Saturday, November 15, 2014

FOSTER CARE ~ Drake Springs Book 2

What do you think when you hear "Foster Care?" In Drake Springs, "Foster Care" isn't used in the usual sense. Foster Care, located in Foster County and run by the two Foster sisters, is a nursery school and daycare facility. Actually, it's the nursery school and daycare. Drake Springs is a small town, and before the sisters opened Foster Care, working parents had few options for childcare. 

Kirby and Mandy Foster share a passion for children and education, so their chosen career paths make sense. Both vow to keep Foster Care open even in the event they marry. In Kirby's case, marriage is highly unlikely. She's gun shy after her ex betrayed her. Older sister Mandy is just too picky to find Mr. Right.

When a private investigator asks Kirby out to dinner, she knows it's a safe date. He'll soon head back to New Jersey, and she's not serious about any guy. But Nick Tomasi isn't just any guy. He's amazingly easy to talk to (and amazingly easy on the eyes, too). In fact, he seems eerily familiar. It's as if she's known him her entire adult life. How could that be?

As for Nick, could the pretty red-haired Kirby knock him off his game? Soon he falls victim to her "Foster Care" and almost forgets his real reason for the trip to Drake Springs. When Kirby finds out, all hope for a future with her almost soul mate evaporates. Can Nick save the day and win the girl, or will he ride off into the sunset?

Foster Care is available in digital formats from the following sites:

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Where is Harper, Georgia?

The fourth and final holiday story in Christmas Blessings is mine, Hometown Blessings. The title's "hometown" is fictional Harper, Georgia, which is located vaguely near Cleveland, Georgia, in the mountains.

If you visit Cleveland (or any of the area's towns) you'll get a feel for the small town of Harper. My mental model for the town actually was Jasper, Georgia, but I wanted it located a bit closer to Gainesville and Atlanta. Folks in the North Georgia mountains get along. As with most small towns, they band together to help neighbors in need. Plenty of churches of all denominations dot the landscape, and there's a town square with the county courthouse and surrounding local businesses.

And there's good eats! In fact, the "Good Eats" man himself, Alton Brown, is from Georgia. The Smith House in Dahlonega and the Dillard House in Dillard are just two of the many family style restaurants where great local cuisine is served in large bowls (all you can eat!) that get passed around the table. Some of these seat you at large tables with strangers, but you won't be strangers long. Nothing breaks the ice like breaking bread together--usually cornbread.

The Moonlight Diner sits right in the center of Harper, right on the town square, and owner Maudine Jones serves the best biscuits in the South. It's where locals gather for the lunch special or simply for a coffee break. If you're law enforcement, Maudine gives you free coffee, so guess where local cops take their breaks.

Right before Thanksgiving, Harper decorates the town with lighted candy canes on each lamp post. Every place of business participates with lights of their own. The first Saturday in December is the parade and festival, followed that evening by the tree lighting and, weather permitting, street dance.

Welcome to Harper, Georgia. Y'all come on in and sit a spell. Get to know the friendly folks and yummy food. Enjoy Hometown Blessings.

And don't y'all forget to enter the giveaway! You can enter again today even if you've already participated.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tour Low Lake, Florida

Multi-published romance author Patty Howell is today's guest blogger, and she created her own southern town for her Christmas story, Low Lake. Patty calls Suwannee County, Florida, home now but has lived all over the world. She's known as a skilled editor, too. And she's also known as my friend and colleague. Be sure to read her story, The Blessing of Forgiveness, part of Christmas Blessings.

The setting for the Blessing of Forgiveness is Low Lake, a fictionalized small town in North Florida that borders Suwannee County. The town has grown over the last twenty years and now hosts about 20,000 residents. For big-city shopping and more elegant dining the townsfolk can travel to Jacksonville, Tallahassee, or Gainesville.

Low Lake’s fame is its churches. Almost every denomination is served and they work together to take care of the less fortunate living among them. Although snow isn’t an attraction at Christmas time, the love and warmth of its residents will melt even the coldest of hearts.

Some of my characters were born and raised in Low Lake, others have moved here from far and wide, but all agree on one thing: even in its growth, Low Lake takes care of its own.
Don't miss Christmas in Low Lake, Florida. And don't miss out on the giveaway. You may enter every day for a print copy of The Heart of Christmas.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Magic of Mistletoe, Tennessee

When it comes to Christmas tradition, no town does a better job than Mistletoe, Tennessee. Just ask its creator, author Judith Leigh, our next guest poster. Judy is a good friend, and her compassion and sensitivity show up in her writing.

My setting for Mistletoe Blessings came about one day when I was looking through a travel magazine. I spotted a picture of a snow-covered town, the kind that you see on a Courier & Ives Christmas card. The caption read Why Not Spend Christmas on Lookout Mountain. I knew where I was going to send my heroine, and since they grow Mistletoe around the area that is what I named my town.

Mistletoe is in Tennessee. The small town has grown somewhat and boasts a population of 7,950 residents. When they want to do heavy shopping and fancy eating, they go to Nashville or Chattanooga. Mistletoe is noted for its magical happenings. Many tourists have experienced the strange feelings that come over them while looking at the town’s angel statue. It stands near the center of town next to a Gazebo. It’s a place where dreams come true.     

