New Release Spotlight! “Gift of Grace: A Sweet Holiday Romance” by Hopeless Romantic Shanna Hatfield

37 Christmas Reads to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

Welcome to my annual Christmas Countdown Book Blast! During the month of December, I indulge in reading my favorite fiction: Christmas stories! So for the entire month and for The Twelve Days of Christmas, December 25 through January 6th, I will post a new book each day to help get you in the holiday spirit.  This is a combination of New Release Spotlights and the Christmas Countdown Blitz hosted by the lovely ladies at Loving the Book.  In addition, I’m offering free downloads of my Christmas short story Ino’s Love in ebook and audio. To claim your digital copy visit the book’s download page here. For an audiobook copy send me an email at mariannesciucco@gmail.com indicating whether you want a US or UK download code. Either way, you’ll be subscribing to my monthly newsletter where I feature book news and giveaways. You’re free to unsubscribe at any time. Happy holiday reading! 

Day Eight, Book Eight

Sometimes the best gifts are those freely given from the heart . . .

Gifts of GraceReady to begin a new life far away from the sad memories of the Civil War, J.B. and Nora Nash head west on the Oregon Trail. They settle into the small community of Pendleton, Oregon, on a piece of land where they’re excited to build a future and their dreams together.

A devastating tragedy leaves them both reeling as they draw further and further apart. Nora blames J.B. for her unhappiness while he struggles through his own challenges. Only a miracle can bring them through their trials and reunite them for Christmas.

Together, will they discover the gift of grace in this sweet holiday romance brimming with hope, history, and abiding love?

Gift of Grace is the first book in the Gifts of Christmas series, a collection of heartwarming, wholesome romances, featuring precious gifts given straight from the heart.

Don’t wait! Order your copy today!

About the Author

shannaUSA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.” Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic is out to make it happen, one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

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New Release Spotlight: “The Perfect Love Song,” a Perfect Christmas Love Story by Patti Callahan Henry

37 Christmas Reads to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

Welcome to my annual Christmas Countdown Book Blast! During the month of December, I indulge in reading my favorite fiction: Christmas stories! So for the entire month and for The Twelve Days of Christmas, December 25 through January 6th, I will post a new book each day to help get you in the holiday spirit.  This is a combination of New Release Spotlights and the Christmas Countdown Blitz hosted by the lovely ladies at Loving the Book.  In addition, I’m offering free downloads of my Christmas short story Ino’s Love in ebook and audio. To claim your digital copy visit the book’s download page here. For an audiobook copy send me an email at mariannesciucco@gmail.com indicating whether you want a US or UK download code. Either way, you’ll be subscribing to my monthly newsletter where I feature book news and giveaways. You’re free to unsubscribe at any time. Happy holiday reading! 

Day Seven, Book Seven

Just in time for Christmas, escape with a perfect love song, a perfect love story, and a perfect dose of holiday magic. 

perfect love songCan one song change the course of a life?

Brothers Jimmy and Jack Sullivan live a nomadic life doing what they love: touring with their band, The Unknown Souls. But Jack’s recent engagement to Kara has everyone looking forward to a Christmas destination wedding in Ireland.

Unlike his brother, Jimmy never expected to fall in love. But he feels a sense of peace and happiness whenever he’s around Kara’s best friend, Charlotte—which has him wondering what he’s missing. Over Thanksgiving, Jimmy and Charlotte write a song while sitting together on the back porch. When the band sings it at a Christmas concert the next night, Jimmy insists it’s the perfect love song—but a manager for another famous duo is adamant that it’s the perfect Christmas song. Before Jimmy knows what’s happening, he’s on tour with the hottest country band around and suddenly everyone knows his name.

But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Jimmy finds himself far away from those he loves—especially Charlotte. Only a Christmas miracle—or two—will be able to lead Jimmy back to Ireland, to his brother, and to love.

Purchase The Perfect Love Song Now

About the Author

PCHPatti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling author of fifteen novels, including the historical fiction, Becoming Mrs. Lewis – The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis, now a USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and The Globe and Mail bestseller. In addition, she is the recipient of The Christy Award—A 2019 Winner “Best Book of the Year.”

The author is also the host of the popular seven-part original “Behind the Scenes of Becoming Mrs. Lewis Podcast Series” launched,  October 2019.  The podcast audiobook will be released, January 7, 2020, and available for pre-order now.     ​

Patti’s books include Losing the Moon, Between the Tides; Where the River Runs; When Light Breaks; Between the Tides; The Art of Keeping Secrets; Driftwood Summer; The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story; Coming Up for Air; And Then I Found You; The Stories We Tell; The Idea of Love, The Bookshop at Water’s End, Becoming Mrs. Lewis and The Favorite Daughter. 

A finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, an Indie Next Pick, an OKRA pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year, Patti is published in numerous languages. Her articles and essays have appeared in Southern Living, PINK, Writer’s Digest, Garden and Gun, Portico Magazine, Love Magazine (UK), Red Magazine (UK), Atlanta Journal, Birmingham Magazine, and more.

Her essays can also be found in anthologies and collections such as Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy; Southern Writers Writing, and State of the Heart. Patti is a frequent speaker at luncheons, book clubs, and women’s groups.

Growing up in Philadelphia as the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Patti learned early the value of storytelling. At the age of twelve, her family moved to South Florida where Patti found the sanctuary of libraries and began her slow but steady journey into understanding the power of story to navigate confusing times in life.

Patti attended Auburn University for her undergraduate work and Georgia State University for her graduate degree. Once a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, she now writes full time.

The mother of three children, she now lives in both Mountain Brook, Alabama and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband.

Connect with Patti Callahan Henry

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Note: I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a small commission from book sales.

New Release Spotlight! “The Dog I Loved,” Heartwarming Canine Fiction from Susan Wilson

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New York Times bestselling author Susan Wilson is back with another signature heartwarming novel—one that begs the question: Can a dog lead the way to finding one’s humanity?

Dog I LovedAfter spending years in prison for a crime she didn’t intend to commit, Rose Collins is suddenly free. Someone who knows about the good work she has done—training therapy dogs while serving time—has arranged for her early release. This mysterious benefactor has even set her up with a job in the coastal Massachusetts community of Gloucester, on the edge of Dogtown, a place of legend and, for the first time since Rosie’s whole world came crashing down, hope. There she works to rebuild her life with the help of Shadow, a stray dog who appears one rainy night and refuses to leave Rose’s side.

Meghan Custer is a wheelchair-bound war veteran who used to be hopeless, too. Living at home with her devoted but stifling parents felt a lot like being in prison, in fact. But ever since she was matched with a service dog named Shark, who was trained in a puppy-to-prisoner rehabilitation program, Meghan has a brand new outlook. Finally, she can live on her own. Go to work. And maybe, with Shark by her side, even find love again.

Two strong women on a journey toward independence whose paths collide in extraordinary ways. Two dogs who somehow manage to save them both. A tale of survival and a testament to the human spirit, The Dog I Loved is an emotional and inspiring novel that no reader will soon forget.

Purchase The Dog I Loved

About the Author

Susan Wilson2Susan is the author of ten well-received novels including her 2010 novel, One Good Dog, which enjoyed six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and The Dog Who Danced received the coveted Maxwell Medal for Fiction from the Dog Writer’s Association of America in 2012. Her 1996 novel Beauty was made into a CBS Sunday Night Movie starring Jamey Sheridan and Janine Turner and can still be seen occasionally on the Lifetime network. She is working on her next novel, another work featuring the complicated relationship between humans and the dogs they love.  She lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband and has two grown daughters and three grandchildren.  Susan is also a horse lover with a Quarter horse mare, Maggie Rose.

 

New Release Spotlight: “Because of You,” Riveting Second Hand Romance By Allie Boniface

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Today I’m happy to feature a new book from my friend Allie Boniface. I met Allie when I was an aspiring author and she’d published her first book. She shared a lot of hard-won wisdom with me and served as a beta reader when I needed guidance. Now she’s a USA Today Bestselling Author. It’s been a thrill to watch her success. Here’s her new book, a romance.

 

Because of YouAbout the Book

Ten years ago, Piper Townsend fell to her death from the top of a fraternity house, and no one on Drake Isle has ever been the same. Blake Carter’s fraternity was scandalized. Misterion College closed down altogether. And Blake’s girlfriend, Emerson Doyle, fled the island after her best friend died and never looked behind her.

Now they’re back.

Blake’s the CEO of a multi-million dollar tech firm looking to relocate to the island. Emerson owns a yoga studio in the building he wants to buy. They haven’t spoken in ten years. They’re on opposite sides of the bargaining table.

But old flames die hard.

And the more Blake and Emerson fight both the past and each other, the more they realize that coming to terms with tragedy is their only chance of finding love again…

What reviewers are saying

“The chemistry between Emerson and Blake blazes throughout the book.”

“Wow, what a great start for this new series by this very talented author…This is a story that is at times heartbreaking and at others heartwarming.”

“I’ll start by saying I read this novel in one day. One day!…The relationship was so tangible to me, the shared history, all that was left unsaid, I just couldn’t stop reading. I just needed to unravel everything!”

