that will move me one step closer to accomplishing my long-term goals.

I had someone say to me today, “I thought you could do things spur of the moment because you aren’t working right now.” No, I don’t have a regular job, but boy am I working right now! And I’m loving it!

I’ve been blessed with a husband who is encouraging me to pursue my dream of being a full-time writer. In a very short time I’ll have my first published novel available on Amazon, and I still have high hopes of catching the eye of an agent who will fall in love with my work and help me move my career forward. I see the benefits of both self-publishing and traditional publishing and am happy that the industry allows these great options for writers.

So, though I’m not working a traditional nine-to-five job right now, I am by no means ‘not working.’ And the closer I get to publication, the busier I am. Getting a book in print is just the beginning. I’m studying up on marketing, and learning all I can about how to get the word out. This is a process, just like any job. But I have to say that I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else right now. I’m ready to take the challenge and run with it!

I would love to hear from all of you other authors out there. Tell me about your journey.

And most importantly…

WRITE ON!!

Marked

River Romance, Book 1

Cora Craighead wants more than anything to leave Plum Point, Arkansas, aboard one of the fantastic steamboats that pass by her run-down home on the Mississippi River. She’s certain there’s more to life out there…somewhere. Besides, anything has to better than living with her pa who spends his days and nights drinking and gambling.

Douglas Denton grew up on one of the wealthiest estates in Memphis, Tennessee. Life filled with parties, expensive clothing, and proper English never suited him. He longs for simplicity and a woman with a pure heart—not one who craves his money. Cora is that and more, but she belongs to someone else.

Cora finally gets her wish, only to be taken down a road of strife, uncertainty, and mysterious prophecies. When she’s finally discovered again by Douglas, she’s a widow, fearing for her life and that of her newborn child and blind companion.

Full of emotions, family secrets, and the search for true love, you’ll find it’s not just the cards that are marked. 

"Marked" by Jeanne Hardt

What to Write

So you’re looking at a blank page, and you ask yourself, “what do I put on it?”

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my first book was inspired by a dream. It felt like something I had to write. To transfer all of my thoughts (and dreams) onto paper. And as I’ve moved forward, I find that I continue to enjoy writing historical romance, but I’ve also branched out into a few other categories. One book is medieval fantasy, and the newest one is contemporary with a paranormal twist. That one was really fun to write.

Granted, I enjoy writing, period. But what should I be writing?

At a recent retreat, our guest speaker gave a workshop on finding what inspires us and discovering what we’re suited to write. She had us compile a list of things we truly love, (detailed), and then also had us make lists of favorite movies, and books that we read when we were young. Once the list was compiled she was able to pinpoint our interests. Some of the writers in our group were very family oriented, and the things they loved centered around them. Those kind of writers are excellent candidates for writing small town stories that have strong family ties. Makes sense.

On the other hand, writers who liked quirky science fiction, or perhaps spent their youth pinning dead bugs to boards and framing them, or taking apart appliances and figuring out how they work, might be inclined to write sci-fi or steampunk.

For me, family is important, but when it came to my movie and book list I was definitely into fantasy and time travel. The importance of family and the time travel element is probably why I like writing historical.  When I started writing my medieval fantasy I thought I was going far away from my ‘norm.’  But since I’m a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, and some of my other favorite reading when I was in high school was Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Legend books, then it made sense to me. I fell in love with Merlin through her writing. Honestly, that was probably the first ‘romance’ I ever read. Not typical romance by any means, but it had a lasting effect.

So, my suggestion to you if you’re having a hard time figuring out what to write, is– Make a list.

But most importantly, write. Write what moves you, but if you truly love the things you’re writing about, you’ll write a much better book.

WRITE ON!!

 

DRWGF120110821P1020510w-M

I Just Have to Write!

For those who hate writing in any form, it’s hard to explain why I “have to” write. Sometimes I don’t understand it myself. It’s like an itch that must be scratched.

While brainstorming with a fellow writer last week, I asked her what I should do. Start a sequel to a book that I completed or write the story that has been haunting me and won’t leave my head?

She strongly suggested the head-haunting story. Since the sequel I’m considering is bare bones, and the other story has meat on it, what she told me made sense. She said that she learned a long time ago to jump on a story while it’s present in your mind and you’re passionate about it. Otherwise, it might trickle away and you’ll forget what it was that fired you up.

So, my sequel will wait and I intend to start the new manuscript today. It will be something very different from my other books. This one will be a contemporary love story written solely from my heroine’s point of view. And it will have a very unexpected twist. That’s all I’m saying. 🙂

For me, sitting down to write is like opening a gift at Christmas. I don’t know what’s inside, but I’m confident it will be something I like. And even though the wrapping paper is pretty, I don’t hesitate tearing into it. It’s not a drudgery. It’s an exciting gift!

I hope I never lose this passion. And I also hope that I can inspire other writers to follow their dreams and put their thoughts and feelings on paper–or laptop these days.

