The holidays: all pumped up

Foremost, to all of you who’ve called “time out” from the holiday bustle to email me nice notes on my December holiday book, Strokes of Midnight, thank you! Your kind words mean more to me than any critical praise. For those of you who missed my previous Christmas book for Harlequin Blaze, It’s A Wonderfully Sexy Life. “Don’t worry, be happy.” 😉 It may be long gone from brick-and-mortar bookstores, but you can still order the book online, including trusty ole

Fortunately Strokes of Midnight is a two-day read, leaving oodles of time for tackling all those other great books waiting to be read. (Christmas started out as Twelve Days, remember). My personal pick is Claire Cook’s Life’s A Beach. Claire is the talented author of Must Love Dogs as well as several other books celebrating not only romance but the quirky beauty of all our relationships. Life’s A Beach is chockful of romance, to be sure, but there’s also plenty of sister love-hate to go ’round as well as pets–you gotta love a heroine who names her cat “Boyfriend.”

You can read my “review” of Life’s A Beach at a wonderful new site/ezine:

P.S. Don’t forget…My special holiday co-contest with fabulous fellow Harlequin Blaze author, Cathy Yardley draws to a close this Monday, December 17th, so please check back for the announcement of winners. In the spirit of celebrating the charms of giving *and* receiving, each winner will receive two extra sets of books to give as gifts.

PPS. I can’t believe I left this out of my NYC posts. Check out the above photo of Strokes of Midnight (center), my New York-over-the-holidays book taken, yes, in New York over the holidays!

The Best Gift Ever

For many of us, the winter holiday season brings about an almost instant association with jam packed shopping malls, long, long checkout lines, and ballooning January credit card debt. Years ago when I was a college student, I worked a retail job at a Benetton clothing store in Towson, MD. Even after I left the local area to go off to graduate school, I would come home for the holidays and spend the break working in the store. In fact, for five consecutive years (count ’em–five) I worked the double shift from opening until closing on the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday for good reason. Very good reason.

Spending the Christmas season in the retail trenches gave me a host of great war stories, several of which stick with me today, twenty years later. Like the frantic dad who brought his small daughter shopping for a present for his wife on Christmas Eve an hour before the mall was due to close. With the clock ticking, we were picking through the leavings of folded Italian sweaters when I suggested he might expedite the search by giving me some description of the target–I mean gift recipient. (Forget knowing such vitals as say, her actual size). When he only stared at me, I could see I was going to have take the lead.

“What color is her hair?” I asked in that patient but firm voice usually reserved for small children. Professionalism aside, I’d been on my feet for coming on ten solid hours sans break and young though I was, my high heel shod feet were beginning to swell.

After a moment’s hesitation, he looked me up and down and declared it was sort of like my shoulder-length chestnut brown locks. Okay, now we were getting somewhere! Then I asked, “What color are her eyes?” As it happened, I had a bunch of blue hued sweaters left in my badly dwindled inventory, and I was hoping I might have a match.

There was another pause, a l-o-n-g pause and then he looked down at his little daughter, his own dark eyes bulging, and asked, “What… what color are mommy’s eyes?”

“They’re BLUE, Daddy!” the child fairly shouted and then looked up at me with her own china blue eyes, presumably inherited from her mom. That look, I’ll never forget it. It fell somewhere between disappointment and downright disgust. I looked back at her and though I was a twenty-something and she was probably only around eight, we shared a moment of silent commiseration over the vageries of men.

But my winter retail gig didn’t end with December 25th, oh no. There followed a day even more dreaded by retail clerks everywhere than Black Friday. December 26th, otherwise known as The Day After Christmas. If the shopping days leading up to Christmas are about fantasy and infinite possibility, the days after the holiday are all about reality (and that would be cold, hard reality) and the limitations of material things to fill us up. The size 12 lady returning the size 2 sweater. The size 2 lady returning the size 12 sweater and both shocked and more than a littled miffed that the gift givers, in both cases the husband, seemed to know them so little, at least when it came to personal style.

Like Maggie in It’s A Wonderfully Sexy Life, I’m finding more and more that what I really want for Christmas or any other holiday doesn’t come inside a store box, no matter how exquisite the wrapping.

What was the best holiday gift you ever received? What was the worst? Or, if you’re so inclined to share, what is the gift for which you secretly or not so secretly yearn, the one you’ve never gotten, at least not yet?

Whatever holiday you celebrate during the winter months, I hope it’s joyous and filled with myriad reminders of the true magic of the season…



Welcome to the launch of my new and first-ever blog. It’s been a year of “firsts” for me personally and professionally. Per the latter, It’s A Wonderfully Sexy Life is my a) first ever contemporary, b) first ever Harlequin, c) first ever paranormal and d) first ever Christmas book.

And I’ve just finished my second paranormal for Harlequin’s Extreme Blaze line. The Haunting will hit bookstores, both brick-and-mortar as well as online, this April 2007. The book begins with my heroine, Dr. Maggie Holliday, discovering a 150-year-old diary buried behind some loose wallboard in the attic of her newly purchased historic home in the Fredericksburg, VA historic district where I’ve made my home coming on six years now.

Having just moved from an historic home that (amazingly!) resembles my heroine’s Victorian dream house, I’ve been struck by all the miscellaneous “stuff” you discover when you’re ramping up to pack. I’d always seen myself as a neat nick but the whole house purge in preparation for packing indicated otherwise. In The Haunting, Maggie finds the diary, which happens to have been penned by her previous Civil War era incarnation, Isabel Earnshaw.

What hidden treasures (or terrors) have you found when ramping up for a move? Maggie’s move from the Washington, DC area to Fredericksburg, VA went considerably more smoothly than mine did. What was your worst ever absolute nightmare move? Or, on the perkier side, what the best move you ever made and why?

Whether we get there by the short, smooth easy road or the long, prickly bramble-riddled one, it’s my personal belief that we’re all always exactly where we’re meant to be.

Here’s wishing you a safe, joyous kick-off to the winter holidays…