“This was a moving story – so many emotions involved.”

Purchase Because of You  Amazon  ~  Barnes and Noble  ~  Kobo  ~ iBooks

About the Author

AllieAllie Boniface is the USA Today best-selling author of over a dozen novels, including the Cocktail Cruise, Hometown Heroes, and Pine Point series. Her books are most often set in small towns and feature emotional, thought-provoking, sensual romance with relatable characters you’ll know and love. A graduate of the University of Rochester and Case Western Reserve University, Allie currently lives in a small town in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York with her husband and their two furry felines. When she isn’t teaching high school English, she likes to travel, lose herself in great music, or go for a long run and think about her next small town story.

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New Release Spotlight: “A Flair for Flip-Flops (The Sadie Kramer Flair Mysteries Book 5)” By Deborah Garner

A fun in the sun mystery sure to delight!

img_4170A vacation on the Southern California coast promises rest and relaxation for flamboyant senior sleuth Sadie Kramer and her mischievous Yorkie, Coco. But when the body of a heartthrob celebrity washes up on the beach outside her luxury hotel suite, Sadie’s fun-in-the-sun soon turns into sleuthing-with-the-stars.

The resort’s wine and appetizer gatherings, suspicious guest behavior, and casual strolls along the beach boardwalk may provide clues, but will they be enough to discover who the killer is? Or will mystery and mayhem leave a Hollywood scandal unsolved?

Start reading now!

Available on Amazon. A Kindle Unlimited Selection.

 

About the Author

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Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.

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NaNoWriMo Writer? Watch Your Back, Neck, Shoulders, Arms, and Hands, Your Most Important Writing Tools  

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The month of November brings many things:  Election Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, Caregiver Appreciation Month, and Movember. But if you’re a writer, it also brings something else: NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month.

NaNoWriMoNaNoWriMo is a what-seems-to-be impossible challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It starts at midnight on November 1st and ends at 11:59 pm November 30th. Sound crazy? It did to me when I first heard about it in 2013, a rather latecomer to the game since it started in 1999. Better late than never. Anyway, since I live with chronic pain related to Repetitive Strain Injuries and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome the concept of NaNoWriMo is well beyond my capabilities, but I’m still seduced by the idea of it.

Imagine being able to commit to writing an average of 1,667 words each day for 30 days. At the end, you’ll have the first draft of a book, which over the next few months you can polish into something presentable, maybe even publishable. The possibilities astound me, a writer who worked on the first draft of a novel for four years. I started it as part of a NANO challenge in 2013, when I was able to produce 4,000 words over the course of a week before succumbing to a flare-up of RSIs and TOS.

NaNoWriMo is not for anyone without the stamina to sit at a keyboard for hours each day. One thousand six hundred and sixty-seven words sound easy – it’s the equivalent of six and a half pages – in theory, achievable for most people who are able to keep butt in chair and type long enough to do it. But if you’re prone to carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, bursitis, headaches, or neck pain, this challenge will most likely exacerbate your condition and prevent future NaNoWriMo attempts.

Woman laptop sore neck Dollarphotoclub_47543595.jpgMaintaining the postures of keyboarding, mousing, and viewing a computer monitor for hours requires an incredible amount of exertion, muscle control, and energy. I’ve heard it said that an 8-hour worker at a computer station works her body as hard as a professional athlete, using primarily the smallest and most delicate of muscles and tendons, as well as a multitude of nerves. These micro-tissues, sustaining a static posture over long periods of time, become inflamed, injured, and cause great pain. If ignored, the condition continues. If left untreated, permanent disability can result. I am an authority on this topic: Permanently partially disabled since 2006, currently recovering from my fourth related surgery, the second on my right shoulder in ten years.

I’m not a killjoy. I simply don’t want to see other people end up like me. It’s no fun struggling to write 250 words a day and failing. It’s hard to complete a project when you have to avoid the computer for days on end. If you’re wrapped up in NaNoWriMo please take care of yourself. Here are some tips:

Prepare your body for a writing session:

  • Massage your hands with your favorite lotion.
  • Stretch your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, and neck.
  • Don’t forget your back, which can also be overworked.

Adjust your work space for safety:

  • Make sure your monitor is an arm’s length away, at a height where your eyes are focused one inch below its upper edge.
  • Use a keyboard tray.
  • Ensure it’s at the appropriate height so your elbows are at rest and in a neutral position.
  • You should not be reaching for the keyboard.
  • Be careful with your mouse. It’s the root cause of a lot of disability. I use a keyboard with a built-in glide pad. Cured my five-year history of elbow tendinitis.
  • A lap top is not a desk top. Don’t use it as one. The ergonomics of it are completely off and will contort your body in painful ways.
  • Take the time to set your chair at the appropriate height, making sure your feet are on the floor. Use lumbar support if you have it.
  • If you can get a sit-stand desk get it! Makes a huge difference.

