Trivia Day & Giveaway!

Come on over to Lady Scribes today and test your knowledge of our novels!! Any answer will get you an entry in the Amazon Gift Card Giveaway, but the right answer(s) will get you even more entries!! There will be 4 rounds, so keep checking back throughout the day to keep playing! 🙂

Participating Authors:

Catherine Gayle

Erin Knightley

Deb Marlowe

Hanna Martine

Andris Bear

Marquita Valentine

Jerrica Knight-Catania

Samantha Grace

Ava Stone

Jane Charles

Suzie Grant

Christi Caldwell

Olivia Kelley

Julie Johnstone

Twelve Days of Christmas: Lilia Birney

For the Price of a Cup of Coffee
by Lilia Birney

Every year at Christmas time, I hear the same thing from non-profits and charitable organizations.  “For the price of a cup of coffee, you can make a difference.”  But I never really believed it.  I never wanted to give so little.  I figured that if I were going to increase my giving to charity, I needed to give in a BIG way.  I thought that if I really were going to give a small donation, it would be somehow insulting to the recipient.

But this year is the first year that my daughter is really old enough to be aware of Christmas and it’s our first year of really struggling against the materialism that comes hand in hand with the season.  I wanted to set an example for her, one that she might be able to really get and to follow.  So, we decided to have “pizza parties for charity” every Friday night for the month of December.

It works like this: usually every Friday night, as a rule, we order two large pizzas and usually a few extras from our local pizza delivery.  Then, we rent (or even purchase) a movie on Amazon to watch.  The total usually tops out around $40 for the night.  So, instead of ordering pizza from takeout, we choose a take and bake pizza from the grocery store (for around $5) and watch one of the movies we already have.  Then, we would donate the remaining $35 to charity.

To choose the charity, each of us wrote the name of a charity on an index card.  We folded them up and put them in a bowl.  My daughter draws the name of that charity out on Friday morning, and all day we talk about how we are “eating for” that charity.  Our first party was last Friday, and my daughter chose a tiger sanctuary.  She is obsessed with tigers. So, all day we talked about how we were “eating for tigers.”

Then, that night, we looked at the tiger sanctuary’s website and “adopted” a Bengal tiger with our donation.  In a few weeks, we’ll get an adoption certificate in the mail.  It’s the most tangible way I can think of to show my daughter how to give more—to get something a little less big to give to others.  And in a few weeks, she’ll get a certificate in the mail and a bunch of cool stuff all about tigers—more tangible proof of how her donation helped.

We tried it the first night and it’s amazing how excited we all were and how much fun we had.   And we can’t wait until this Friday to do it all over again for a different charity.  It may not make a huge difference to the charity of choice, but it has made a huge difference to our family.  It’s like we’re seeing Christmas through new lenses!

Leave a comment for Lilia and be entered to win a $25 gift card to the book seller of your choice!

Summons DukeLady Penelope’s Christmas Charade:
When Lady Penelope Annand’s trusted servant goes missing just before Christmas, she is determined to get to the bottom of the matter.  Even if that means hiring a thief-taker to track down her maid’s whereabouts.  But when the darkly smoldering Pierce Howe takes charge of the situation, Penelope finds herself growing more attracted to him by the second–even if she’s infuriated by his high-handed manner.  Penelope gave up on Christmas wishes years ago when her first husband broke her heart, but could Pierce give her a second chance at love?Pierce Howe has made a name for himself as one of London’s most reliable thief-takers, leaving behind his family’s sordid past to create a life of his own.  But when Viscountess Annand, known in society as The Ice Goddess, demands that he track down her wayward maid, he receives a Christmas gift he never expected–Penelope’s trust.  His carefully-constructed defenses begin crumbling as they embark on a Christmas charade to find Penelope’s maid.  As the Ice Goddess shows that she does indeed have a melting point, the thief-taker must decide if he can risk it all and tell her the truth about his past.
Available NOW at these major retailers…
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

 Lilia Birney on Twitter: @liliabirne

Twelve Days of Christmas: Samantha Grace

Banana Pancakes

by Samantha Grace

One of the things I love about being a parent is being in charge of creating happy memories for our kids. I think observing tradition gives everyone a stronger sense of who we are and where we belong. We carry it with us all our lives. The traditions my husband and I observe with our kids are a mix of things from our childhood and new things we wanted to try.

