Sharing My Christmas Reads

christmasreading2After surviving a grueling (but gratifying) November where I focused exclusively on my NaNoWriMo project, I needed to destress and start preparing for Christmas. To get into the mood of the season, I decided to look for Christmas novellas that can be easily read in one sitting.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to look too far.

Over the past year, six author friends–two Canadian and four American–have released delightful reads that transported me from the west coast of Canada, across the American Midwest and Southwest, to the eastern seaboard.


biggarnovellaWill a Christmas wish give a lonely author a family?

Mystery writer, Joel Carpenter, has no time for romance. He has a deadline to meet, and too many skeletons in his closet to trust the slightly spinny artist renting his house.

Christy Taylor has her hands full dealing with an ailing business and a diabetic daughter, she doesn’t need the temptation that is her landlord, Joel Carpenter.

Can a Christmas wish bring two stubborn souls together and give a little girl the gift she wants most?

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Maggie Abernathy, best friend Judy, and Judy’s two young sons travel cross country to visit John McIntyre and daughter Chloe at their Montana ranch. Maggie’s convinced herself that she’s only making the trip to fulfill her promise to visit Chloe, but once there she can’t help but fall in love with the horses, the land, the ranch, and the Montana ways of life. With Chloe’s loving antics, Winston’s gift, and a handful of wranglers showing her the ropes, will Maggie have the heart to say goodbye?

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Single mom Abby Jenkins runs a detective agency out of a haunted teahouse in the Pacific Northwest town of Sunset Cove, and while she finds tackling the usual supernatural suspects easy, she can’t face Christmas. She wants this one to be perfect for her kids. With a yuletide to-do list longer than Main Street, a jealous Viking-ghost boyfriend with existential issues, and unreliable witch powers, she’s in a twisted-tinsel, holiday funk, when the mayor asks her to find a missing angel. The statue, which sat on top of the Christmas tree in the town square for the last hundred years, symbolizes all that’s good about the holidays: love, peace and joy. Abby drops everything to look for the stolen angel.

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Fired two weeks before Christmas, distraught single mom Madison wonders how she’ll afford to pay for her young daughter’s Christmas gifts and still keep a roof over their heads. Sleigh bells and twinkling lights are the last thing on her mind—until a handsome stranger intervenes.

Successful architect Adam Donovan dives into his work by renovating an elaborate hotel after his wife leaves him. He barely notices it’s Christmastime until he overhears a young mother’s tearful plea. Stepping in makes Adam feel like Old Saint Nick himself.

Will Madison and Adam find holiday joy—and possibly love—after discovering Adam’s secret or will it tear them apart?

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jaegernovellaWith Christmas just a few weeks away, Gia San Valentino, the baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family, yearns for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her, and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to aren’t exactly the happily-ever-after kind. Tim Santini believes he’s finally found the woman for him, but Gia will take some convincing she’s that girl. A misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something he’s not. Can a kiss stolen under the Christmas lights persuade her to spend the rest of her life with him?

buynow




hallnovellaThis romantic thriller is a steamy way to warm up your winter. Perfect for holiday reading, this Christmas novella will keep you on the edge of your seat.

buynow


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10 Tips about…COOKING! (one of my favorite things in the world!)

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Peggy Jaeger to the Power of 10 series. Today, Peggy shares cooking tips and her latest release, A Shot at Love.

Here’s Peggy!

I love to cook…and I love to eat what I cook. But I don’t only like to eat my cooking. I enjoy dining out, and I especially love when I visit friends and they cook. Sharing a meal is something intimate – whether it’s shared by 2 people, or twenty. I feel we don’t spend as much time together, just relaxing over a home-cooked meal, as we used to. Busy lives, ridiculous schedules, endless social media outlets. All these things pull us away from a fundamental facet of the family: meal time. Sharing thoughts and events about our day, simply talking to one another face-to-face. As we fill and nourish our bodies, we fill and nourish our souls, our relationships, our minds.

And since I lovelovelove to cook (and eat!) I’m sharing 10 thoughts/tips concerning cooking and baking that I abide by.

1. Whenever you can, use fresh herbs. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, make sure you give yourself a little plot of land devoted to cooking herbs. Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Thyme, Cilantro. The list is endless. Dried, container herbs are…okaaaaaaaay, if you have no other choice. But fresh picked is best.

2. Always use fresh produce. I can’t say this enough. Fresh is best. First, last, always. I understand that not everyone can get to the market everyday for the freshest ingredients. I get that! But if you can grow it in your backyard or even in a window box – do!

