Christmas Tree Extravaganza!


My publisher, Pelican Book Group, has a Christmas Extravaganza where she publishes new Christmas-themed novellas and puts all the previous titles as well as the new ones on sale for 99 cents! To check it out CLICK HERE.

So anyway I’m having a Christmas Tree Extravaganza!

Every year as Christmas approaches, we clear off our enclosed porch and up comes the trees from the basement. This year, according to my husband, we have 17 trees up. One lonely tree stayed in the basement.  Twelve are on the porch and 5 are in the house. No, they aren’t all full-sized trees. We have large ones, medium ones, and small ones. It’s a bit of work, but the results are so much fun, I don’t really complain about it.

Anyway, here’s my 2017  Christmas Tree Extravaganza! My photography’s not the best but at least you can get an idea of what it looks like.









Feeling Overwhelmed?


I love Christmas but I also know that the Christmas season can be overwhelming. Too many things to do. Too many places to go. And too many good things to eat.  At the moment, Christmas is quickly approaching and that means COOKIES! I love all things sweet but Christmas Cookies are a weakness of mine. And my husband makes wonderful cookies so….

I’m so close to my weight goal–only a few more pounds to go. And it seems as if I’m surrounded by Christmas Cookies everywhere I go–except my WW meeting. I’ve been taking the all or nothing approach when it comes to Christmas Cookies this year, meaning nothing. An all or nothing approach isn’t really helpful in most areas of our life and that’s very true when it comes to weight loss. And I know that most of the time.

But this year is different. The last thing I want to do is sabotage myself but it’s a bit overwhelming to think about NO COOKIES during the holiday season. That made me think about other times when I was overwhelmed.

One of those was when I worked as a speech pathologist for schools. Any job in the education field is a bit overwhelming but being a speech pathologist is certainly one of those because there’s two parts to our job, first is to provide therapy for the students. But the other part of the job is to evaluate students who might need therapy as well as to provide ongoing evaluations to my current students while still providing service for my current students. Each year the evaluation process became more complicated and time-consuming, thus more and more overwhelming.

One of the things I learned to do was not to focus on all the evaluations that needed to be done during the year and making myself even more overwhelmed. Instead each month I would make a list of the students who needed evaluated that month–which made the process more than manageable. All the evaluations would get done on time!

That’s when it came to me. I’ve been worrying about how to get through the whole Christmas season without Christmas Cookies. But I don’t have to worry about saying no to cookies for the next 2-3 weeks, I only have to say no at the next event. It’s about keeping the focus on the present and not worrying about the future. That’s manageable–I can do that.

About now, you might be saying, “so what.” Hold on, I’m getting there.

It’s good to plan and have long-range goals but that’s not always true for every situation. Sometimes, it’s better to take the one day at a time approach. Losing weight is a good example, but I can think of others as well. Cleaning house is one. I don’t like cleaning but if I focus on only cleaning a few things each day, it makes it manageable. And what about writing a book?

When I start to write a new book, I look at the completely blank screen and it’s overwhelming. So I block that out and write the first word, then the first sentence, the first page, and before I know it I have the first chapter finished.

The holiday season can be overwhelming and before we know it, we’ve lost our Christmas spirit and that’s no fun at all. So I suggest you make a list, check it twice, and then do the next thing that needs done. Focus on one thing at a time and enjoy the season!


Christmas Extravaganza is here!

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Every year my publisher has a Christmas Extravaganza! It’s old and new Christmas-themed novellas in every genre you’d want to read–romance; suspense; cozy mysteries; and even women’s fiction. And most, if not all the titles, are only 99 cents! I can’t give a list of all the books but if you go to Amazon and type in Christmas Extravaganza, the titles will come up for you.