Many of my characters were born and raised there. Others left then returned to stay forever. Warmth and love surround this town. The citizens are always there for each other with a helping hand and encouragement. It’s a place that once you come here you don’t want to leave; and if you do leave, you’ll come back again and again. 

Come on, why not plan a trip to Mistletoe? See what magic awaits this Christmas. We’re waiting for y'all at the cafĂ© with a glass of milk and a piece of Tami’s Christmas cake.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway. You may enter every day! 

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Welcome to Stableton, Florida

Today's guest post is from Susan Sweet, friend and author of inspirational stories for Highland Press and mysteries for Wings ePress. Susan takes us on a tour of her story's small town.

Dan Forest returned to his home town Stableton, Florida, after losing his wife and daughter to the devastating floods of Hurricane Katrina. He needed to be around his family and friends to put his life back together.
Stableton is a fictional small town in northern Florida, where there are fewer than 25,000 people. It boasts one major fire department, a sheriff's office, one hospital, and one large shopping strip which includes a major grocery store. Everyone there either knows you or has heard of you, but in a nice way. The closest major town is Jacksonville. If you need the attractions that city holds, you have to travel only 35 miles.
The citizens are friendly, helpful and actually care about the well-being of their fellow neighbors and friends. This is the town I've picked for my character's haven. This is the town where Betty and her daughter Amber rejoin their family to try and move on after tragedy struck them. You'll see how the family atmosphere of this small town steps in to do just that very thing.

Don't miss A Flood of Blessings, the lead story in Christmas Blessings. And don't forget to enter the giveaway. You may enter every day.

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Saturday, November 08, 2014

Small Town Holiday Stories

I'm a sucker for corny holiday stories. When George Bailey races through the snowy Christmas Eve to the town square of Bedford Falls yelling "Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter" I choke up. It's a Wonderful Life is a wonderful lesson in appreciating what we have.

Shopping for books, I'm drawn to cover art featuring a snow-covered town square decorated for Christmas. During November and December, my default channel on my TV is Hallmark because the network shows holiday films every day. Some I've watched a dozen times, like November Christmas, and I still boo hoo when the town pulls out all the stops to move up the calendar for a leukemia-stricken little girl (Spoiler alert: She lives. I couldn't watch it if she didn't).

Sure, good holiday stories are set in large cities, too, none better than Miracle on 34th Street. My first trip to the Big Apple included a shopping trip to the Macy's on 34th. Of course. Unfortunately, it was August and St. Nicholas wasn't there yet. Most of my favorites, though, take place in small towns.

My writing colleagues (and now my good friends!) and I put together an anthology of inspirational stories featuring feel-good Christmas stories set in small, Southern towns. Over the next few days, we'll give you a tour of each story's community.

We believe Christmas Blessings makes a good gift for the readers on your list. You may enjoy our previous anthology, The Heart of Christmas. The set would make a doubly good gift. Be sure to enter the giveaway to win a free copy of The Heart of Christmas. You can enter every day!

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Saturday, November 01, 2014


Who knew? November 1 is, among other things, officially National Author's Day, a day when you show your appreciation for authors you've read, especially those whose stories made an impact on your life.

So many authors have impacted my life. Where to begin? Of course, there are the classics, like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Mark Twain. Leo Tolstoy, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald. But today I pick one, and sadly he's gone. Died too soon. Here is my tribute to...

Michael Crichton.

I first read Michael Crichton after seeing a movie in the 1970s called The Carey Treatment (starring James Coburn and Jennifer O'Neil). The film credits mentioned the novel upon which it was based as A Case of Need by Jeffrey Hudson (It would be decades before I learned Jeffrey Hudson was a pseudonym for John Michael Crichton). I found the book and read it. A page turner, it surpassed the movie (although the film was exciting!), as is often the case with novels-turned-movies. 

After discovering his work, I couldn't get enough and devoured every book he'd written. I soon learned he was also a screenwriter, and his screenwriting credits included such gems as RunawayWestworld, Twister, and Robin Cook's novel-turned-film Coma.

But the novel that grabbed me and wouldn't let go--for whatever reasons--was Jurassic Park. In childhood I had a fascination with dinosaurs that led me to books like Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Mysterious Island by Jules Verne, and I guess it lingered. I read the book on the MARTA on my way to work in downtown Atlanta and became so engrossed that (thank God my bosses never caught me!) I once smuggled the book into the Ladies Room so I could sit in private and finish a chapter. Now that is one compelling read! I finished it in a day (during my ride home) and then wanted more!

Soon as I finished the book, I heard there would be a movie. The movie doesn't follow the book exactly, of course, or they'd lose the PG rating and younger audience. The film version is good but could never engross me the way Crichton's book had. I still rank Jurassic Park among my top ten favorite books, right up there with A Christmas Carol, Pride and Prejudice, and The Great Gatsby. Yeah, I liked it that much.

I never met Crichton--more's the pity because I sure wanted to--and now he's gone. Too bad. I would like to wish him Happy National Authors Day.