3. Baking uses formulas; cooking uses recipes, so you can experiment with recipes and should! The difference? You can’t change basic baking formulas. Bread will not rise if you don’t think you need to add the yeast the formula calls for! Just saying. But recipes are flexible. Want to add lobster to that mac and cheese? You can. Think some asparagus tips will taste great thrown into that alfredo? Toss them in. Be flexible here and experiment. It’s fun.

4. Cooks cook; chefs create. Be a chef whenever you can.

5. Involve the kids. What’s that old parable saying? Give a man a fish and he has dinner; teach him to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime? I learned to cook young out of necessity. I was a latch key kid and my parents didn’t get home until after 8 most nights due to traffic concerns. I either learned how to feed myself or I starved until they came home. I learned to feed myself by learning how to cook. And by that I don’t mean I read the instructions on a box. I actually had a cookbook purchased at a library fair for 10 cents and taught myself how to cook from its pages. When my daughter was two years old I started teaching her how to mix, add ingredients, etc. Today she is a fabulous cook.

6. Have tasting parties. Remember tip number 4? I like creating stuff but I’m never sure it’s going to be a hit or a miss. Inviting a few friends over and telling them upfront what you’re serving and why, and you’ll be sure to have a fun evening, even if the creation falls flat. And having said that…

7. Never serve something new that you haven’t sampled first at a dinner party. I did this once. Once was too many times too much! I won’t embarrass myself with telling you what I served but suffice it to say for the next five years after my in-laws always took us out to dinner when they visited. ‘Nuff said.

8. Be willing to fail. And you can see this goes hand in hand with Numbers 6 and 7! Learn from your failures. Why was that bread so doughy and tasted uncooked? Did that chili really need that extra tablespoon of powder? Learn from you mistakes and failures.

9. Savor the old recipes. I have cookbooks that date back to the 1920’s in my collection of over 130 cookbooks. These were found at fairs, library sales, etc. Yes, most of the recipes call for real, heart attack inducing items like REAL Fat milk (not skim) and REAL butter ( not margarine) and REAL mayonnaise ( not low cal salad dressing). But the food from the recipes tastes delicious!! Every now and again it’s okay to make something the old fashioned – or pre-fat-hating way. I can’t imagine biscuits or fried chicken made without Crisco! And I won’t. Ever.

10. Give a family recipe book as a wedding gift. I started doing this about 5 years ago and every bride I’ve given it to has been overjoyed. I purchase a blank recipe book ( usually found in the scrapbook sections of stores like Michael’s Crafts store, AC Moore, or JoAnn’s Crafts) and then I insert several of my time honored and family recipes into it, leaving blank pages for the bride and her family to add their own loved recipes. I’ll even put in a few photos I’ve taken along the way of the way the dish is supposed to look. This is a gift from the heart that will feed and nourish the new family for generations to come.

Blurb

Nothing’s impossible when love is on the menu. In Peggy Jaeger’s luscious series, the only thing more tempting than a delicious meal is a truly delectable romance…

Look for exclusive recipes in each book!

Photographer Gemma Laine is looking for arresting faces on the streets of Manhattan when her camera captures something shocking—a triple murder. In that moment, she becomes a target for the mob—and a top priority for a very determined, breathtakingly handsome, FBI special agent. With deadlines to meet and photo shoots on her calendar, Gemma chafes at the idea of protection, but every moment she spends under his watchful eye is a temptation to lose herself in his muscular arms . . .

With two of his men and one crucial witness dead, Special Agent Kyros Pappandreos can’t afford to be distracted. But Gemma is dazzling—and her connection to Kandy Laine’s high-profile cooking empire makes her an especially easy mark for some very bad people. Keeping her safe is much more pleasure than business, but as the heat between them starts to sizzle, Ky is set to investigate whether they have a shot at love…..

Buy Links

Amazon | Kensington | Nook | Apple | Kobo | Google

Bio

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

Tying into her love of families, her children’s book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.

Peggy holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer’s Disease during her time running an Alzheimer’s in-patient care unit during the 1990s.

In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance.

In 2017 she came in 3rd in the New England Reader’s Choice contest for A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and was a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest for the same title.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

Where to find Peggy…

Website/Blog | Twitter | Amazon | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Instagram


10 All-Time Favorite Books

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Peggy Jaeger to the Power of 10 Series. Today, Peggy will share ten of her all-time favorite books and her new release, Passion’s Palette.

Here’s Peggy!