Watch your posture:

  • Sit up, don’t slump.
  • Position your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips.
  • Do not thrust your head forward. You’ll get “turtle head” and hurt your back.

Take frequent rest breaks:

  • Use a timer. Twenty minutes is as long as you should write before taking a break.
  • While resting, do some desk stretches or stand up and stretch, have a drink of water, rest your eyes.
  • Listen to your body.

After a writing session:

  • Stretch again.
  • Soothe your muscles with gentle massage, especially your hands.

If you have pain:

  • Don’t ignore it. Respond and treat.
  • Use ice or heat as tolerated on sore areas. Thermacare wraps are awesome!
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Motrin and Tylenol, can help.
  • Topical over the counter remedies such as Topricin, Bio-Freeze, and Real Time Pain Relief are easily available and provide relief.
  • Remember to stretch gently every day.
  • Limit computer time or perform multiple short sessions each day.

If the problem continues:

  • See your doctor
    • A course of physical and/or occupational therapy can ward off chronic pain issues.
    • Your doctor can order prescription strength medicine such as analgesics, muscle relaxants, and topical therapies.
    • Surgery is a last resort. Don’t let this happen to you.
  • Consult a chiropractor.
  • Hire a massage therapist.
  • Visit an ergonomist.
  • Stay off the computer!

Interesting FAQs:

  • Since its inception in 1999, 367,913 NaNoWriMo participants have completed a novel.
  • In 2017, 306,230 writers participated in NaNoWriMo.
  • Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published, including:
    • Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants
    • Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus
    • Hugh Howey’s Wool
    • Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl
    • Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator
    • Marissa Meyer’s Cinder

Avoiding repetitive strain injuries can keep you in the running to complete your own NaNoWriMo challenge and finish that novel!

For more info on NaNoWriMo visit https://nanowrimo.org/

NaNoWriMo image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month. Others via Adobe Stock and Dollar Photo Club.

New Release Spotlight: The Trouble with Paradise (a Madeline Dawkins Mystery), Action and Suspense from Cynthia Hamilton

img_4048-3Two dead husbands. Accident, suicide or murder?

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Life in beautiful Santa Barbara County will never be the same for two grieving widows. One is serving a lengthy sentence for the bizarre tractor death of her much older, land-rich husband. The other is convinced her husband’s death was no suicide.

During Madeline’s four-month convalescence, Steven Ridley—her jailbird ex—manages to get parole on the pretext of retraining inmates for their reentry into society. He has the audacity to enlist Mike’s help to find out if inmate Lindsay Bartholomew had been set up to take the fall for her husband’s death.

Santa Barbara D.A. Conrad Adams makes a personal appeal to MDPI on behalf of Natalie Sheckle, hoping Madeline and Mike can prove whether her husband took his own life, or if someone stitched him up for his own murder.

Never ones to shy away from long shots or lost causes, the duo dives into both cases. But now they must figure out what secrets these two men took to their graves.

The Trouble with Paradise is the fourth book in the Madeline Dawkins Series

Start reading now! Purchase on Amazon. A Kindle Unlimited book.

About the Author

Cynthia HamiltonA lifelong reader and lover of the written word, I turned to writing as a means of coping with a debilitating illness in 2000. Since then, I’ve written eleven books and have published nine of them. In addition to contemporary fiction, I write detective mysteries–THE MADELINE DAWKINS MYSTERY SERIES–and some memoir– FINDING RUTH and ONCE UPON A LYME…A TALE OF TWO JOURNEYS.

My Madeline series has really captured my mind and heart, allowing me to expand on one woman’s nightmare by giving her dual careers and a supporting cast of characters, with special emphasis on Mike Delaney, her partner in love and crime. THE TROUBLE WITH PARADISE is the fourth installment in the series and is set for release in the summer of 2019. As with the rest of the books, it is centered around Santa Barbara, California, Madeline’s hometown as well as mine.

Being a voracious reader, I’ve always got my Kindle with me, taking advantage of any spare moment to read, even while eating. In addition to reading and writing, I love nothing more than being outside, preferably taking hours-long walks with my husband.

I share my reading experiences through my reviews, though I only review books that I have truly enjoyed. I would take no pleasure in criticizing another author’s work. The reading experience is so subjective; if I’m not enjoying what I’m reading, I will move on to something else, but that is no reflection on the author or the book.

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