Find Joy & Balance for Christmas

Today we have a special guest for Christmas Day... my friend and writing critique partner, Kim Hornsby, who is one of the most effervescent, fun, creative, determined and inspiring people I know. She's been an art teacher in elementary schools, a singer who opened for famous muscians, an actress, a dive instructor, and a loyal and true friend to me for several years!

Kim's also a working mom of 2 who's managed to write several books in her "spare time" and begin her own publishing company, Top Ten Press. Her first book was of course her own: The Dream Jumper's Promise, which I promise is a great love story and mystery combined and a surprise ending.

Kim's next book, Necessary Detours, is due out in April via Wild Rose Press. So she's one busy woman!

Please help me welcome someone who's been a Santa in my life as she talks about finding joy AND balance in the season... and check out her special book offer at the end of the post. Take it away, Kim!
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
I do not refer to this time of year as the generic ‘holiday season’ or Festivus or any other name to include everyone in the world. Sorry. It’s Christmas-- my favorite time of the year.
I was raised under the influence of a Presbyterian minister grandfather and as we prepare for Santa's visit and shop for gifts for people we appreciate, many are remembering the birth of someone who influenced the world so greatly that we are still talking about him two thousand years later.
Santa's trip down the chimney is a bonus, tacked onto the age-old celebration, like whipped cream on cocoa. For me Christmas has become the time of year to haul a tree inside the house, string lights and enjoy a jolly atmosphere. To eat cookies, sing carols, wrap presents, hope for snow and decorate the house with garlands and pictures of the kids on Santa's lap from days gone by.
It’s a time to see extended family members, gather friends together for parties and to take a moment to laugh. Christmas is a magical time, based on tradition and rooted by family values. I love the way nasty personalities are transformed by Christmas (read the book Scrooge).
Extend a Hand
Helping others at this time of year is something I highly recommend. It feels just plain good. Like donating a goat to a village in Africa on behalf of Grandma and Grandpa or sponsoring a family who's down on their luck this year but still want their children to get a present. Both benevolent gestures are wildly gratifying. Or just picking out the perfect pair of earrings for a mother who's worked so very hard all year picking up clothes and toys, is another act of kindness (hint).
Don't Forget Your Sanity, Ladies!
As we approach the end of the season that can drive a sane woman to the brink of too much Chardonnay, I implore you women to pace yourselves. Don't burn yourself out, take moments to breathe, don't go overboard on the toys and remember, no one will remember if the napkin rings all matched but they will remember if the hostess was a mental mess at Christmas dinner.
This is a tough time of year for women who manage a household and try to do everything perfectly. Most of us deserve some pampering by the time husbands go back to work, kids go back to school and the house is quiet once again. That’s why so many of us get massages on January 2nd, and that’s why you can’t book a pedicure all that week.
Women, get to your stations, arm yourselves with cookbooks and happy smiles and when it’s all over, curl up by the fire for a stolen moment, grab a good book and escape for awhile in someone else’s life.
On your mark... get set... GO!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Jolly Kwanza, Delightful December Everyone!
‘Tis the Season to give Freebies. And just to make your season a little brighter.... from Christmase (December 25th) to the 27th The Dream Jumper’s Promise will be free on Amazon Kindle.
About The Book
Tina Greene can't accept the surfing death of her husband Hank without a recovered body. Months after signing the death certificate, she pulls herself from the emotional wreckage and trades mourning for saving her Maui dive shop from bankruptcy.
When war hero, Jamey Dunn, walks back into Tina's life, things take a strange turn. Lifelike dreams have the dive instructor questioning her sanity and leaning heavily on Hank's best friend, Noble. Jamey and Noble clash at every turn, both desperate to help Tina. When the dreams uncover clues to Hank's disappearance, Jamey must reveal his strange ability to enter dreams.
But for Tina, trusting the man who betrayed her years before, doesn't come easily, and the decision to let Jamey enter her subconscious has a price she isn't sure she can pay. As Noble, Tina and Jamey get closer to solving the mystery of Hank's disappearance, grave danger sets in to reveal that one person is flirting with insanity, one is a traitor, and one is a murderer.
What Readers are saying about The Dream Jumper’s Promise
“This is a little gem. The story is engaging, the relationship between Tina and Jamey builds nicely, the suspense keeps coming, and there are twists and turns that caught me completely off guard.”
“A very engaging and entertaining beach book--even better, a great winter read for bringing a little Hawaii warmth into colder climes.”
“I will be staying up late again tonight to find out what happens.... great first book by Kim Hornsby!”
“I was hooked by the vivid imagery and relatable characters. The paranormal aspect of the story was delicious icing on the cake.”
About The Author
I'm a mother, a wife, an animal lover and a girl who loves adventure. Writing takes me through the long wet Seattle winters without the help of a shrink and satisfies my need to talk non-stop.
When I'm not furiously typing away at my computer, I can be found outside. I don't like to spend alot of time inside a building (even my own house) so look for me in the garden, at the dog park, on the lake (see photo), at the soccer field, the grocery store or at Hector's with my critique group. Ok, the last two were buildings, but hey a girl has to get groceries and visit her writer friends.
For more information about Kim or her novels and recipes from her books, visit

Welcome to a Birthday Bash!