Joanne – thanks so much for having me on your blog today!

I think it goes hand in hand with being a writer that you are also, first and last, a reader. I read at a very young age and practically grew up in my local library. I was a latch key kid from the age of 8 on, so every day after school I went to the library until 6 pm. The library was so many things to me: refuge, a safe place to hangout, a world of knowledge, a universe of opportunity, my friend. My love of books is something I will carry with me until the day I leave this earth.

I read all the time. Even when I am writing—the time editors will tell you to never read anyone else’s works—I read. And I re-read. A lot. Below are my ten all time favorite books that I have read multiple times each. 9 are fiction, and the last is a writing reference tool that sits on my desk next to my laptop and is dog-earred, filled with notes and post-it’s and used daily when I am writing. I think these books define me in many ways – as a writer and a reader.

#1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I read this when I was 10 and have re-read it once a year since then. I always find something new that I didn’t notice before when I re-read it. By today’s standards, this book could be considered racist. I tend to look at it as a timeless love story between two hard-headed people. Rhett and Scarlett were meant for each other and their love affair just happens to take place during one of the most horrific time periods of our country.

#2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This book is the reason I am a romance book lover. I read it for the first time when I was 11 and even though I had a hard time with the period language, I knew it was a story for anyone who looks for love to triumph over social class, economic differences, and societal quirks.

#3. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. Talk about a great love story. When it first came out it was banned by the Catholic Church, so, since I am a Catholic, of course I had to read it. Strip the religion from this book and you’ve still got a love story for the ages and a book that is so beautifully lyrical the way it is written, it is a joy to read.

#4. New York to Dallas by JD Robb. In truth, I love all the IN DEATH books, but this one is the only one that made me cry, actually weep tears, at the love between Eve Dallas and Roarke. In one of the final scenes, Lt. Eve Dallas has just had a knockdown, drag-out fight with a serial killer. She’s battered, bruised, and a little loopy from the painkillers they’ve given her. She’s speaking to her good friend Dr. Charlotte Mira, with Eve’s husband – the panty-dropping Roarke, in the background.

Eve says: “Want to finish, give my report. Is my face messed up? I hate when that happens. Not like I’m pretty or anything, but—”
“You’re the most beautiful woman ever born,” Roarke said from the doorway, and Eve sent him a woozy, drugged smile.

I just cried writing that!!!

#5. French Silk by Sandra Brown. I would read a book about the alphabet if Sandra Brown wrote it, but FRENCH SILK was one of the few books that ever kept me guessing right up until the last page. That rarely happens for me. A cast of characters that were delicious to read about and a past story/plotline that knocked my socks off. Truly, a fabulous read.

#6. Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. The first romance I read that actually had SEX for all to read about and experience. Woodiwiss opened the bedroom door and thank goodness she did! Still a classic love and romance story to this day. So richly written and described.

#7. Domina by Barbara Wood. There are very few books out there that take the time to not only be historically accurate, but give you a kick ass bunch of heroines in the mix. This book was about female doctors, practitioners, and healers, what they went through and how they were treated throughout history by their male counterparts. It’s a timeless book, as powerful to read now as it was when it was first released.

#8. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. The story of a family going through the worst thing they can – a child’s illness. But it is so much more. Picoult has woven a complex story that deals with not only a parent’s heartache, but the right to choose death on your own terms. She mixes medicine, the law, and family struggles so seamlessly, you don’t even realize the important themes and undertones in the book until that last page.

#9. Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts. Her first book. ‘Nuff said!

#10. The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I read this book every single day I am writing. Heck, I even refer to it when I’m not writing because it is such a valuable tool for understanding human behavior.

For the purposes of full disclosure here, Joanne, I could have easily given you two dozen more books!

Thanks so much for inviting me today to talk to your readers. I hope I’ve offered them some food for thought to try a writer that maybe that haven’t yet.

Blurb

Talented and witty portrait artist Serena MacQuire is successful in everything but love. Her gift for capturing people on canvas is rivalled only by her fiery and legendary temper. A tragedy from the past keeps her heart securely locked away, preventing any man from getting close enough to claim it.

But Seamus Cleary isn’t just any man. After he left his professional football career to become a veterinarian, his bitter wife ended their marriage. Now, as he starts his life over in a new town, love is the last thing he’s looking for. The more he tends to Serena’s horses, though, the more he realizes her own heart needs tender care and healing as well.

Will he be the man who finally unlocks and claims her heart?

Excerpt

Their eyes met and Seamus registered the silent “O” of surprise on her mouth.

