Holiday Reading List – Mandy Baggot

My guest today is UK author Mandy Baggot. Let’s hear what Mandy suggests for our Christmas reading list.
Here she is:
Looking for great gifts for Christmas? These are three of the best books I’ve read recently:-
Lost Girls – Angela Marsons
A brilliant crime thriller and #3 in the DI Kim Stone series. This is a gripping page turner with protagonist detective, Kim Stone in a race against time to find two kidnapped girls. I love this series, it was another five-star read for me and I can’t wait for more.
A Cottage in the Country – Linn B Halton
This really was a festive treat and will make you want to cosy up with a hot chocolate and be glad you’re not living Maddie Brooks’ life! Stuck in raging floods at Christmas time in a cold, partially renovated house with a grumpy (yet attractive!) man-who-can, I loved this feel-good story of reinvention.
Life or Something Like It – Annie Lyons 
I adore Annie’s books and this was another triumph. Cat is an opportunity-hungry career woman until she loses her job and has to look after her brother’s children. Will anyone survive? And what will Cat do without Twitter for a week? A perfect, fun, feel-good read with a dash of romance.
Check out Mandy Baggot’s latest release, One Wish in Manhattan or visit her website!
One Wish in Manhattan

What’s Ahead?


Are you like me when it comes to January? Do you look forward to productive hours doing what you really want, but can’t find the time for right now?

I don’t go in for New Year’s Resolutions much. For me, making resolutions is a recipe for failure. For January, I would rather plan and organize and chisel away at my favourite jobs, one of which is writing.

With Christmas looming and all the festivities taking over my life, I’ve had to put some things on hold. I’m desperate to get back to my writing, but social events take precedence. Christmas is wonderful, but when January comes, and all the hullabaloo is over, I’ll sit down at my computer knowing I have hours of uninterrupted time ahead of me, and I’ll smile. The words will come racing out onto the monitor. They’ll jump into chapter formation, and smile back at me when I reread. Yes! This is what I’ve been missing.Anneli-footer-with-border-400x210

December: Family time, friends visiting, Christmas celebrations.

January: Quiet time, thinking time, writing time. TIME is the key! Having time to write is precious. I can’t wait to get busy at the keyboard again.

Fairy Tale in New York

5 - FTNY_Teaser_2

A Fairy Tale in New York… involving snow and a stranded rock star. How extraordinary. The rock industry is hardly the stuff of fairy tales, or is it?

Well. As far as I’m concerned, Christmas, rock, music, and fairy tales go together perfectly.

Fairy Tale in New York is my version of the perfect Christmas story, and I really went all out on the happiness factor. Everything gets kicked off with an epic snowstorm—and I mean epic, of the ground-all-planes-and-halt-all-transport variety. Obviously there’s romance, because I’m a hopeless romantic. And true to form, there’s a rock musician because you know how much I love my golden-voiced bad boys. Honestly, trust me, it’s a winner!

But there’s more to this story than just good cheer and fluff (yes, fluff, it is a Christmas book after all!). I kind of sneaked in a message of personal growth and caring for others. Because that’s what Christmas is all about, first and foremost. Presents are conspicuous in this book only by their near-complete absence, but the characters still have a fabulous time.

And why New York? I’m asked. Why not London, or anywhere else in England?

I wanted to take my characters somewhere different. New York City was on Jude and Carrie’s wish list I have to confess that this is in part because ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues is one of Carrie’s favourite Christmas rock tunes. So why not make their dream come true? After all, granting and fulfilling wishes for one’s characters is one of the perks of being an author-slash-creator. So between us, Carrie, Jude, and I had a lot of fun exploring New York in the snow and discovering some of the differences between an American Christmas and a British one.

In fact, the connection with The Pogues song inspired a whole raft of Christmas-rock-tune related chapter titles, so I invite you to go and work out my playlist. Plus you can have fun playing spot-the-movie-reference bingo—I told you this is an all-out, all-round uninhibited Christmas fun story!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Christmas time. I’d love to hear what you think about my Fairy Tale!

4 - FTNY_Cover

Fairy Tale in New York

New York. A restaurant near Park Avenue. It’s early evening, and dusk is falling. So is the snow. Jude and Carrie are only killing time while they wait for their flight to London. They don’t know yet that their life will never be the same.

When rock star Jude gets stranded in New York with his family on Christmas Eve, he has no idea that he is setting in motion a chain of events that will turn their Christmas into the most magical one yet…

No good deed goes unpunished, or so it seems to Jude and Carrie on the morning of the twenty-fourth of December. The previous day, they gave up their London-bound flights to someone in crisis. And now, a spectacular whiteout is grounding all planes, and Jude, Carrie, and baby Maya are stuck far from home.