I’ll be posting the pictures of my own Christmas Tree Extravaganza soon. In the meantime, I thought I’d talk about my Christmas-themed books. I’ve discovered I like writing stories  with a Christmas setting but still have mystery and suspense. The Christmas Stalking was my first novella that included a Christmas theme, then came The Christmas Angel Thief and No Home for the Holidays.  At the moment, I’m working on two more Christmas stories for next Christmas!


Anyway…I thought I’d share the prologue to The Christmas Stalking with everyone. My publisher cut this part out of the story because she likes the Christmas Extravaganza novellas to be on the short side of a novella.


The Christmas Stalking–Prologue


Her hand froze mid-air as she reached for the door knob. Her pulse ramped up. Destiny Martin had always considered herself brave, but she’d discovered that wasn’t quite as true as she’d always believed.

The knock came again.

“Destiny, I can’t get in. Type in the security code so you can open the door.”

Recognizing the voice, she let out a breath. She giggled at the thought of locking her manager out of his own apartment.

Careful to stay out of sight in case anyone was watching, she opened the door. Mark walked in, his hands full of mail, packages, and grocery bags. She slammed the door shut, hoping no one had seen her in that brief second.

“How’re you feeling, sweetikins?” One of the bags fell from Mark’s grasp.

Bending down, she retrieved it. “Sad and lonely. Just like my songs.”

“Why? I’m here and you’ve got tons of friends. Not to mention the millions—no billions of fans.”

She gave him a look—the same one her teachers used when she’d told them she would be a famous country music star someday. “Billions? I don’t think so, Mark. Let’s not get carried away.”

Mark shrugged. “Okay. Millions.”

“They love Destiny not me.” She sighed. “They have no idea who I am. I’m not even sure I know who I am anymore. Holly Stone doesn’t even exist as far as the world is concerned.”

Mark winked. “She does and I like her just fine. You’ve got the holiday blues.”

She plopped on his sofa. “Is it any wonder? I’m stuck here and can’t even go outside. Not that it matters, it still wouldn’t feel like Christmas.” Nashville might be all decked out in Christmas cheer but it just wasn’t cold enough. Christmas just wasn’t Christmas without some snow.

“If you don’t like it here, pick another place.” Mark’s voice was quiet.

She’d hurt his feelings. She grinned. “I didn’t mean it like that, sweetikins. Of course, I love being here with you. You’re so kind to let me stay here.” Now that her own home wasn’t so safe.

“Holidays can be tough.”

She set the bag on the coffee table. Not for him. He didn’t spend every Christmas alone, pretending to be busy. He went home to his huge family at Christmas. He’d invited her to go this year but that wasn’t happening.“How am I supposed to live my life if I’m hiding in your condo? Like I’m the one who did something wrong. Why can’t they find this guy?”

“Give them time.”

She turned toward him, hands on her hips. Her voice broke. “I’m so tired of all of this… of imposing on you… of not being in my home. But most of all, I’m tired of being afraid.”

“I know it’s scary, but you’re safe here.  I can find you a nicer place if you want. I know this isn’t the luxury you’re used to.”

Mark wasn’t getting it. “Don’t be ridiculous, your condo is wonderful. More amenities and gadgets than any one person would ever need. But I’m not used to being cooped up all the time.”

“It won’t be much longer, sweetikins. I promise.”

“You’re right. I have no intention of missing the concert. I’ve never missed one in my life, and I’m not about to start. Mr. Psycho Stalker or not. Especially since this is for charity.”

“It’s not—”

She held up a hand. “It’s not open for debate. I’m doing that concert and that’s final. My life. My choice.”

“I know but—”

“I’m done with this discussion.”  Turning up her southern accent, she smiled. “Whatdjabringme, sweetikins?” She grabbed at the bags in his hands.

He laughed as he handed one to her. “A few things. I stopped by your house for your mail, and then went to the store for your favorite snacks.”

“Oooh, sounds good. I hope you stopped at that deli with the great shrimp dip.”

“You know I did. You can check out the mail while I put the food away.”

