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2012 in Review

A little over an hour before 2013 and already it sounds like a war zone outside my house. Fireworks abound. Here I am again writing my year in review post. Lots have happened this 2012. Dreams have come true. Lots of lessons learned. Love. Loss. Realizations and enlightenment. Trips of a lifetime. Friends made. Friends lost.

Now, I’m not just a survivor anymore. I’m living my life, waking up doing what I love. A few short years ago, I thought none of these were possible. I was stuck in a job I hated, mingling with people who wore smiles while they secretly plotted your demise. Basically my life was one big soap opera. Boy am I happy I’m not in that constant state of stress anymore. Would have seriously shortened my life, let me tell you.

Anyway, I’m here to reminisce on my 2012 adventure.

I began 2012 writing. What a way to start the year, right?

I’d decided to rewrite Reaping Me Softly, which used to be called Blind, and came up with the Suicide Whisperers. I didn’t think Reaping would find a home at the time and I didn’t want to let go of Niko and Arianne. But as I finished writing Suicide Whisperers, Blind found a home and it was renamed Reaping Me Softly. What an amazing turn of events that was.

Lesson here, just because someone says something is crap doesn’t mean you have to listen to him. There’s always hope when you’re willing to keep trying, finding different avenues to take, move forward no matter what.

Little did I know that in October (my favorite month) Reaping would be released into the world. But, again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Mental note: must edit Suicide Whisperers and remove all the chapters I cannibalized from Reaping and make it into its own novel. I’d love to share that particular story with all of you in the future.

Once I finished writing Suicide Whisperers, I went straight into editing Taste. This is the first time I ever experienced editing with an actual editor. I wasn’t afraid to slash my novel to bits if I had to. I’ve come to realize the year before that editing is always to bring out the best in a novel. It’s never a personal thing. Editing actually allows you to see different roads that weren’t there when you started writing the story.

This is why editors rock!

You know who you are. There’s a statue built in your honor. Trust me, it’s there.

Once Taste resembled a novel I would be proud of sending out into the world, I prepared for its release. During this time, I met so many bloggers. They are the lifeblood of this increasingly digital age. Authors owe bloggers a great amount of gratitude. They help spread the word about a novel. An awesome community of people.

To all the bloggers out there who helped spread the word about Taste and Reaping Me Softly, I’m utterly grateful. The bloggers participating in the Taste blog tour happening this January 7 to 16, 2013, I’m super excited to be working with all of you. Thank you, Didi for putting the party together.

Of course, I can’t recount this year without discussing my trip to Las Vegas—the first time I ever travelled on my own. It took me three airplanes, an obstacle course of a connection that involved being ratted out by Snoopy for daring to bring down a ham sandwich, and a shuttle. To say I was scared out of my mind doesn’t come close to how I was feeling, but what’s an adventure without a dose of fear? I had so much fun, I was delirious from it. I met so many awesome people. Liz, Mary, Carmen, Sarah, Guillian, the lovely ladies from Australia, and all the writers and editors of Entangled that were there.

I got a taste of many firsts while in Vegas. I rode a limo for the first time. I saw Taste in the flesh as an actual book. I experienced my very first book signing. And all of this just in one day. That whole week changed my life. It showed me I could.

I arrived home a different person. I started thinking about the changes I want to happen in my life. The people I love and want to keep and those I have to part ways with. Breaking up is always a painful process, but if you have to do it so you can grow then it’s a necessary hurt.

I will be the first to admit I’m not the easiest friend to have. I can be selfish. I can be lots of things. Most of all, I can be fiercely loyal. I’d kill for my friends. Only the truly strong can last as my friend. I disappoint easily and forget people are human. These are the flaws and strengths about myself that I’ve realized this 2012, and I will be working on improving this 2013. Like the butterfly that is the symbol of change, I have to learn to let go. Not to obsess. Nothing is as bad as it is.

2012 brought so much change in my life. This year taught me that possibilities are infinite. What you do with inspiration matters. And everything that comes from the heart can’t be wrong. There may be differences in opinion, but that’s a part of life. Hurt happens, but healing does too.

My career as a writer is on the path I couldn’t have imagined any better than when I was telling my mother about it years ago. Dreams really do come true if you work hard enough at it. Today, all the novels I’ve submitted have found homes. I’m on the final stretch of writing Unreap My Heart, the next book after Reaping Me Softly. I’ve finished writing Savor and will edit it after writing Unreap. Angie, my writing sis, expect the last half of Unreap in your inbox soon. Then I will write Fervor, which is the twin to Savor. And when I get the editing notes for Til Death, I will be editing that was well. Basically, my plate is pretty full for the first quarter of 2013 already, and I look forward to every wonderful minute of it.

Everything I wanted I got this year. The universe has been generous. I feel happiness so deep it doesn’t frighten me like it used to anymore. I’m learning to live in the moment—which isn’t as easy as you might think, but so much fun attempting.

For 2013 my main goal is to let go. To breathe. I need to learn not to be in control all the time. Everything happens at the right time. I can’t rush the universe. Patience is my friend. Can you smell the New Year already? I sure can.

I’m so glad the world didn’t end the way the Mayan’s predicted.

If I thought 2012 was awesome, I have a feeling 2013 will be a magnificent year.

Thank you so much for hanging out here this year, and I look forward more adventures and misadventures.

Happy New Year, everyone!

May all your dreams come true and best wishes to all your future endeavors.

*hugs*

Kate, over and out.

THE TIME CAPSULE MEME year 2012

Another year is coming to a quick end. Last year, I joined a meme started on LiveJournal, which is now on Dreamwidth, and I've modified it for Blogger. Here's the original meme:


Here's my modification:

♡ Make yourself a post so your friends can leave you a message in the comments section with their thoughts about you, their wishes for you for next year, etcetera.
♡ In the post itself, leave a message for yourself... anything you can look back on next year and reminisce about.
♡ On January 8th, 2013, edit the post to Saved As Draft. In December of 2013, re-publish the post so you can look through your old comments from the year before and see the difference a year makes.
♡ On the post, you must add the HTML of the original meme from Dreamwidth (must give credit where credit is due).