Tired, hungry, and just a little panicked, Jude loads his family into a cab and returns to their hotel. But there’s no room at the inn, and not even a platinum credit card will make a difference. Snow is falling heavily, and the family is facing a very bleak night indeed.

How do you celebrate Christmas with no place to stay, no food, and no presents? Join Jude, Carrie, Maya and a cast of colourful characters in this fairy tale story of Yuletide in New York.

Fairy Tale in New York is now available in Kindle and paperback editions from all Amazon domains, including: |



About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

Ultimate rock chick author Nicky Wells writes romance with rock stars—because there’s no better romantic hero than a golden-voiced bad boy with a secret soft heart and a magical stage presence!

Nicky’s books offer glitzy, glamorous romance with rock stars—imagine Bridget Jones ROCKS Notting Hill! If you’ve ever had a crush on any kind of celebrity, you’ll connect with Nicky’s heroes and their leading ladies.

Born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. Nicky loves listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, she’s a wife, mother, occasional knitter, and regular contributor at Siren 107.3 FM with her own monthly show. Rock on!

Nicky’s books: Sophie’s Turn | Sophie’s Run | Sophie’s Encore | Spirits of Christmas

| Fallen for Rock | Fairy Tale in New York


Join Nicky: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Romantic Novelists’ Association | Sapphire Star Publishing | Amazon | Goodreads | Pinterest | Google+

Did you know? There’s a single out now by Nicky’s fictional rock band Tuscq come to life! “Love Me Better” is available for download from Amazon, iTunes and many other places.


Nicky Wells Banner

Christmas Interview – Elisabeth Bertha

We’re off to Austria for this interview. Bundle up. Wrap that scarf around your neck. The snow is everywhere!


My friend Elisabeth lives in Austria. She is a woman of extraordinary talents. I can’t even explain all she does at her amazing job. She is a geologist who does consultant work, assessing environmental impact of construction on building sites, and helping advise construction companies how to deal with groundwater levels. She also helps protect the environment from the impact of industry. It’s a fine line to tread and she often finds herself in a dilemma as she is bound to protect nature without stifling business and the economy.

Here is Elisabeth in her portfolio photo from work.

Elisabeth Bertha

Elisabeth lives in Linz, between Salzburg and Vienna. She loves to hike, ski, and travel. She likes to swim in refreshingly cool water (not the tropical waters for our brave Elisabeth).

Being a pianist, she loves classical music, theater, and movies. In her free time, she likes to travel, and for this, it is very helpful that she has learned to speak several languages. She can hold conversations in English, German, French, Italian, and Hungarian.

One more thing I really admire Elisabeth for is that in every spare moment, she has a book in her hand. This is something that makes every author happy.

And she loves animals, as you can tell from the cat among the presents.


Christmas in Austria is bound to be a white one. The family takes advantage of the many ski and snowboarding opportunities in this lovely country.

Ski Austria

How deep is that snow!?

Austria [1]

Christmas in Austria is loaded in tradition. Here is Elisabeth to tell us about it.

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Of course, the same procedure as every year.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No, never, my family has always been too big.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

No, my children are very traditional thinking- there is always a Hungarian fish soup for lunch (with lots of elderly friends/my generation and older-grown-up-children) and at Christmas Eve,  Bratwürstel (calf) and sauerkraut at grandmother´s place, most of all kids and kiddies and partners and dogs together, everybody talking and laughing loudly…

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I love trying to find special presents for everybody, to fulfill bigger wishes for my children and nice small gifts for all the others, friends and family.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

After midnight mass we put sexy nipple-toys on a renaissance figure next to the church (oh my god!)

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

There are stockings on St Nicholas`Day, filled with sweets and nuts. When the children still were small, somebody (most time someone from the parish) dressed up as St. Nicholas  (invited by the parents) went from house to house, bringing  a bag  full of chocolates and so on (prepared for the children by the parents) to each of them, telling the legends of St Nicholas, bishop of Myra/Turkey. We celebrate Christmas Eve with the ringing of an old brass horse-sleigh-bell, then we all may enter the living room with  the wax-candle-lit  tree and all the presents under it. Then everyone must sing  Silent Night together, even if I play the piano much too high!!

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

I don’t remember. The best gift for me is always to see that my presents please and bring joy to everybody.