Two of the kids’ favorite traditions are opening one gift on Christmas Eve and banana pancakes on Christmas morning. They love banana pancakes so much they request them year round, but Christmas morning they are a must. (One of my favorite traditions is getting the kids a new ornament every year, and when they have their own homes, they can have the ornaments for their trees.)

The first year I made banana pancakes, I used the recipe out of Sheila Lukins’s All Around the World Cookbook. Now I’ve modified the recipe using a mix to get the pancakes on the table quicker, but her recipe really is superior.

Banana Pancakes

2 cups Krusteaz pancake mix

1 1/3 cups water

¼ cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2-3 mashed ripe bananas

Combine the pancake mix and water with a whisk. Add brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Fold in mashed bananas. Grease the griddle with a little vegetable oil.  Pour about ¼ cup of batter on the hot griddle, cook until the edges start to look golden, and flip.

I serve Little Smokies with the pancakes Christmas morning. I figure once a year isn’t bad.

 Twice Upon a Time:Summons Duke

Since her father’s untimely death, Felicity Halliday has relied on the medical knowledge learned at his side to treat London’s most disreputable in order to support her family.  Life has been hard, but everything changes the night she is snatched from an alley behind a theatre and tossed into a nobleman’s carriage. 

It has been less than a fortnight since Julian Beckford returned to London after a sojourn in India, and he’s already up to his top-boots in one of his cousin’s mad schemes. When his foolish cousin decides to engage an actress to play his wife over the holidays at Danby Castle, Julian becomes an unwilling party to the lady’s abduction. Along their journey to Yorkshire, Julian makes a stunning discovery about his cousin’s pretend wife and finds it’s possible to love Twice Upon a Time.

Available NOW at these major retailers…
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

ABMChristmasA Beau Monde Bachelor Christmas:

Join newlywed couples Lord and Lady Norwick, Jake and Amelia Hillary, Daniel and Lisette Hillary, and Isaac and Serafine Tucker for their first Christmas together.

Bibi, the Countess of Norwick, would love to give her husband the one thing he really wants for Christmas: a ceasefire between her and his intractable sister. Facing Lady Troll during the holidays without reinforcements, however, would be foolish, and Bibi is no fool. She calls upon her dearest friends, Amelia and Jake Hillary, and a few more familiar faces to spend Christmas in Kent to help make the season a little brighter. Unfortunately, her guests are distracted by their own challenges this holiday season, and Bibi must find a way to connect with her sister-in-law without their help if she hopes to make Jasper’s Christmas wishes come true.

 

To access A Beau Monde Bachelor Christmas, sign up for Samantha’s newsletter group. http://www.samanthagraceauthor.com.

I love to hear from readers, so if you would like to connect with me, you can find me at the following places:

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Lady Scribes

Leave a comment for Samantha and be entered to win a

$25 gift card to the book seller of your choice!

12 Days of Christmas: Christmas in Paradise

IMG_7631If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever want to live in Florida, I would have looked at you like you had three heads. Florida?? Land of alligators and dangling chads?? Are you crazy?!?!

But many of you know that one fateful trip to the Bahamas changed everything. Yes, I know Florida isn’t the Bahamas, but it’s pretty darn close, both in proximity and in “feel.” So, blah, blah, blah, we decided to move here and our original 18-month timeline became 6 months, and well, here we are.

The main thing I was concerned about was how I would feel about wearing flip-flops and going swimming at Christmastime. I love Christmas. This is no secret. And, as most people do, I have always associated this time of year with frigid temps, snow, fireplaces and bundling up, yet still freezing my a** off.

Well, let me tell you…I will NEVER look back. Ever.  (Cue Taylor Swift song, “Weeeeee are never, ever, eveeeeer…getting back together!) You don’t need to be freezing to feel the magic of Christmas. As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that I’m way more in the Christmas spirit than I’ve ever been! And those things I love still exist, even here.