I've republished my post from last year, and this is my post for this year.

Here's my message to myself:

Heya, Kate!

You're on top of the world. So many things have happened, a lot of them you still don't believe actually happened. Sometimes you wake up thinking you're living in a dream. You're doing what you love. Writing novels is the love of your life and it makes you happy. You've learned to obsess less and let go more. You've learned so much already, but you know you have much more to learn. Despite everything you've achieved, you've remained humble. Continue to believe in what you do. Trust your gut. Remember that your work matters. Follow your instinct. Always write the story from your heart. 

Sincerely,
Yourself of 2012

Please feel free to use the meme for your blog. It's a great way to end the year and start a new one. Please leave your well wishes in the comments section. *hugs*

Happy New Year, everyone!

THE TIME CAPSULE MEME year 2011

Here's the re-posting of this meme from last year. It's pretty cool how things have changed since December 2011. I'm going to make a new one for this year coming in the next post. 

~*~

Hi, all!

My awesome friend, Noey (singer/songwriter), led me to this meme which is actually on LiveJournal. I liked the idea so much that I wanted to adopt it for Blogger. Here's how the original meme works on LiveJournal:


Sounds cool right?

Here's my Blogger Modification:

♡ Make yourself a post so your friends can leave you a message in the comments section with their thoughts about you, their wishes for you for next year, etcetera.
♡ In the post itself, leave a message for yourself... anything you can look back on next year and reminisce about.
♡ On January 1st, 2012, edit the post to Saved As Draft. In December of 2012, re-publish the post so you can look through your old comments from the year before and see the difference a year makes.
♡ On the post, you must add the HTML of the original meme from LiveJournal (must give credit where credit is due).

That's it. A simple enough meme, but it holds so much meaning. It brings friends and community together. It is my hope that you start this meme on your blog as well.

Okay, let's start...

MESSAGE TO SELF

Hi, Kate!

A dream has come true for you. Two years ago, you didn't think you would get this far, let alone have an agent to help with your writing career. So much excitement. A year ago, you broke up with your agent and decided to start over. It almost caused you to stumble from your path, to lose belief in your dream. But you stayed strong, you continued to believe. Well, 2012 has shown you that anything is truly possible. That you have to continue to hold on, no matter how painful gripping the line gets. Keep holding on. Now you will be able to share the stories of the people in your head with the world. Like I said, a dream has come true for you. Stay positive. Believe in yourself. Hold on to the little things that make you happy in this life. Tell those you care about that you love them. Hug them. And never forget to stay humble and patient. All things come in good time.

Sincerely,
Yourself of 2011

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Enjoyed reading Taste? 
Please take a second to recommend it on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13484226-taste 
Thank you!

Day 24: Michelle McLean

24DaysofGuestPostsandGiveaways

'Twas the night before Christmas...well, on my side of the world it's technically the afternoon, but I thought I'd put today's 24 Days of Guest Posts and Giveaways together now since tonight's gonna be crazy. There are so many things I can't believe, and one of them is that we're at the last day of the 24 Days. It's bittersweet. I had so much fun putting these posts together and opening the giveaways for all of you. I loved communicating with my fellow authors and sending them all the information they needed for this event.

The mythical "they" always say when something ends it's so something new can begin. In a few days, it's the new year, 20-freakin'-13. *shakes head* Another year of possibilities. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, let's end this event like we started it: with the kind of excitement the season brings.

It's winner announcement time!

Let's get together and pour some holiday cheer for: Pati.

*yey* You have won an ebook copy of Open Minds. Susan will send you an email about your prize as soon as she can. Happy holidays, Pati!

There are still five more giveaways going on including the one for today, so please make sure to enter them all before they close. You can still win any of the prizes up for grabs.

I love today's post because I always love waking up Christmas morning to find out what Santa has left me inside my stocking. There are so many possible stocking stuffers out there, and Michelle is sharing with us her top five.

The blog's all yours, Michelle!

~*~

I love Christmas. It’s my absolute favorite time of year. My top 5 stocking stuffers change depending on who I am giving them to. My kids, for instance, usually get stuff like cool toothbrushes, watches, hair things, little toys, DVDs or video games, etc. And just in general, I’d say you can never go wrong with jewelry or gift cards :)

As a writer, these are the things I’d love to find in my stocking:

1. Books or a gift card for books –

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Really, as boring as my husband might think this is, it ROCKS. Most writers I know are very avid readers as well, and is there anything more awesome than getting a new book?

2. Office supplies –

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Again, the hubs might snooze, but man does my little heart go pitter-pat when I get my hands on a bunch of new pens and Post Its and notebooks oooo and especially organizational stuff like binders and bins and cork boards and those really pretty push pins and paper clips and....well you get the point :D

3. Computer software –

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I got that Dragonware program that will read your manuscript to you last year and this year I’d LOVE to find Scrivener tucked into my stocking!

4. Music –

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Music sets the mood for me. Some books I have soundtracks for that I just leave on repeat while I’m writing. Others I have to write in silence, but I still use specific songs to get me in the write mood :) Some of my favorites are Apocalyptica, Evanescence, Rob Dougan, E.S. Posthumous, The Piano Guys, Escala...my typical mood setting stuff) :) And when I’m just kicking back and reading, I love having music going in the background, so a good CD or iTunes gift card is definitely a great stocking stuffer for me.

5. Aqua Notes

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Have you seen these things?! It's a notepad you hang IN YOUR SHOWER. I get probably 80% of my awesome ideas and epiphanies in the shower and I forget about 90% of those before I get out of the shower. NO MORE! I got these in my stocking last year and would love to find another set in there this year. They are just AWESOME. I used them to write down those awesome ideas before they go down the drain :D and my family has started using them to leave little notes to each other lol

~*~

I think I need Dragonware. *crossing fingers that Santa would bring it* I hope I'm not on the naughty list, *laughs* What great suggestions, Michelle! I think it really does come down to knowing the owner of the stocking. Personally? Anything minty and chocolaty makes me happy. 