Happy Birthday, Amber Kallyn, and thanks for making us apart of your giveaway extravaganza and this great chain of authors (see list below). Take it away, Amber...
Welcome to Amber Kallyn’s Birthday Bash. We’ve got some great giveaways for you to win!
I love the holidays, but not necessarily having my birthday fall smack dab in the middle of them, LOL. But this year, I’d like to do something special for my readers. Over 25 authors and bloggers have come together to celebrate my 24th birthday (I won’t mention how many years I’ve turned 24 again ;)
We have some wonderful prizes, and all you have to do is leave a comment at the participating blogs to win. Easy.
And don’t forget, Bloodstorm (Heart of a Vampire, Book 1) is currently free right now for an early present : )
Grand Prize
One commenter will win their choice of a NOOK Simple Touch™ with GlowLight or a Kindle Paperwhite (Up to $140 value)
Ebooks from the following Authors:
Paloma Beck (Coming Home, Contemporary romance)
Jami Grey (Shadow’s Edge and Shadow’s Soul, Urban fantasy)
Zrinka Jelic (Paranormal romance)
Christine Fairchild (An Eye For Danger, romantic suspense)
Marian Lanouette (If I Fail, Mystery)
Sylvia Hubbard (5 Ebooks)
Kenra Daniels (Safe Heart and Kassern, Paranormal romance)
A $40 Gift card to either Amazon or B&N
Plus, there will be giveaways at some of the other blogs : )
How to win
The contest is open from Dec 19th to Saturday the 22nd. Hop to all the blogs. The winner will be chosen from the commenters on all participating blogs. Leave a comment at each blog for additional entries to win. That simple : ) Winner will be drawn on Sunday the 23rd.
Enjoy meeting new authors and book bloggers, and good luck on winning the Birthday Bash Prizes.

Combining Dreams & Research to Write Historical Fiction

Please welcome Anna Brentwood, who is sharing with us her the path toward her dream-inspired 1920's historical novel with lots of gangsters, action and details of a long-lost era. Take it away, Anna....

‘The Songbird with Sapphire Eyes’ came to me in a sequence of three very detailed and realistic dreams, so in a sense, I didn’t choose the story or the time period rather the story and the time period chose me. 
Because those dreams were so vivid, detailed and haunting, I was inclined to think they were some kind of past life memory. At first, I was more interested in finding out if there were any verifiable facts I could discover to prove that this might be true. It wasn’t until much later (think ten years later) that I got the opportunity to indulge my inner writer and had a chance to dedicate myself to writing and researching Hannah’s story, eventually making it into a novel.   

When I did begin, I felt more like a psychic detective, often able to verify information I’d imagined as “fact”. I often deduced the rest through imagination, interview, meditation and research.

To understand the 1920’s and its impact, one has to realize what the world was like prior to those years. People were coming out of the Victorian era; America was still becoming the melting pot it had been founded to be with hoards of immigrants landing daily on its shores. There were staunch societal and moral restrictions and rampant social inequities and for most people, life was brutally hard, short and contained very few pleasures.

While most of us imagine the 1920’s as fun-filled, exciting and happy, the reality for most people living then was anything but. People were either very rich or very poor. There was no middle class and people had to actually work for a living. Prejudice and discrimination were rampant and there was no such thing as human or civil rights. If one was lucky enough to even have a job, think long hours, unhealthy work situations, low pay and every kind of harassment possible. Children were often sent away because their families could not feed them or orphaned and had to go out into the world on their own. Folks were pretty much at the mercy of their employers and there were no unions, no social, state or federal service programs. If you didn’t work, you or your family could actually starve to death and did. If you didn’t pay your bills there was servitude or the poorhouse.

There was no air-conditioning and no such thing as a thermostat. Cars were just becoming available and horses were the most common form of transportation. Streets were often dirt, rough and hard to navigate and cities were filled with garbage and refuse and waste from the horses. The smells were disgusting and flies were everywhere.

Large cities had hundreds, if not thousands, of smokestacks. Clouds of pollutants –- sulfur, ammonia, and coal dust – settled on laundry, lungs, and gardens. Tanneries with their slaughter houses, bone boiling, and manure added their own unique flavor to the air around them. Pollution was accepted as the necessary price of progress and early street sweepers who were hired to keep the streets clean were not just picking up gum wrappers. In twelve months a city with 15,000 horses produces enough manure to cover an acre of ground to the depth of 175 feet.