For instance, Florida *does* get a little chilly, so I still get to put on a light sweater. And last night, in my light sweater, I ate Grimaldi’s New York pizza al fresco near a blazing heat lamp while watching the Christmas light show! It was MAGICAL!

And this morning, to and from dropping my daughter off at school, I rolled the windows down and blared Christmas music out the windows. Seriously, you haven’t known joy until you’ve had a warm breeze on your face while listening to Bing sing White Christmas.IMG_7678

Oh, and don’t forget snow! Almost every holiday celebration here involves fake snow. But it’s warm! And you don’t have to be bundled up in a gajillion layers of clothing or risk your children getting frostbite!

This last weekend alone was EPIC in terms of Christmas celebrations…breakfast with Santa, holiday boat parade, festival of trees, the children’s holiday festival with petting zoo, tree lightings, etc… We didn’t even make it to all of them though… we had to sleep and eat sometime!!

But no matter where you live, I hope you find the joy and love of the holiday season in your hearts! And to help you get in the mood, we’re kicking off our 12 Days of Christmas giveaway today! Every day, for the next 12 days, I’ll be featuring an author from the Regency Christmas Summons Series here on my blog. Stop by and learn about their favorite holiday traditions, read about their story in the collection, and leave a comment to WIN!

Win what? you may ask! I’ll be giving away a $25 gift card to the book seller of your choice. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win!* Winner will be announced December 21, 2012.

So now it’s your turn! Do you love the winter? Do you embrace the cold? Or would you be just as happy to spend Christmas in a tropical paradise? IMG_8069

*One comment per blog entry = a potential twelve entries.

A SUMMONS FROM THE DUKE…

Summons Duke

In Loving Mister Lockwell (Regency Christmas Summons, Vol. 2), Lady Isabel Whitton has no use for people other than her twin sister — she much prefers the company of her books. So when she discovers that all her cousins from near and far have been summoned to her home, Danby Castle, for Christmas, she isn’t pleased. To make matters even worse, the deplorable Mister Lockwell has come uninvited.

Damien Lockwell, 3rd son of the Earl of Totterdown, has invited himself to Yorkshire for Christmas. Spending the holiday with the Whittons seems far preferable to watching his father drink himself into a stupor. And Lady Isabel proves to be just the kind of entertainment he was looking for — she’s smart as a whip and quite the most unique creature he’s ever met — not to mention she despises him, which is the most thrilling part of all for a man like Damien.

Available NOW at these major retailers…
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

Samantha Grace: Interview & Giveaway!

I am so privileged to have the incomparable Samantha Grace as  a critique partner, but even more importantly, as my friend. I know she’s swamped with blog tours and such with her new release coming up, so I asked if I could run the super fun interview we did from a couple of years ago. She said yes! So, without further ado, here’s the interview…

1)   What is the most interesting trip you have ever taken?

I traveled to Zambia in 1991 to visit my mother who was living there at the time. I stayed for nine weeks. I learned a lot from that trip, some things I didn’t realize until later. I loved submersing myself in a different culture with a slower pace than America. I developed an appreciation for the wealth of our nation, and I learned a lesson in humility and generosity. I had brought gifts with me to give to the people who worked at my family’s home. Toward the end of my stay, the lady who cleaned the house gave me a duck as a show of friendship. My gifts were nothing of great value, trinkets really, but this gift could feed her family when they had very little for themselves. I’m still in awe of this woman’s beautiful soul. This experience inspired me to give unconditionally when I give and to become a kinder person. And the overall experience helped me better focus on what I really need in my life (the basics of survival, family, friends, love and purpose) versus what popular culture tells me I need.

2)   What is the funniest thing you have ever experienced?

This is very hard to answer, because I find humor in everyday life. I think my brain is hardwired for comedy. Nevertheless, the best stories are when I can laugh at myself, like the time I grabbed my new work cell phone from my van on a Monday morning with the intention of programming numbers into it. Low and behold, there were numbers already programmed into the directory. How odd, I thought, and proceeded to delete them. That is until I came across my brother-in-law’s number and then my husband’s. Finally, I saw the name of my friend’s mother-in-law. Aha! I figured it out and I must say, “How clever.” I called my friend. “Well, it’s the weirdest thing. I got a new work cell phone and it has such and such numbers in it. Did you turn in a phone to US Cellular?” She said, “No, but I left my phone in your van yesterday.” Total forehead slapping moment. You’d think I’d be too embarrassed to tell anyone, but it was hilarious. I couldn’t help myself.