Alright, let's get to know Michelle a little more:

Michelle is the author of HOMEWORK HELPERS: ESSAYS AND TERM PAPERS (Career Press 2011), and TREASURED LIES (Entangled Scandalous Jan 2013). She has a B.S. in History, a M.A. in English, an insatiable love of books, and more weird quirks than you can shake a stick at. If she's not editing, reading, or chasing her kids around, she can usually be found in a quiet corner working on her next book. She currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband and two young children, an insanely hyper dog, and two very spoiled cats.

Please make sure to visit her at the following places:

Website – http://authormichellemclean.com and http://treasuredlies.com

Blog Link – http://authormichellemclean.com and http://operationawesome6.blogspot.com 

Twitter - @michellemclean

Facebook:

Personal - https://www.facebook.com/michelle.m.mclean

Author Page - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Michelle-McLean/183714415115?ref=hl

As a special treat, not only do we get a blurb for Michelle's upcoming release with Entangled, we also get an excerpt too. Yey!

Here's the blurb:

A young woman in Victorian England must trust a master thief she intends to betray in order to find a legendary necklace that could save her fiance. But in searching for the necklace, she may lose her heart.

Excerpt:

“You won’t tell me?” Min asked.

He brought his gaze up to meet hers, speaking through clenched teeth. “I can’t tell you.” 

“Yet you dare question whether or not I’m sharing everything with you.” The hypocrisy was a bitter sting on her tongue, but better that than hand everything to him and get nothing in return.

Bryant leaned in, his lips brushing across her jaw line. Min gasped, her heart pounding so hard she couldn’t breathe. “Do you think you are the only one distracted here?” he whispered into her ear. “And do you think I believe for a moment you’ve told me everything?” His finger dipped into the neckline of her blouse and trailed along the locket’s chain.

Min jerked back, but he wouldn’t let go.

“The difference, my dear Minuette, is the more I tell you, the more danger I put you in. I’m trying to keep you safe.” He rubbed his cheek against hers. “Why are you hiding things from me?”

“Because I don’t trust you,” Min murmured.

“I don’t trust you either,” he whispered just before his lips met hers.

Want more? Well, Treasured Lies will be available in January, so make sure to watch out for it wherever books are sold. It's promising to be an awesome read.

For now, also check out Homework Helpers: Essays and Term Papers here.

~*~

Last GIVEAWAY of the season!

Get it while it's hot.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open until Dec. 29, 2012.

If you want to share this giveaway on your blog or website, the HTML code can be found here.

For all the up to date dish on the rest of the 24 Days of Guest Posts and Giveaways, please make sure to like the Facebook Page.

Day 23: Maer Wilson

24DaysofGuestPostsandGiveaways

It's Day 23, people. Day 23! This is not a drill. We have reached the penultimate post for the 24 Days of Guest Posts and Giveaways. We've had 22 fantastic posts, we have announced 17, and will announce one more today. Oh, but this is not the end, folks! We have two more amazing posts and giveaways to watch out for, so continue coming back.

Today's winner of an e-book copy of Secret Santa Baby and a diamond ring Christmas ornament is:

Kristine R

Congratulations, Kristine! Robin will email you as soon as she can. *hugs*

Robin's giveaway may be over, but there are still a few more you can enter to win the prizes. First, there's Susan's Open Minds giveaway. Then there's Patty's Divinity prize package. Once you're done entering those, make sure to enter Amy's Baby, It’s Cold Outside giveaway. The most recent giveaway is Cecily's beaded bookmark and Starbucks gift card giveaway. Enter them all now!

*claps* Alright! We're all caught up. Now, let's get to today's guest post courtesy of Maer. She shares with us her Top 5 Things she loves about Christmas. Take it away, Maer!

~*~

My Top Five Fave Christmas List 

It seems that every year the Christmas Holiday Season starts earlier and earlier. That’s okay with me because I love the holidays and so much that goes along with it. When I was a kid, Christmas started a couple weeks beforehand. Sort of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Now, we seem to go straight from Halloween right into Christmas and that’s fine by me.

Since we’re only two days away now, I’m prepared and in kick-back-and-enjoy-it mode. My shopping is done and has been for some time. I’ll need last minute food things but that’s it. I’m snug and warm, with wood for the fireplace. My Christmas playlist is on and I can enjoy the holiday.

I shake my head in amazement at how fast this year has flown by, but my year is almost over and it’s a good time for reflection. In keeping with the season, here are my Top Five Fave things about Christmas.

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Coming in at Number Five are Christmas decorations. I love looking at all the sparkly bling and lights everywhere. I can sit and watch our family tree for ages. It’s decorated with thousands of lights and tons of ornaments, so there’s always something to see on it. I passed the torch of actually decorating the tree on to my younger brother several years ago, so now I get to sit back and enjoy the tree without all the work. It’s a great view from back here.

Number Four is for Food, Drink and Smells! I get to break my diet and enjoy all my favorite things. We usually celebrate over two days with family and friends wandering in and out from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day. We munch all sorts of snacks throughout, with complete meals of ham on Christmas Eve and turkey on Christmas Day and all the trimmings, of course. Look up “feast” and you’ll find our picture there. For drinks this time of year, I love mulled wine or hot cider or hot chocolate, with butterscotch schnapps, topped with whipped cream. And I love the wonderful smell of food cooking and cakes, pies and cookies baking. Scented candles and pine trees and cinnamon are also season faves.

