Posted in Thoughts, writing inspiration

Holiday Movies, Stories and Baking…

My Favorite Holiday Things (part 2)

Holiday movies and stories, and seasonal baking competitions, these are a few more of my favorite things.

When I put away the Thanksgiving leftovers and start pulling out the Christmas decorations, I get in the spirit of the season by watching holiday movies, reading, or listening to Christmas stories, or turning on Christmas music. Over the years my favorites have changed but there are a few that will always put me in a holiday mood and they’re probably not everyone’s idea of a classic. 1) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2) While You Were Sleeping 3) Last Holiday 4) How The Grinch Stole Christmas 5) Santa Clause 6) Frosty, The Snowman 7) The Little Drummer Boy 8) Holiday Inn 9) Stage Door Canteen 10) Jingle All The Way 11) Miracle on 34th Street 12) The Christmas Carol 13) Hallmark Movies Collectively

This year I might have to add The Noel Diary, it had all the feels and was a little more than the traditional holiday movie.

I love Christmas and Hannukah stories. I prefer romantic comedies to lift my flagging holiday spirits, but occasionally I’ll choose a story with deeper emotions, action or maybe even a mystery. Over the years I have downloaded several holiday audiobooks, ebooks and even bought a few in print. Anthologies are another of my favorites during the holidays. Who has time to read a full-size novel when you have to buy Christmas gifts, write and send cards, bake, go to parties, decorate, and whatever else the holidays bring. 1) Christmas Revels Anthologies (regency) by Kate Parker, Hannah Meredith & friends 2) ‘Twas the Night After Christmas (regency) by Sabrina Jeffries 3) Kissing Under the Mistletoe (historical) by Suzanne Enoch, Amelia Grey and Anna Bennett,

This year I added a few new favorites. 1) Christmas at Copper Mountain by Jane Porter, be prepared to cry, 2) A Very Merry Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams, a fun story with the Bromance series characters, 3) It Happened One Winter by Christi Caldwell, not exactly a Christmas story but close enough and filled with romance, winter, kids, and hope, 4) Mansplainer by Avery Flynn, Book 3 finishes at Christmas but the whole series is leading up to Christmas and the last gift their grandmother left, 5) Highland Games by Evie Alexander, a funny twist on a Highland romance.

I love baking competitions but especially the holiday ones where everything is decorated with the spirit of the season. I also love to watch the holiday cookie challenge and the gingerbread competitions. The holidays are about warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. I love to bake cookies during the holidays. My favorite cookies are oatmeal raisin (or cranberry), ginger snaps, and cinnamon Snickerdoodle cookies. What are your favorite cookies? Do you like to bake or just eat?

Posted in my books, promo

Christmas in July

How many of us love to watch holiday movies in the heat of the summer? Do you love the Hallmark Christmas in July movie month? How about reading holiday stories during the sweltering hot summer days? Does it help cool you off when you read about snow, Santa, and holiday cheer? If you love Christmas any time of year or if you’re just looking for a little relief from the heat, check out these holiday books in the Christmas in July Extravaganza Bookfunnel Promo.

After a YouTube Video ruined her career and turned her into a joke, the last thing Maddie Henries needed was a man. Especially if that man’s last name was Harrell, but Cole believed in her when no one else did. Can Maddie overcome her fears to learn to trust again? Thrown together to save her aunt’s century-old inn, Maddie and Cole find themselves working together to save Christmas for the people at Teach’s Island.

The Harrell Family Chronicles, #3.5 Can be read alone. It is part of the Harrell family world but not reliant on previous books.

FICTION / Romance / Contemporary
FICTION / Romance / Holiday
FICTION / Small Town & Rural
FICTION / Holidays
FICTION / Romance / Workplace

Posted in inspiration, my books, Thoughts

Christmas Favorites Part 2

Favorite Holiday Song

Okay, now we’re really getting into difficult territory because I love Christmas music both old and new stuff. I don’t know what it is about Christmas music, but it always touches my heart. I’ve even been known to sing it when it’s not even Christmas.

I have to break this down into categories because I truly love Christmas music

  1. Religious:

Oh Holy Night, I love to sing this song though sometimes I cannot get it just right. It was one played at church and is still one of my favorite songs. When a good soprano sings it, it can give me chills.

Go Tell it On the Mountain, another song I love to sing. I have great memories of doing this in church with the kids walking up the aisles of the church getting louder and faster as we neared the altar. It’s a joyous song to sing. I miss doing the Christmas programs. I started performing in the Christmas pageants when I was a little girl even before we moved to North Carolina, but afterwards I didn’t miss a one. As a young teenager I began writing or altering plays to fit our small church and later as an adult I wrote or assisted in the writing of the plays.

Mary Did You Know, when my oldest son and my niece sang this as a duet one Christmas it became my favorite. I wasn’t familiar with this song until I heard it at one of their band concerts, but it could not compare to this duet. His bass and her soprano were a beautiful blend. It’s a memory that plays on repeat in my heart.

What Child is This? I love to sing this song or hear it sung. I’d not heard it until I was a teenager, but it became one of my favorites.

Sweet Little Jesus Boy I remembered this one after I started this blog, I love to sing this song. I learned it for a program, it’s best done acapella.

Silent Night this is so pretty sung outside on a winter’s night under the stars with only a guitar accompanying. I loved going Christmas caroling and this was probably my favorite song to sing.

We Three Kings in a small church with very few boys or men to play all of the parts, one year I was a King. As a contraltro, I can sing in the lower register and sang with the guys on this song. My dad and I would often sing it together while my mom sang the higher parts.

Away in a Manger when my babies were little, I’d sing this as a lullaby not just at Christmas. This is one of the purest and sweetest songs. I can imagine Mary singing to Jesus and wondering what the future held.