3)   Who is your favorite author and why?

There are many great writers, and Wally Lamb is one of my favorites. He is a phenomenal writer with great insight into characters, and he weaves intricate plots that fit together beautifully. Mr. Lamb inspires me.

4)     If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

I would be Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. Even though Willoughby hurts her in the end, I admire her willingness to risk it all for a chance at great happiness. Then she opens herself up again, allows Colonel Brandon to love her, and finds an alternate route to happiness, less exciting, but solid and satisfying all the same.

5)     If you were a can of soup, what variety would you be?

I love this question. Alphabet Soup? I am a writer, after all.

If you know what’s good for you, you’ll rush right out and get Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half , book 2 in her Beau Monde Bachelor series (currently on pre-order, but official release is this Tuesday, June 5!) Here’s the blurb from the back jacket cover…

JAKE BROKE HER HEART BY LEAVING HER AFTER SHARING A PASSIONATE KISS.

LADY AMELIA BROKE HIS BY MARRYING HIS BEST FRIEND.

When she returns to town a widow—pursued by an infamous rake, Jake’s debauched brother, and just maybe by himself—Lady Amelia will have a mess and a half on her hands.

A sparkling romp through the ton, Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half delivers a witty Regency romance in which misunderstandings abound, reputations are put on the line, and the only thing more exciting than a scandal is true love.

Thanks for letting me run the interview again, Samantha…and best of luck on the new release!! 🙂

GIVEAWAY!

One lucky commenter will receive free copies of both Samantha’s Lady Amelia’s Mess and Half, as well as a copy of my newest release, The Gypsy Bride!

Please make sure you visit Samantha on the web:

Romantic Times Convention!

Well, I think I’m finally settled after a crazy week in Chicago, which was followed by a crazy week trying to get our 2-year-old resettled at home (she spent the week with Grandma and Grandpa)

I apologize for the delay in this post, but in addition to dealing with a slightly crazy kid, I’ve also been very hard at work at the next installment of The Daring Debutante’s series. The Gypsy Bride is well under way, and I’m having SO much fun writing it! I do hope everyone will have as much fun reading it 🙂

Anyhoo, a few quick highlights of my week in Chicago…

1) Getting to be with my “girlz”, Ava Stone and Tammy Falkner (who collectively make up Lydia Dare), Jane Charles, Catherine Gayle, Erin Knightly, Samantha Grace and Rose Gordon — some of my very best friends in the world! We were nearly inseparable and had SO much fun together!

2) Getting to spend time with some other authors that I love and admire, like Deb Marlowe, Sabrina Jeffries, Heather Snow and L.J. Charles, and getting to meet tons more fabulous authors!

3) Getting to sign my books at a BIG book signing!

4) Getting to taste all kinds of alcoholic Regency beverages! That was a really fun workshop, and it made me VERY grateful that I live in 2012. It also makes me wonder what people will think of Cosmos and Mudslides 200 years from now! LOL!

5) Playing “Who Wants to be a Duchess” led by Ava Stone, Sabrina Jeffries, Deb Marlowe and Tammy Falkner. My hubby and I both made it to baroness status and walked around the rest of the day in our boas 🙂

6) Meeting readers!!! Fans are what make all the hard work worth while, and meeting them in person is the greatest thing in the world!

7) Forcing my fellow cohorts in the new Timeless Quills Historical Romance group to join in a photo shoot. I love the camera, from both sides, but I’m pretty much alone in that area. Ha!

Here are some pics from the week! Hope you enjoy!

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!

Tonight is the live chat with all 12 authors of the Regency Christmas Summons Anthology! And TODAY is the last day to enter our massive drawing! Come to Lady Scribes and leave a message there to be entered to WIN!

Lady Scribes

And then be sure to join us tonight for the live chat from 8-10pm EST!