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Number Three of my Top Five is for the Spirit of the Season and overall party atmosphere this time of year. In fact, I’ve noticed that people seem in a better mood the last few years. Maybe extending the season, so people aren’t cramming all their shopping into two weeks is a good thing and people get to relax more. Maybe I’ve just managed to get to the store when other nice people are there. People smile and nod at each other. There isn’t that super rush around the store, except for maybe a few folks. The rest seem in good spirits and there’s a lot of “After you”s as baskets almost collide.

Number Two is music. I adore Christmas music. I dust off my playlists and listen to my fave artists. My tastes are pretty eclectic so I’ve got artists from classical to Broadway to pop to rock on that list. I love Trans-Siberian Orchestra and usually listen to several of their albums a few times during the season. There’s almost always a mix of traditional with modern playing in the background at my house.

But for Number One, the thing I love most about Christmas is the coming together for my friends and family. There are some folks I only get to see at Christmas, so that makes it even more special. Visiting, catching up on the latest family gossip and just hanging out. Multiple conversations in various rooms, the delicious smells in the background. Dogs dashing about and looking hopeful that something will drop on the floor for them to snatch up in a flash.
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And I love the look on my family’s faces as they open their presents from me. Not anything super expensive, usually. There are years when I craft or make things for presents. I like those best. Sometimes I start as early as summer. Of course, I don’t do that every year, but every few years, something will catch my attention to make for my family and friends and off I go. I like making things, as long as they turn out well. If they don’t, I scrap the idea and hit the stores and internet for fun ideas. But I like the feeling of making something special for each person.

Over the years, I’ve turned out some cool presents. Last year was a big hit with homemade Kahlua that I started in summer. I ordered special bottles and even made up little recipe books for each bottle. Each book had a beaded cover with their name on it. Very blingish. This year, nothing was jumping out at me saying “Make me!” so I had to use the internet to come up with cool ideas. It’s not as much fun as making things, though.

Still, I love that look on their faces when they open their presents and appreciate the effort I went to. The present opening part takes forever because we only open one at a time. That way everyone can ooh and aah over what the others get. That camaraderie, laughter, warmth and love in our extended family is super important and every moment spent with my family is a special treasure for me.

Well, those are my special moments and favorite things. No matter how you and yours celebrate the season, I wish you the very Happiest of Holidays! Take care, everyone and stay safe!

~*~

I love that you start as early as summer, Maer! Here in the Philippines, we start as early as September and celebrate well into January. It's really the spirit of the season and thank you so much for sharing with us your top five. 

Now that we know Maer's top five favorite things about Christmas, let's get to know her a little better:

After a successful career being other people, and later teaching others the many tricks of that trade, Maer Wilson has decided to be herself for a while. Turns out she's a writer. She's always loved stories, especially fantasy, mystery and sci fi. She was born in the year of the dragon and adores anything to do with them. She even has a dragon-themed room in her home, but sadly no dragons in the back yard. When she's not writing, Maer plays online video games (MMOs), teaches college and reads. She lives in the high desert of Southern Nevada with her two dogs, a chihuahua and a poodle. Relics is her first novel and will be released June, 2013. Maer also co-hosts a new podcast on and about the world of publishing, with guests who include writers, publishers, artists and editors. Feel free to stop by and leave a comment on her website or give a listen to her podcast.

Make sure to visit Maer at these following places:

Websites: Maer Wilson's Website and Blog and MythBehaving - Maer's Podcast

Twitter: @MaerWilson

Facebook: Maer Wilson Page and MythBehaving Podcast Page

Afterwards, make sure to add Relics to your TBR pile on Goodreads:

When the creatures of myth and magic return to Earth, they're nothing like your mother's fairy tales.

Most of Thulu and La Fi's clients are dead. Which is perfect since their detective agency caters to the supernatural. So, a job finding relics for an ancient daemon is simple.

The daemon needs the relics to keep a dangerous portal closed. His enemy, Gabriel, wants the relics to open the portal and give his people access to a new feeding ground – Earth.

Hoping to create chaos, Gabriel opens portals to other worlds and the creatures of magic return to Earth, stunning humanity with their existence. When Gabriel threatens their family, Thulu and La Fi's job becomes personal. They'll need powerful allies in the race to find the relics before Gabriel does. But maybe that's what grateful dead, magical allies and daemonic clients are for.

RELICS by Maer Wilson is scheduled to be published in June 2013 by Crescent Moon Press.
Cover Release - Please check Maer’s website, Facebook Page, or her book link for news updates, including her cover reveal.

~*~

Ready for a GIVEAWAY?

It's now or never!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open until Dec. 28, 2012.

If you want to share this giveaway on your blog or website, the HTML code can be found here.

For all the up to date dish on the rest of the 24 Days of Guest Posts and Giveaways, please make sure to like the Facebook Page.

Day 22: Cecily White

24DaysofGuestPostsandGiveaways

Christmas is three days away. How did that happen? I know time flies, but this is ridiculous. A friend of mine sent me a text message saying the exact same thing. Thank goodness the world didn't end! Now we get to open our presents under the tree, get to drink a little more eggnog, get to spend more time with our family. Yes, time does fly. I'm just glad I get a little more of it to do all the things I want to do...and finish all the books I want to write. The list is piling up. *laughs*

Let's announce another winner, shall we?

Today's winner of an ebook copy of KISSING KENDAL is: Holly.

Congratulations, Holly! I've sent your information to Jennifer and she will email you soon. Happy holidays!

Now, let's get to today's special post. In all the Christmases that you've experienced through the years some were disasters while others were utterly perfect. Well, today, Cecily shares with us one of her perfect Christmas days! It's such a pleasure having Cecily on the blog today.

Take it away, Cecily!

~*~

Christmas and Zombies and Hedgehogs. . . Oh My!


First, dear readers, let me congratulate you on surviving the dreaded December 21st Zombie Apocalypse, and arriving at December 22nd unscathed.
More where this came from.