So, here I go…

WRITE ON!!

Never know what's inside the package...

Never know what’s inside the package…

 

My Writing Process — the Blog Tour

Being a member of Romance Writers of America, as well as my local chapter, Music City Romance Writers, brings unique opportunities my way. And today I am acting upon one of those opportunities!

Fellow member, Jody Wallace, is part of an ongoing blog tour that highlights each writer’s writing process. Please check out her blog at: http://meankittybox.blogspot.com. You will find her writing process blog on the March 10th posting. Jody is an author of paranormal, science fiction/fantasy, and contemporary romance, as well as a few other goodies as the mood strikes her. She is especially fond of cats and when she engaged me to participate in this tour and helped me tweak my blog page, she hinted that I may now see cats pop up in my posts unexpectedly. Hmm… Good thing I like cats!

So now it’s my turn to answer four simple questions about my writing process. I know that I have a number of other authors who follow my blog, so if you’d like to hop on board, send me a message.

Question 1: What am I working on?

I decided several months ago to take an enormous step into the world of self-publishing, and will be releasing “Marked” in late April. So, I am working on some deep revisions, and have already hired a cover artist and editor so that my book is the best it can be. Terrifying? Yes. Exciting? Most definitely! Please check out my “books” tab after you read this post and you can read my prologue.  🙂

Question 2: How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I initially thought I was writing ‘romance,’ and though my book is a love story it goes beyond the typical romantic elements needed to make it fall specifically into the romance genre. It has a happy ending, but the angst the characters go through makes it fall into the line of ‘women’s fiction.’ Also, I don’t know of anyone else right now who is writing a book that takes place on an 1850’s Mississippi River steamboat.

Question 3: Why do I write what I do?

I love history, research, and happy endings. I also love stories that have depth and plenty of emotion. I want my readers to feel something that will touch their hearts. And most of all, I love to step back in time and imagine what things could have been like. Books should take us on a journey, so that’s what I always try to accomplish with my writing.

Question 4: How does my writing process work?

Strange as it may seem…most of my ideas have come from dreams. Somehow ideas just pop into my head and I run with them. I always jot down my basic plot and know how the story will start and end, but the middle is always a mystery. My characters take on lives of their own and often lead me down new unexpected paths. That’s the fun part!

Next Monday, March 24th, another fellow writer will be posting her blog, so please check out her page.

Deanndra Hall is a working author living in far western Kentucky with her lovable partner of 32+ years and three weird little dogs. When she’s not writing, she’s probably in the gym, kayaking at a local national recreation area, or lunching with friends. She writes erotic romance and erotica, which embarrasses her two grown kids to no end, and has two ongoing series and two independent novels to her credit, with another series in the works. You can see what she’s up to on her blog at http://www.deanndrahall.blogspot.com.

WRITE ON!!

A cat...for Jody. :)

A cat…for Jody. 🙂

Good Health

I never thought I’d blog about ‘health’ but I want to put in my two cents on the subject.

First, I want to say right up front, that I’ve never really cared for exercise, and I have an incredible infatuation with sugar and bread. When I was younger I was blessed with a fantastic metabolism that allowed me to eat whatever I wanted and remain looking like a long stick. But when I reached my later years, all of that changed.

I’d been forewarned by many of my mother’s friends who would say, “Just wait ’til you’re older,” and I would laugh to myself thinking…’not me.’ Ah…how wrong I was! Now who’s laughing?

These days I have to think twice before indulging in my favorite chocolates or pastries. (Cream filled are the best!) But, I don’t deprive myself completely. As the saying goes, “everything in moderation.”

I have embraced my newly-found curves, but find that if I let my cravings get out of hand, I grow to an uncomfortable level. When I reach that point, I feel sluggish, and unproductive. Basically…unhealthy. I have little motivation, and want to sleep more than my usual 8 hours.

So now, I make a point to get on my elliptical for 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. I’m also lifting weights. I learned a routine from someone on TV, and since I don’t want to get up at 5:30 to exercise with her, I do it myself.

After I do my routine, I’m invigorated! It helps my writing, too. In fact, I’ve been keeping tabs on my writing time and word count. On the average I write 1,000 words/ hour. I spend my time on the elliptical plotting the next scene of my book. It makes the twenty minutes fly by!

This winter has been a bad one for illness, and as I posted before, I was sick for almost 5 weeks. I no longer desire to be as thin as a stick, but I want to be healthy. I want to live to a ripe old age so that I can see my grandchildren and even great-grandchildren grow up. I try my best to make healthy choices in selecting food, but still allow myself treats. And since my job requires me to sit and type, I make certain I get up and move, too!

So, here’s to health! If you have any helpful health secrets, please share them.

WRITE ON!!!

(And yes…that’s me in the red pantsuit. I loved it back then. Oh how times and fashion change!)

Those were the days...

Those were the days…