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem we sang this often in church as a congregational song but I love to hear it sung with harmonies.

Beautiful Star of Bethlehem this is beautiful when done in the old bluegrass style. I love to hear my friend sing it with his bluegrass band, but I also enjoy singing it.

Oh Come Emmanuel the first time I remember singing this song, I was part of a choir in Goldsboro’s Adamsville Baptist Church. We did a human Christmas tree and I had to climb up several stories and stand on a small platform. At least I didn’t have time for stage fright being I was so scared of heights!

2. Broadway/Hollywood:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen the first time I remember hearing this song a friend of mine was in a production of A Christmas Carol at the community theater. I wished I’d been able to be involved in theater, but we lived so far from the city.

All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey is younger than my youngest son but has already become a classic. It’s one of the most played Christmas songs on the radio and I think old and young, rockers and country lovers enjoy it. I know it’s one of my favorites and it lends itself well to the holiday romance genre.

Hard Candy Christmas I was surprised to learn it wasn’t written by Dolly Pardon but instead by Carol Hall. It’s from the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Dolly played Miss Mona in the film version. My dad saw the movie before I did and embarrassed himself telling me about it. I’ll never forget his discomfort when he suddenly remembered I wasn’t his friend but his daughter.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas from Meet Me in Saint Louis, I loved it as a movie with Judy Garland I’ve never had the opportunity to see the play. I’m an old movie nut. My son and I love the history channel and the classic movie channel.  

We Need a Little Christmas the first time I remember hearing this was on The Facts of Life, I guess that dates me. I loved that show, and their holiday specials were always full of heart and music.

Baby It’s Cold Outside this song has been done and spoofed so many times it’s become a tradition in itself. I love to hear it and gladly listen to any of the new versions for a chuckle.

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Here in eastern North Carolina, it rarely snows until after the new year but every once in a while we have a white Christmas. One I remember with my daughter-in-law Chanthou that was really special. We all played in the snow and made snow cream. Even though it’s doubtful we’ll get snow for Christmas, I cannot resist singing this song.

White Christmas Irving Berlin was one of the greatest song writers of all time. I love to watch the old movies White Christmas and Holiday Inn, and when I was writing my story, Only in My Dreams, I thought about all the WW2 era movies I loved to watch such as these. The title for my holiday WW2 novella is from the song I’ll be Home for Christmas, which I cannot listen to without tearing up.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas I sing this in the stores when the Christmas decorations come out, but I truly feel it after our small-town Christmas parade.

Snoopy and Red Baron I had this on a forty-five and played it over and over again until there was a groove in the vinyl. That and Alvin and the Chipmunks singing Christmas Don’t Be Late.

Posted in Thoughts

A Rough Few Months

Holiday chaos: the true life of a busy writer-mom!

It’s almost Christmas and those of you who know me, know it’s been a rough few months. My mom fell and thankfully did not break anything, but she’s still had a rough recovery. At the same time, we lost a beloved friend and extended family member, and then the holidays struck. Oh, and did I mention two of my children were moving at the same time? Yeah, it was chaos but now things are returning to what passes for normal in the Hollister household which is somewhere between chaos and catatonia.

It took two weeks to decorate my tree, I am almost finished with Christmas buying and I’ve gotten a good start on wrapping. I’ve been moving things around to finish decorating and I hope I have all the Christmas cards sent out. At this point I can guarantee nothing, but I have food to cook and a place the kids can hang their hammocks. I’m hoping to finish cleaning and decorating this weekend so I can enjoy my family coming in for the holidays and my mom coming home. That in itself is a reason to celebrate.

Oh Crap, Christmas Tree! (after I cleaned up)

As you can imagine a lot of stuff has fallen by the wayside during this time. I did manage to get out both my holiday ebooks and create the print copies in time for Christmas, but I’ve been a bit slack about promoting them. I’ve also been lax in my duties with Heart of Carolina and Pamlico Writers, I’m so thankful for both of these groups and for the members who have graciously taken up the slack during this difficult time. I know that without these guys I wouldn’t be a published author. They and my mentor MK Graff, who hosted the North Carolina Writer’s Read for many years were instrumental in teaching me and giving me the courage to follow my dreams. My husband, best friend and my sister-in-law have been the ones to physically push and drag me to events and out into the spotlight. As this year ends, there are so many people to thank for making this year bearable and wonderful: my husband, family, friends, my writers’ groups, my Beta readers, my self-promo groups, the nurses at mom’s nursing home, her friends and family, and so many more. Even the people I work with, and my customers have been a great source of inspiration and courage during these rough months as well as a joy during the fun months. Thank you all for caring! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Back ground is the Murfree House in Murfreesboro, NC

Posted in my books, promo

Holiday Romances for Less Than $1!

A YouTube video fiasco, a hurricane and the threat of losing her aunt’s inn leaves Maddie Henries with no choice but to trust Cole Harrell.

Cole isn’t a bad guy. He just has the misfortune of being kin to the man who her sister’s heart.

An enemies to lovers romance, this holiday story will make you believe anything is possible at Christmas.

Posted in my books, promo

Christmas party in July

Evergreen Crystals was supposed to be my first true romance but as I was writing it I just got stuck.

After attending a writers’ retreat weekend with my friend Adrienne Dunning, she made me realize that what I enjoyed writing was suspense thrillers with romantic elements.

That night I started rewriting Evergreen Crystals and it became more than I expected it to be.

I hope you enjoy this holiday romance with its festive lights and wedding preparations.

Holidays, weddings and babies are wonderful until someone ends up dead.

Who will be accused of murder and will Rae and Logan make it to the church on time without handcuffs or explosions?

Check out Evergreen Crystals