Okay, relatively unscathed. I’m sure we all had our challenges yesterday – fleeing the zombies, burning their slavering corpses, explaining to Aunt Zelda why fruitcakes are a tragic and best-forgotten artifact of the 1980’s. But, as a collective group, it looks like we’ve managed to pull it out. . . again. And without the help of Jesse Eisenberg this time!

So SNAPS to you, peeps! We can no doubt anticipate and happy and peaceful forty minutes before someone foretells the great Hedgehog Apocalypse of 2019.

Because, make no mistake, it IS coming!

But I digress....

So, what makes the perfect Christmas day, you ask? Is it presents and holiday carols, mountains of food and wretched caloric excess? Is it friends and family converging to celebrate the goodwill and generosity that make us humans rather than hedgehogs?

No, to me, the perfect Christmas is something indescribable that’s felt deep within. . . not unlike the aftermath of a large Mexican dinner.

It begins as I descend my freshly vacuumed staircase to find my husband (Zac Efron) cooking my fave spinach omelet in an iron skillet. (He prefers to use iron when he cooks for me since it addresses my womanly iron needs and tends to keep fairies away. Oh, and he’s shirtless, did I mention that?) Around the Christmas tree, our children gather, well-groomed and holding hands (definitely not attempting to disembowel each other), while the cat looks on with vague satisfaction, noshing a discarded femur from yesterday’s zombiefest.

In the distance, the fire crackles and CNN hums its soft melody. Anderson Cooper presides over a scene of global unification – Israelis and Palestinians, vegans and carnivores, the Amish and the Kardashians – all rejoicing together in their victory over Zombiekind.

Zac floats to my side and rests a gentle palm at the base of my spine. “You were magnificent last night,” he whispers softly, so the children can’t hear.

I’m not sure if he’s referring to the forty-or-so zombies I dispatched, or to what happened after (wink wink, nudge nudge) so I just smile and blush.

Outside, sunlit snow flutters through the cedars, like a brilliant chorus of falling diamonds across the sky. I can’t help but marvel at how rainbows glitter off the childrens’ hair as they dash outside to frolic in a snow drift. They don’t mind our decision to forgo gifts this year. On the contrary, they’re proud to have played a part in our successful campaign to end world hunger and resolve the global economic downturn.

As Zac pads across the living room to envelop me in a hug, I find myself musing that, today at least, the world is at peace.

Of course, anyone who knows me realizes this is the moment when a new wave of zombie hedgehogs attack, and the neighborhood falls to ruin.

So yeah, maybe the perfect day is a fantasy.

Existentialist philosopher Arthur Shopenhauer once wrote that humans are creatures of striving. That, if given our heart’s desire, we wouldn’t be happy. We’d be miserable. And bored.

I have to wonder if maybe he was right.

Maybe we’re not much better than the noble hedgehog, diligently wading though our slop-field of life. Maybe Zac Efron will never make me a spinach omelet, and my kids will never willingly relinquish their Nintendo.

But I take solace in the knowledge that, for one day, we put aside our petty ‘vegan vs. carnivore’ squabbles. For one day, angels exist. For one day, we let go of the striving and allow ourselves to just be.

Because in the end, aren’t we all perfect versions of ourselves?

(Except for zombies...they stink. Literally.)

So what do you guys think? If you got everything you wanted, would you be happy?

~*~

When I met Cecily in Vegas a couple of months ago, I thought to myself, she's so tall. When I recovered from that, my second thought was, she's so pretty. And then when I recovered from her overall sparkly-ness, I thought, she's so cool and I want to be her friend. So color me happy when she wanted to be a part of this little event I've put together. Yes, Cecily, if you feel like someone's watching you, that's me--in a none creepy, put-the-lotion-in-the-basket kind of way, I promise!

Since I already know everything there is to know about Cecily (not in any weird stalker-y way) it seemed unfair to keep that knowledge all to myself, so here's what you need to know:

Cecily White, Psy.D. is a part-time university professor and full-time mom who loves messing with her characters’ lives. She can swear in Klingon, take down alien aggressors using her mind (or chopsticks), and kill spiders without getting schmutz on her shirt. Cecily currently lives in Missouri with one husband, two children, and a schizophrenic yet well-mannered cat, where she is hard at work on the next book in her upcoming Angel Academy trilogy (April 2013, Entangled Teen).
You can visit her at www.cecilywhite.com.

Besides her website (which is uber cool), here are the other places where I stalk...*coughs* I mean where you can find her:

Blogs: www.doomsdaisies.com, www.entangledteen.com

Twitter: @CecilyWhite

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AngelAcademySeries

Make sure to add Prophecy Girl to your TBR today!

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14741366-prophecy-girl

~*~

Cecily's offered up some awesome prizes for today's GIVEAWAY!

Here's what you can win besides the gift card:


So don't miss out on winning by not entering.


This giveaway is open until Dec. 27, 2012.

If you want to share this giveaway on your blog or website, the HTML code can be found here.

For all the up to date dish on the rest of the 24 Days of Guest Posts and Giveaways, please make sure to like the Facebook Page.

Day 21: Amy Andrews

24DaysofGuestPostsandGiveaways


The end is near.

No, not the end of the world! Although, it is Dec. 21.

What I mean is the end of 24 Days of Guest Posts and Giveaways is near. Can you believe it? When the posts started going live I thought we'd never get here, Day 21. Now that it's real I can't really believe it myself. I think it's because I spent most of the day watching my mother cook turkey. It's a sight to behold. It's one of my favorite holiday memories. You can check out the turkey here.

Before we get to today's post, I want to spread some joy by announcing the winner of another giveaway completed.

Cross your fingers.

The winner of 1 eBook copy of Night Thief and 1 eBook copy of Night Walker is: Kristine R.

*confetti rain*

Congratulations, Kristine! Lisa will email you right away. Happy Holidays!