Wives belonged to their husbands and were for cooking, cleaning and having babies. A man had the right to “discipline” and beat his wife. Divorce was a disgrace. Cocaine, heroin and opium were common household and medicinal remedies and alcohol was prescribed for everything from nervous disorders to disease. No one knew that smoking caused lung cancer and almost everyone smoked. Taverns were mostly frequented by men and some had drains in the floor so a man could just stand and urinate from his spot at the bar. There was no television, cell phones or computers. If people wanted to keep in touch they had to write letters. Hobos were common and begging was an actual profession and after a hard day in the factory or on the farm, most people didn’t have electricity, indoor plumbing, running water or electric lighting.

Most jobs were for men. Women without benefit of the protection of family or a husband who had to go out into the world alone were at the mercy of anyone and anything. There was no such thing as women’s rights. A woman alone had to rely on her wits or her body and it wasn’t hard to go from being a good girl to a bad one.

In Hannah’s world, when the twenties roared, people were more than ready for a good time even if they only lived it vicariously through others or the moving picture shows.

In the 1920’s, morality was being redefined daily and society began changing. It has never stopped since.

Women discarded their corsets in the twenties, hemlines got shorter and just a glimpse of a woman’s limb or a whispered indecency could enslave a man, and did. Men wore hats, took them off indoors and tipped them when they opened doors for the ladies or just wanted to flirt. There was no need to lock doors, children respected their parents and obeyed and heaven was the reward for hard work. In most cases, people were kinder, more considerate, watched out for their neighbors and honored their word. Yet, when one didn’t want to play by society’s rules, crime could pay and the sky was the limit. Fortunes were made or lost in a night and criminals often mingled with kings.
I could go on and on but the more I understood the history, I could not help but adore the 1920’s and admire Hannah and her friends even more.
Their world was so different from ours, the choices for women so limiting, yet Hannah not only survived, she thrived. And even when her world had long ended, her spirit bellowed on for me to let everyone know what she’d learned. And that is, that every life lived, whether well, foolishly or barely has a purpose and no matter the risks, it is better to live life true to yourself, than to just exist to be safe or comfortable.
Anna (which is her real first name) was a bookworm almost since birth and was recognized as a writing PRO by Romance Writers of America in 2002. An active professional member of Willamette Writers, RWA, the Rose City Romance Writers and NIWA, Anna grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from Philadelphia’s, University of the Arts where she majored in Illustration.
Anna's debut novel, ‘The Songbird with the Sapphire Eyes’ first began as a series of dreams that so haunted her they became a personal quest to explore possible past life memories. The journey was both eerie and exciting and the manuscript finaled and won second place in the Women’s Fiction category of the 2006 Tara Awards.

Anna is inspired to write about interesting characters whose lives take them on journeys we can all enjoy and perhaps learn something meaningful from. She is busy working on a
sequel to 'The Songbird With Sapphire Eyes' which will take readers on a journey through the 1940's with Johnny and Hannah's son, wartime hero, playboy and New York mobster, Anthony Gallo.

A wife, mother and doting new grandmother of two, Anna lives in a log home on 45 wooded acres on Oregon’s coast range with her former Navy-Seal husband and a menagerie of animals that include one pug, one cat, one horse, two wolf-hybrids, a red-tailed hawk named Lucky and a feisty but lovable African grey parrot named Warlock

You may contact Anna at or through her website at



 In 1918, Kansas City is Sin City.      

Forced to leave home at age fourteen, beautiful Hannah Glidden struggles to survive, but with help from her childhood friend, Meg, mistress to a wealthy married man and her roommate, the irrepressible, flapper extraordinaire, Rosie, she thrives as a cabaret singer.

The early 20’s roared. Fortunes were made or lost in a single night, and criminals mingled with kings. Neither the government nor Prohibition could stop the flow of alcohol or the lure of the “good life.” Handsome rum runner Johnny Gallo is part of New York's large, growing criminal empire where the sky is the limit. The ruthless Gallo has a knack for knowing the right people, and a single-minded devotion to getting what he wants. And, he wants Hannah.

Hannah goes with Johnny to Al Capone’s Chicago and eventually to Brooklyn, New York where she basks in the glamorous shadow world of gangsters and their gals. Johnny becomes a force to be reckoned with, but in time the free-spirited Hannah clashes with her controlling lover.

She faces the dark side of her dreams but dares to defy Johnny despite the dangers and unwittingly discovers that for her, dying just might be the only true path to freedom after all.