“I’m sorry I startled you,” he said, drawn to her as an errant moth would be to a ghost of moonlight. “Addie told me you were out here.”

Serena reached over to her sketchpad, open at her feet, and closed it with a flick of her toe. He was rewarded with a lengthy view of thigh as she stretched.

“Working?”

“Doodling, mostly. I wanted to do some preliminary sketches for a commission I have.”

“Mind if I sit?” he asked, and without waiting for an answer, did.

When he reached for the pad and said, “May I?” she shot her bare foot on top of it.

“Sorry.” Serena reached over and grabbed the book. When it was safely tucked behind her back, braced against the tree, she added, “I’m a little schizoid where my work is concerned. I don’t let people see it when it’s in the planning or beginning stages.”

He looked across at her, lifted one brow slightly, then glanced around. “This is nice,” he said. “Quiet. Peaceful.”

“Private.”

A fist of pure desire punched him in the stomach, the muscles contracting in response to the challenge in her eyes.

“Was there something you needed to see me about?”

He considered her again, before replying. For someone so young she could act as regally as the most aged dowager.

And she was young; much younger than he was. It wouldn’t do to start anything with her. Besides, she was a client. He had to keep it professional.

But dammit, those eyes speared right through him, impaling him with their beauty, and were hard to ignore. As was the gentle swell and shift of her breasts with each breath beneath her barely modest halter top. And her legs, well, just forget about those. Legs like that were destined to be his downfall.

Buy Links:

Amazon | The Wild Rose Press

Bio

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

Tying into her love of families, her children’s book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.

Peggy holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer’s Disease during her time running an Alzheimer’s in-patient care unit during the 1990s.

In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance.

In 2017 she came in 3rd in the New England Reader’s Choice contest for A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and is a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest for the same title.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

Website/Blog: http://peggyjaeger.com


In Search of Christmas Novellas…

christmasreading2Having devoted the month of November to NaNoWriMo, I found myself facing several incomplete and postponed projects that needed immediate attention. I’ve been playing catch-up this month and spending fewer hours reading novels–one of my favorite pastimes.

To get into the mood of the season, I decided to search for Christmas novellas that could be easily read in one sitting.

I didn’t have to look too far.

Four author friends–two Canadian and two American–have released Christmas novellas. I treated myself to four delightful reads that transported me from the west coast of Canada, across the American southwest, to New York.

Enjoy!

biggarnovellaWill a Christmas wish give a lonely author a family?

Mystery writer, Joel Carpenter, has no time for romance. He has a deadline to meet, and too many skeletons in his closet to trust the slightly spinny artist renting his house.

Christy Taylor has her hands full dealing with an ailing business and a diabetic daughter, she doesn’t need the temptation that is her landlord, Joel Carpenter.

Can a Christmas wish bring two stubborn souls together and give a little girl the gift she wants most?

buynow


carsonchristmasnovellaJilted by her fiancé, librarian Maddy Jacobson is nursing a broken heart, when her best friend gives her an early Christmas present. Intended to be a fun, psychic reading in a spooky, tea house, the gift turns out to be life changing. Maddy becomes haunted by a mischievous, Highland ghost.

Ruggedly handsome, Cullen Macfie, the Highlander, has been dead for over three centuries, and never in all those years has he been so attracted to a woman, as he is to Maddy. He falls hopelessly in love and decides to woo her.

Can there be a future for a librarian and a naughty, Highland ghost?

A Highland Ghost for Christmas is a sweet, romantic comedy guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart, make you laugh out loud and leave you craving a man in a kilt … and shortbread, of course.

buynow


jaegernovellaWith Christmas just a few weeks away, Gia San Valentino, the baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family, yearns for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her, and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to aren’t exactly the happily-ever-after kind. Tim Santini believes he’s finally found the woman for him, but Gia will take some convincing she’s that girl. A misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something he’s not. Can a kiss stolen under the Christmas lights persuade her to spend the rest of her life with him?

buynow




hallnovellaThis romantic thriller is a steamy way to warm up your winter. Perfect for holiday reading, this Christmas novella will keep you on the edge of your seat.

buynow


My Yoga Trials

yogaimageI consider protagonist Gilda Greco to be my literary twin. She’s approximately 70 percent of me and shares many of my interests. As non-athletes it took us a while to find a preferred physical activity, but once we discovered yoga, we were hooked.

In my case, it took over three decades of yoga trials.

Continue reading on Peggy Jaeger’s blog.