If you haven't joined any of the giveaways yet and you want a chance to win something, here's a recap of the current giveaways you can still join:

Day 17: Jennifer Shirk
Day 18: Robin Covington
Day 19: Susan Kaye Quinn
Day 20: Patricia Leever

Make sure to check out all their posts too. We have a few Top 5s and a couple sharings. For today's post, we have another Top 5, this time from Amy who shares with us her Top 5 Christmas Memories.

The blog's all yours, Amy!

~*~

Hi Kate and thanks for having me here today. December is a busy month in our family as not only do we celebrate Christmas but we also celebrate three birthdays – my husband’s, my daughter’s and mine! So it’s an extra-special (and yes, extra-expensive) time of the year :-)

As requested, my top five Christmas memories are -

Memory #1

The first Christmas I really remember as a child, my two brothers and I each got the newest fandangled thing on the market – a tape recorder! I think I was about five or six. It was the first time I’d ever heard my own voice and we spent all Christmas day taping ourselves J Also I remember it came with the coolest tape – the soundtrack to Grease!

Memory #2

Back when we were first married my hubby and I lived in the UK for almost two years and then at the end we took a couple of months off and drove around a lot of Western Europe with my sister and her friend. We spent that Christmas eve/day in the Swiss ski resort of Davos where the snow was a metre deep. My best memory was ice-skating (first time ever!) on a frozen lake on Christmas morning and in the distance there were horses pulling sleighs across the ice with their bells a’jingling! I felt like I’d dropped through the rabbit hole right into the lyrics of a Christmas carol.

Memory #3

Decorating the tree. Every year the tree goes up in our house on December 1st and, despite the sun beating down outside, we put on a CD of Bing Crosby singing White Christmas and other snowy carols and we all get stuck in as a family. Now the kids are older the tree looks much better but for many years we suffered through lob-sided trees where all the decorations were clumped together in one patch but they were so proud of their efforts, we didn’t have the heart to move them J The tree going up signals the start of the season for me and I look forward to it every year.

Memory #4

A few years ago we took the kids across to the UK to show them that, for a large section of the world, Christmas looks very different to our blue skies and sunshine. We kept our fingers crossed for a white Christmas but we knew that kind of thing couldn’t be guaranteed. I’m happy to report it snowed like crazy and we spent the Christmas week putting around on a very icy Grand Union Canal in a long boat with my brother and his wife. The countryside was like all those Christmas cards I adored as a child, white and magical! The kids – and I - were in picture-postcard heaven!

Memory #5

I have to say some of my fondest Christmas memories take place in hospital. Being a nurse in my other life, I have been on duty during many a Christmas and even though it is never fun to be sick and away from family at that time of year, there is something really lovely about Christmas in hospital. The wards are all decorated in lights and tinsel, local choirs go carolling from ward to ward, the nurses wear Santa hats and Rudolph earrings and on the day the kitchen goes all out to make the meal extra-wonderful for the patients and staff. It’s a really special day and I feel very privileged to have shared those Christmas’s with my patients.

~*~

Three birthdays? Wow! Does that mean double the presents? My friends how have birthdays this time of years are always annoyed that they get a blanket present--one for both the birthday and the holidays. *laughs* Thank you so much for sharing with us your Top 5 Christmas memories. It's been a pleasure having you over. 

Since we got a glimpse of Amy's life, let's get to know her as an author:

Amy is an award-winning author who has written thirty-two romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon in both the Medical and RIVA/Presents lines. She wrote her first book at the age of twenty-two while unemployed and freezing her butt off in the UK, largely because it involved being able to stay in bed with her electric blanket. One twelve year apprenticeship later she finally got "the call".

To date she's sold over a million books and been translated into thirteen different languages. In 2010 she took out the sexy category in the prestigious Romantic Book of the Year Award affectionately known as The Ruby.

She's recently launched a couple of separate writing ventures with the release of Sister Pact a contemporary women's fiction novel that she wrote with her sister Ros Baxter and was published by Harper Collins Australia as well as the very exciting release of her first category romance, Taming the Tycoon, and a Christmas novella, Baby, It’s Cold Outside, with Entangled Publishing.

In what she euphemistically likes to call her spare time, Amy works part time as a paediatric intensive care nurse and was on the national executive for Romance Writers Of Australia for six years during which time she organised two national conferences and undertook a two year term as president.

She's been married for twenty-two years and has two teenagers. She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane with a gorgeous mountain view but secretly wishes it was the hillsides of Tuscany.

Please make sure to follow Amy accordingly:

Website Link: www.amyandrews.com.au
Twitter: @AmyAndrewsbooks
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amy-Andrews/382936461720040?ref=tn_tnmn

And this year, Amy has a holiday offering in Baby, It’s Cold Outside:

Four novellas from four of the biggest names in romantic fiction! 

When a freak blizzard hits America’s Eastern seaboard, four pairs of strangers spend a hot night together one cold Christmas season! In Tis The Season To Be Kissed, a down-on-her-romantic-luck kindergarten teacher plans to drown her New Year’s Eve sorrows in a gallon of spiked eggnog, but the arrival of her best friend’s sexy brother threatens to melt the snow piling up outside the tiny Vermont cabin.

Make sure to grab your copy here:

Also, Taming the Tycoon by Amy as well from these places:

~*~

Do you want to win a copy of Baby, It’s Cold Outside?

Well, enter the GIVEAWAY now:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


This giveaway is open until Dec. 26, 2012.

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways!

If you want to share this giveaway on your blog or website, the HTML code can be found here.

For all the up to date dish on the rest of the 24 Days of Guest Posts and Giveaways, please make sure to like the Facebook Page.

Day 20: Patricia Leever

24DaysofGuestPostsandGiveaways

Here's an example of the shenanigans that goes on in the Evangelista household. In the midst of a driveway renovation, I tell my mother it's the end of the world tomorrow. Her reaction: "What? No! I won't be able to enjoy my new driveway!" Yes, mom, the driveway.