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

A voucher for dishwasher cleaning up/10 times from one of my clever daughters- I never got it done without argument…

9. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

I collect them in a secret place and sometimes I may find a new owner or someone who likes it much better…(chacun a son gout!)

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

I love homemade Christmas cookies!!!

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

Filled gingerbread (sugared orange and lemon peels, cranberry jam, nuts), game pastry.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Nothing, never.

13. What would you keep the same if you could?

The silence and nervous whispering of my grown-up daughters, sitting on the stairs and waiting for the ringing bell in the living room (and  silent humming of Gregorian Christmas carols from  the disc).

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

As I mentioned: Gregorian Carols, then Austria`s most famous Christmas song composition : Silent Night  and  during the opening of the parcels Hungarian Christmas songs as Pasztorok, Mennyböl az angyal (even if the children are not able to sing the text, for them these Carols belong inseparably to Christmas Eve). Another absolutely essential music piece is Petersburger Schlittenfahrt for 4 hands, played by my sister and my 85-year-old mother in memory of our grandmother (1896-1994), who especially loved this piano music at Christmas!

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

I love decorating and  at least the building up of our  more than 140-year-old Bethlehem Cradle; tiny wooden figures made by some ancestors, some of them quite primitively cut (it might have been a child trying to carve figures like sheep or a fox his first time) or  much better cut Holy Mary and shepherds. I love creating the green environment around the cradle with dry wood, moss and other plants…. It is quite contemplative!

And I love meeting my brothers and my sister and their children. We really always try to behave quite well and peaceful, and I must say, it is funny, nice and peaceful. But I have to admit, that our Christmas meeting does not last the whole evening, after 3 happy hours we all drive/go home to our own places to celebrate Christmas/singing Carols/opening presents in “lower” society…

 16. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

  •  I do not understand people who hate Christmas or who try to escape (into holidays somewhere else, like warm southern islands!) I really love the darkness of these days, also the bad weather and first snow!
  • The only bad thing about this time is, that at the end of the year the stress at work grows immensely. Each project has to be finished before Christmas. It is never a calm time! If I could, this would be the thing I `d like to change around Christmas (but someday I will be retired…. Then let´s talk about again!)
  •  Christmas at home
  • Bethlehem Cradle, figures built between 1860 and 1880; some of them with very special local meaning like the brown monk. He is called Katzenwoferl, (Wolfgang), a  hermit who lived here in Ebensee  250 years ago in a hut in the wood, caring for many cats …
  • Or figure “Vater-lass-mich-aa-mitgehn”, a boy following his father, or “Miazl (Maria, Mizzi)- mit-den- Eiern”  (she carries a bowl of eggs an her  head), “Nazl (Ignaz)- mit der Leinwand” (carries linen for the child)…
  • our (un- complete ) (un-)holy family….

Here is Elisabeth with her husband, Sandor, in Vienna.



Merry Christmas, Elisabeth!

Christmas Interview – Dawn Hill

My guest today is the lovely Dawn Hill of Bellingham, Washington.IMG_3037a
1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Have never missed a celebration of Christmas with friends and family

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No..but this will be a totally different year as my sweet husband has gone to will be there for me.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner?What did you have?

Corned beef and cabbage..for fun, years ago.
4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I like to buy a special gift for each person I hold dear..I usually put much thought into this and also buy something I personally find attractive.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

One year we really took a left turn. My husband and I booked a week at a Dude Ranch in Arizona. We rode on horseback, ate around a campfire out on the range and had a delightful Christmas feast in the lodge which was festive with 20-ft. trees.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

But..of course!

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

Granddaughter ..Madeleine..was born on Christmas Day!

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

Never did get that “lump of coal”!

9. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

Goodwill is always happy with this sort of thing:)

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

I love to receive jams and breads..every year some friend does the honors!

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

Years ago, when I really did bake a lot, I would make about 10 English lemon breads..from scratch..for friends and family.
It would be an all day event but one I loved.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Maybe a bit less commercial and also more beautiful Christmas programs on telly..remembering the Andy Williams show and that sort.

13. What would you keep the same if you could?

The magic of Christmas that a sweet child has.

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Oh Holy Night

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

Family and gathering..great food and conversation..remembering what Christmas means to us..birthday of Baby Jesus

16. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

Looking forward to spending this Christmas with my dear family and toasting the one I miss.


Can you guess where corned beef and cabbage is a traditional dish (not necessarily for Christmas dinner, but regional cuisine)?

Have you ever been to a Dude Ranch? Would you like to share your thoughts about it? Please leave a comment.