“I love how you spoil me. Besides the food in your fridge is disgusting.”

“That hurts. It really does. I share my home with you. And all you do is hurt me. Not very nice.” He shook his head with feigned sadness.

“Whatever. Let me see my mail.”

He pointed at the plastic grocery bag filled with mail on the coffee table and continued to the kitchen with the grocery bags. “Oh, and that package is for you, too.”

Ignoring the mail, she picked up the box. “Probably a Christmas present from one of my billions of adoring fans.” She sat down and picked it up. “Is it safe?”

“Security said it was fine. No bomb.”

She shook her head. “Can you believe you even said those words? The guy’s an overzealous fan, he’s not going to hurt me.”

He poked his head out from the kitchen. “Tell that to John Lennon, sweetikins.”

Her stomach somersaulted. “I’m done with Mr. Psycho Stalker controlling my life. I’ve been thinking.”

Mark walked out of the kitchen. “I do not like the sound of that. Whenever you say that, it always means more work for me.”

She picked at the tape on the brown wrapped package. “Not this time.”

“What’s your idea?”

“After the concert, Destiny is going to disappear. About time I take a vacation. It’s been a long time since I had one. And you can take one, too.”

Instead of a smile, worry lines appeared on Mark’s forehead. “Where are you going?”

She shook her head. “I’m not even saying the destination out loud. That way no one can follow me.”

Mark stared at her. “That’s not a good idea. I need to know where you are.”


“Because I always know where you are. It’s my job and besides I’ll miss you.”

Uh-oh, she didn’t like the sounds of that. Mark was her manager and friend—nothing more. They’d been spending too much time together. Definitely time for a change.

She smiled. “Yeah, right. You must be so tired of me cramping your style and besides, you deserve a vacation, too. You work—”

Mark’s eyes darkened, his voice firm. “I don’t want a vacation. I want to keep you safe. And I can’t do that if I don’t know where you are.”

“It’s a great idea and you know it. You’re just grumpy you didn’t think of it first.”

Mark walked out of the kitchen. “Don’t you trust me?”

“Of course I do, but I’m still not telling you.” She tore open the wrapping on the box in her lap. It revealed a gift box with boughs of dark green holly and bright red berries. “Do you think someone remembered my real name is Holly?”

She lifted up the box lid. Screaming, she jumped up.

A dead cat rolled out.


If you want to know what happens after the dead cat, you’ll have to buy the book–but it’s only 99 cents!




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I want to thank everyone who entered the contest for the Amazon Gift Card and the other goodies. So here’s the winners…


$25 Amazon Gift Card and choice of one my books plus Devotions from Puzzle House.–Congratulations Tammy Doherty!

These 5 lucky winners win their choice of one of my books as well as Devotions from Puzzle House:

Linda Moffit


Beth Nagy

Joan Arming


These 5 lucky winners receive a copy of Devotions from Puzzle House



Danielle H.

DK Stevens



So…I have a bit of surprise for all my winners! Devotions from Puzzle House has been free on Amazon these past few days so you might have already “bought” it. It doesn’t seem like much of a prize since it was free but…my publisher put one of my books, GAME ON, on sale these past few days and it’s still on sale for 99 cents! Not only that but it’s the #1 Christian suspense/mystery on Amazon at the moment. So instead of giving you Devotions from Puzzle House, I’m going to give all 11 winners a Kindle copy of Game On. If you still want an ecopy of Devotions from Puzzle House, I’ll be glad to send you that as well.


For those who won a book from me, the gift of Game On doesn’t affect your other choice so use the contact form to let me know what other book you’d like. You can choose any book except the Sisters by Choice trilogy even Puzzle House. Thanks everyone for entering! If you didn’t win, you can still purchase Game On right now for 99 cents!





My Home–A Poem by Lillian Duncan

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My home—I love it.

Not because it’s perfect because I know it’s not. It has flaws and there’s much that needs to be fixed. That’s just the way it is with an older home—or most any home.