Can you believe it's December 20 already? And with that Day 20 of 24 Days of Guest Posts and Giveaways? It's been a wonderful ride of wonderful guest posts and awesome giveaways! Again, I couldn't have done it without the generosity of the authors who took time out of their busy schedules to invade my blog. I'm forever grateful and honored! *hugs*

Okay, okay, it's winner announcement time!

Drum roll, please ...

The winner of an eBook of Grave Refrain is: Yadira A.

Congratulations!

Please expect an email from Sarah soon.

For today's post, we're going back to the top 5 series. Today, Patty shares with us her top 5 Christmas beverages! And may I say, Patty has done a great job in promoting the 24 Days of Guest Posts and Giveaways. She is the promoting MVP of this event with tweets, Facebook posts, and more each and every day. Patty, I couldn't have done it without you!

The blog is yours today.

~*~

Season’s greetings and a hidey ho-ho-ho snowy little love monkeys!

First off a big thank you to the fabulous Kate Evangelista for inviting me to come and play on her blog, it is an honor and a privilege.

Alrighty dighty, I’m here to share what I feel is my top 5 holiday drinks, so let’s get down to b’ness!

#1- Wassail

Source

Yep, that’s right, I went old school! My first experience with wassail was at my good friend Melanie’s house when I was a teenager. I don’t remember if we were doing something specific or if we were just over there farting around but her mom, Nancy, made wassail and I have to say that to this day, it isn’t really the holiday season for me until I score a nice warm mug of wassail.

#2- Starbucks Peppermint Mocha

Source

Once a year Starbucks brings out the delectable beverage that is the Peppermint Mocha. My husband turned me onto these and sweet Lord if they aren’t divine! Honestly though, I’m so glad they only bring this bad boy out once a year because otherwise I’d probably seriously addicted.

#3- Sparkling Apple Cider

Source

What? I like sparkling apple cider damn it! Yeah, I know I can buy it any time of the year, but it doesn’t taste the same unless it’s the holidays. I don’t know why, some things just are and there’s no rhyme or reason. This is one of those things.

#4- Hot Coco

Source

Again, yeah, I can have this at any time of the year, but it’s not like I live in the frozen tundra or anything like that. I live in L.A. I don’t even own a winter coat so the occasion for coco is Holiday cheer and about a 2 week window in January.

#5- Eggnog

Source

Much to my chagrin, you just can’t spell holiday drinks without adding eggnog. Granted I think it is one of the vilest drinks on the planet, but my husband loves it. So, every year I get some just for him to enjoy. Yeah, I’m a good wife like that ;)

So there you have it, my top five holiday beverages! I hope all of my sparkly little love monkeys have a glorious holiday season and may the New Year bring you buckets of joy and make all of your dreams come true!

~*~

I see my favorite Christmas drink made it on the list. Wahoo! Now I want one. Great choices, Patty! I have to make it a point to taste eggnog at least once in my life. Putting that on my bucket list (assuming the world doesn't end tomorrow, that is) *laughs* 

Okay, now that we know Patty's top five Christmas beverages, let's get to know this tireless author a bit more:

Patricia Leever is a wife, stay-at-home mom of four and owner of one dog and one little black cat. On the average school day she runs about town like a lunatic picking-up and dropping off kids and trying to find a moment of quiet to write down a word or two. She’s a sci-fi geek that loves to dress up like a zombie and participate in the local zombie march down Main St. and laugh as much as possible; laughter frees the mind and heals the soul.

Please make it a point to stalk her today as your soonest convenience (in short, after you enter the giveaway):

Website- http://patricialeever.com/

Blog- http://patricialeever.com/blog/

Twitter- @Patricia_Leever

Facebook Page- https://www.facebook.com/PatriciaLeever

Facebook Personal- https://www.facebook.com/patty.leever

And we can't get to know Patty without getting to know Divinity too!

Demons.

They’re everywhere, hiding in plain sight. Chances are, you’ve interacted with one or two of them in your lifetime without even realizing it...

Demon hunter Evelyn Brighton saves unsuspecting humans from the malevolent creatures masquerading around them every day. Working under the Lebriga Corporation’s direction, she never fails to bring her A-game with her keen skill, fiercely independent spirit, and the best weapon in her arsenal: the Divinity blade.

Evelyn’s world is turned on its ear, however, when she is ordered to train cocky new recruit Daniel Summers. They both feel an instinctive pull drawing them to one another, the ancient spells tattooed into their skin illuminating whenever the two hunters come into contact. But with evil looming over the city of Los Angeles, Evelyn and Daniel’s mutual competitiveness and sense of duty to Lebriga and all mankind forces them to hold back their desires. Will their restraint be enough to keep them focused and save southern California, or will the dark forces prevail?

Set in modern-day Los Angeles, Divinity is an action-filled, fast-paced marriage of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Edgy, witty, and sexy, it will bind you in its spell.

There's a trailer too!


You have to grab your copy today:


~*~

Grab your favorite drinks, everyone!

It's GIVEAWAY time!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open until Dec. 25, 2012.

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways!

If you want to share this giveaway on your blog or website, the HTML code can be found here.

For all the up to date dish on the rest of the 24 Days of Guest Posts and Giveaways, please make sure to like the Facebook Page.

Day 19: Susan Kaye Quinn

24DaysofGuestPostsandGiveaways

I just got back from watching the Hobbit. Man, I think I have a massive crush on Thorin. You've got to admit, he's hot. Even my mother agrees. During the movie she leans over to me and whispers, "Long hair on a guy, provided the guy is really handsome, works." *laughs* Who knew? My mother's into hot guys with long hair! Now I know where I get it from.

With that said, let's get down to business and announce today's 24 Days of Guest Posts and Giveaways winner of a copy of Demon Soul.

Let's raise our glasses to: Jennifer S.

Congratulations, girl!

Christine will contact you right away about your prize. *confetti*

Today's post comes from Susan. She explores a situation where she has to explain what Christmas is to someone who's never experienced it before. We're taking the theme on a different road in this post.