My home—I love it.

In spite of the flaws, most days it’s filled with smiles, kindness, and laughter. I feel safe and loved in my home—even if it’s not perfect. 

My home—I love it.

In spite of the flaws, it’s filled with history, tradition and culture. Some good and some bad—still I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. 

My home—I love it.

In spite of the flaws, it’s filled with opportunities and freedom. Freedom that many have given their lives to protect—a freedom that I cherish.

My home may not be perfect but I love it anyway.

God bless America!

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?



My Friday Friend is Michelle Griep. She’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at or stalk her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest

For information on the book giveaway read to the bottom of the post!

She’s here to ask and answer the question:

 How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

I’m frequently asked how long it takes me to write a book. That depends, of course, on how long the book is, but for an average 90-95k novel, I can do it in about 9 months. That includes my excessive editing and some research, assuming I have a basic knowledge of the era. If I don’t it takes longer. My newest release, however, is a gift book, meaning that it’s half the size of a regular novel, coming in at right around 45k words. That took me only 4 months to write.

So, now that you’ve got my numbers, how does that match up with other writers? Here are a some famous authors and their even more famous titles, along with the time it took them to write it.

GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell—–10 years

LES MISERABLES by Victor Hugo—-12 years

LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien—-16 years

A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens—-6 weeks

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte—-9 months

TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyere—3 months

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald—-2 1/2 years


So, as you can see, there is no standard time for writing a novel. Nor is there a standard time for reading said novels. This is the perfect time of year to grab a hot drink and a blankie, then cozy up on a couch for a nice read . . .and have I got a read for you!

12 Days at Bleakly Manor

A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger…and love? England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane. Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love. Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series–a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale–by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.


Thanks, Michelle. I loved seeing the stats on those books. I’m in awe that it only took 6 weeks to write A Christmas Carol! What about you, readers? Which one did you find surprising? Michelle has so kindly offered to give a copy of 12 Days at Bleakly Manor to one reader–print or ebook–the winner’s choice. Thanks so much, Michelle.

If you want to be entered to win the book, leave a comment and you’re entered. Contest will end on September 22!

God Bless & Good Reading!





One month from today my latest book will be released–October 6.  PUZZLE HOUSE  is near and dear to my heart but is different from my usual fast-paced suspense and mystery novels. However, that makes sense. I’ve been living a different sort of life for more than five years. My life was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with brain tumors and a genetic condition known as Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2) in 2012.


That’s what Rachel Summers, the main character of PUZZLE HOUSE says when she’s diagnosed with it!

So what exactly is Neurofibromatosis Type 2? I’m glad you asked!

It’s a rare genetic condition that allows tumors to grow anywhere on the nervous system, but especially in the brain (almost always on the auditory nerve and vestibular nerve) and the spine. The Rare Disease Act of 2002 defines a rare disease as one that affects 1 in 1,500 people. So exactly how rare is NF2? About 1 in 25,000 to 40,000 people have it so as you can see it’s extremely rare which is why you probably haven’t heard of it either.

The tumors are almost always benign, but there’s two meanings for benign. One being non-cancerous and the other being harmless. The good news is that my tumors are not cancerous, the bad news is they are definitely not harmless. You might think Puzzle House is a really depressing story, right? I certainly hope not. My first goal when writing a story is always to entertain and that’s true with this one as well. In fact, the subtitle of the story is a novel of healing and hope.

I’m not going to give away the plot but I’ll give you a little hint. While unconscious after an auto-truck mishap, Rachel has a very special visitor who asks, “Do you want to be healed or to be a healer?” She makes her choice and that’s when her adventure begins.

I’ll be having more posts and information about PUZZLE HOUSE in the coming weeks but for now, I’d like you to know that it’s available to preorder on Amazon at the following link– PUZZLE HOUSE  I hope you’ll take a moment to look at it and preorder it.