Take it away, Susan!

~*~

A Post-Singularity Christmas

“What are you painting?” my sponsor asks, leaning over my shoulder, her skin sparkling in the late afternoon light like it’s infused with pixie dust. She’s enhanced, not magical, I remind myself. Although sometimes I doubt it, with the power she has over me.

“A Christmas tree,” I say. “It’s for my mother.” Although technically, I should only paint for my sponsor when under her roof, I think she’ll allow this. My mother is, after all, dying of a disease that my sponsor’s race refuses to cure.

“Christmas...” She breathes the word out, then pulls in another breath, and I know she’s doing that sensing thing that enhanced people like her do, sucking in the sharp scent of the pigment, tasting it in addition to all the information she’s accessing from her link with Orion, the collective mind. “Traditional Christian Holiday, popular pre-Singularity. This evergreen tree was a symbol of everlasting life, the lights representing the illumination of compassion and salvation that the Christ child brought to the Christian peoples. The ornamentation has many interpretations, the most simplistic being a corollary to a traditional Christ-birth story, related to homage by kings of the time.”

She was just showing off.

“Well, if you knew already,” I say, “you don’t need me to explain it.”

She turns her head toward me, much too close. I keep my eyes on my brush strokes, still filling in the striated greens of the tree. A fir, the kind my mother likes best. The kind she talks about cutting down herself with her grandfather, back before the legacy humans were banned from hiking the forests and restricted to the city.

“What I don’t understand,” she says, “is why you’re painting it.” I swallow. She always wants to know the deeper reasons for my art. It’s why she sponsors me, and I can hardly deny it to her and still have her patronage. Plus, with her this close, her beauty is almost intoxicating enough to make me want to spill it all anyway.

I pull in a breath and lean away from her, pretending to refresh my brush, but really needing some distance in order to speak coherently. “The holiday is more than the tree, or its symbols, or even the religion behind it. It’s a time to come together as a family. For my mother, it connects her to her religion, but also to her past. So it carries more than just the meaning of the holiday. It contains all the love and family memories of holidays past as well.” I’m careful to keep it clear that my mother’s religion is not mine. The enhanced people tolerate all faiths, like they accept and supposedly cherish all the other flaws of legacy humans, but there is something slightly less acceptable about our tendency to believe in a higher being—compared to, say, our tendency to kill each other with knives over stupid things.

She reaches out to touch the painting, which always makes me flinch, but I know it’s part of her enjoyment of it, so I don’t protest. Her movement is so precise that she comes away with a microscopic coating of green pigment on her two fingers without having disturbed the brushwork where she touched the canvas. She holds it to her face, examining it in a way that I know involves more than seeing, as if the depths of the painting can somehow be found in its molecular structure.

“So this is your Christmas gift to your mother, then?” she asks. “A connection to her past, now that her future is short?”

I scrub my brush into palette, blending all the greens into one muddy, useless color. It always surprises me, even though it shouldn’t, when she understands. When she has that flash of insight, like my soul is a looking glass she can peer into and discern without hardly having to try. Of course. She’s enhanced. Smarter, more compassionate, more enlightened, and above all, incredibly, achingly beautiful.

“Yes,” I say, reining in my anger and turning back to her. “It’s a gift for her. And for you.”

She rewards me with a blinding, dazzling smile, and I am so hopelessly, helplessly lost.

~*~

What a creative twist on the post topic, Susan! Seeing Christmas through the eyes of two characters. Christmas is more than just a holiday. I totally agree. Thank you so much for sharing this post with us today, Susan! *hugs*

Since we found out a bit about Susan's characters, it's time to get to know the author behind the characters:

Susan Kaye Quinn grew up in California, where she wrote snippets of stories and passed them to her friends during class. Her teachers pretended not to notice and only confiscated her stories a couple times.

She left writing behind to pursue a bunch of engineering degrees (B.S. Aerospace Engineering, M.S. Mechanical Engineering, Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering) and work everywhere from NASA to NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) to a little Venice Beach restaurant called The Green Bean (she was the bookkeeper). She has designed aircraft engines, studied global warming, and held elected office (as a school board member). Now that she writes novels, her business card says "Rocket Scientist and Author," and she doesn't have to sneak her notes anymore.

Which is too bad.

All that engineering comes in handy when dreaming up dystopian future worlds or mixing science with fantasy to conjure slightly plausible inventions. For her stories, of course. Just ignore that stuff in the basement.

Her middle grade boys clamor for more middle grade books with magic and gadgets and less teen novels with kissing. Unfortunately for them, she enjoys writing both.

Susan writes from the Chicago suburbs with her three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as much as she can handle.

Check out Susan's author website (www.susankayequinn.com) for more information about her books, and subscribe to her newsletter(http://bit.ly/SubscribeToSusansNewsletter) to be notified of upcoming releases.

Here are the other places you can find Susan:

Mindjack website: www.MindjackTrilogy.com
Twitter: @susankayequinn

Find out more about Susan's writing in Open Minds:

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can't read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can't be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf's mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she's dragged deep into a hidden underworld of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

Garb your copy here:
E-Book Buy Links
Amazon Open Minds, Closed Hearts
B&N Open Minds, Closed Hearts
Request an Authorgraph
Other formats/retailers here
Paperback
Open Minds, Closed Hearts
Autographed Mindjack Books

And Closed Hearts, the sequel to Open Minds, is available now, as well as several novellas in the Mindjack series. Free Souls, the third book in the Mindjack Trilogy will release before Christmas 2012. 


Find all of Susan's books at her author website

To be notified by email about future releases, click here.

~*~

Let's rock this GIVEAWAY!

Enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open until Dec. 24, 2012.

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways!

If you want to share this giveaway on your blog or website, the HTML code can be found here.

For all the up to date dish on the rest of the 24 Days of Guest Posts and Giveaways, please make sure to like the Facebook Page.
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