Christmas Interview – Janice Horton

I’d like to introduce Janice Horton, a writer who lives in Scotland. Janice writes contemporary fiction with humour and heart. Please have a look at her book cover images and links at the bottom of the page.

Welcome, Janice!

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1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

We always celebrate at home in Scotland. This year will be special as our three sons will be home. Now they are grown men and two of them plan to work abroad next year, it’s possible we may not be together for future Christmases, and so I plan to make the most of this one!

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

I’m lucky to come from a large family. I’m the eldest of five children, so being alone at Christmas has never been an option. But I’m sure if I had to be on my own I’d make the most of it by watching my favourite movies and enjoying a few festive treats.

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

Nope, it’s tradition all the way in our house. My boys would riot if we deviated even slightly from the way it’s always been done!

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4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I love to give gifts but I’m not lavish about it. I like to give well thought out personal presents.

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

Sledging on the snowy hill at the back of the cottage.

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

Absolutely. Everyone gets a stocking with fruit, nuts and Christmas themed chocolate treats in it.

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

Our three boys being home for Christmas is the best gift ever.

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

I once received aftershave. To say I was surprised was an understatement. All came clear later however when my dear husband unwrapped perfume!

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

A handmade pottery dish from my aunt and uncle in Canada.

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

I’ve given Christmas cakes. My mum says they are the best she has ever tasted.

11. What would you change about Christmas?

I think if there was ever a year that none of our boys could come home for Christmas, I might suggest to my husband that we go and spend Christmas somewhere tropical!

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

Listening to the old Christmas classics on Christmas Eve.

13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

I particularly love ‘White Christmas’ by Bing Crosby.

14. What do you like best about Christmas?

Family first. Everything else is a bonus.

15. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

When I was younger, Christmas was really all about the gifts – what I was getting and what I was giving. Now I really wouldn’t mind if everyone stopped the present giving ritual and concentrated on the day itself – sharing a meal and celebrating.

My Author Blog

Follow me on Twitter: @JaniceHorton

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Link to my Amazon Author Page

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Associate Editor at: Loveahappyending Lifestyle Mag

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Christmas Interview – Sonja Forrester

My guest today is Sonja Forrester.

Some of you may remember Sonja from days gone by, but one thing hasn’t changed.Just as always, she can usually be seen with a cat around her feet.

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Sonja will share her thoughts about Christmas and let us peek into her home as it was decorated for Christmas last year.

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Welcome, Sonja.

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Yes. Generally, on Dec 24th, Christmas Eve, but also occasionally Dec 25th.

 2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No, I have not. I am fortunate that I have never experienced being completely alone.

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

Yes, we had steak and prawns.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I can take it or leave it. I admit it is fun to open a little surprise of some kind, but more fun to watch the people you are with open their gifts/stockings.

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

Watching the cat react to her new toys. Oh wait…that would be the most fun activity the cat had.  Mine would have been when I was a young child and my parents left little clues around the house until I found my parcel.

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

Yes, we generally only have stockings. Not too often do we buy “gifts.”

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

When I was about 4 or 5, I received an “ANNIE OAKLEY” doll. She was my idol in those days.

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

Handmade tablecloth, napkins and placemats. Homemade candles, bath bombs, baked goods. These things mean more to me than any purchased gift.

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

I used to spend hours making gifts for giving at Christmas. There were many lavender sachets for closets and drawers, beeswax candles, bath bombs, clothing that I had made, picture frames that were made from fabric, doll clothes. I once made my niece an entire wedding party’s ensemble for all her Cabbage Patch dolls. Also made her a dress, with another matching one for her Cabbage Patch doll.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Less commercialism, perhaps more homemade or handmade gifts, more music, family and being thankful for what we have.

13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Leise Rieselt der Schnee.

 14. What do you like best about Christmas?

Music and choirs singing.

15. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

It seems to me that there are so many people out there that get themselves very stressed out trying to find “the perfect gift” for someone. Everyone should be happy just to have their loved ones near, food on the table, and a warm bed to crawl into.

Favourite Christmas album

My Favourite Christmas Album

Do you have pets that make your Christmas special? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

Christmas Interview – Carmen

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My friend Carmen is my guest today. She lives in Germany and will give us a different perspective of how she celebrates the holidays.

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1. Do you celebrate Christmas? 

Yes, it’s the greatest family meeting ever – the whole family comes together at this time – more than at other feasts.

(We even remember family  members who are no longer with us: the cemetery is adorned with candlelight everywhere at that time.)

 2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

 No – I always met with my best friends or family at least.

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

Yes I have every year ! Because the traditional Christmas dinners are not good  for the figure.

My favourite non–traditional Christmas dinner is: Mixed Grill (Beef goulash – pieces; onion slices; colourful sweet pepper; and strips of bacon alternatively put on skewers) heated in the oven under the grill served together with an american barbecue sauce or tomato paste on top of it and french fries.

Or otherwise a Hungarian goulash with “Spätzle,” or a very good piece of beef with herb butter on it together with french fries or baked potato.

Before this there will be a healthy salad.

And we must not forget a sweet dessert after that. Maybe a kind of  cinnamon vanilla ice cream, or an iced coffee together with this, or cinnamon stars.

Everything served on bone china and a festive decorated tablecloth with candlelight.

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We like to pick nuts and make a liqueur from the biggest ones.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving? 

I wonder if the gifted person  really likes this? It is never easy to make a gift to persons who need only money, but you want to give a personal gift at that time. Something that enchants even older persons. And I often noticed later, that especially these gifts are the ones where I was the most wrong.

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

Sleigh riding through the snowy forest on a horse-drawn sleigh with a lantern on the carriage near the Tegernsee and a torch-lit walk through the snowy mountain, followed by Bavarian shaking music and Christmas poems in a wood-heated festively decorated cabin.

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

I  only use  stockings at Christmas or St. Nicholas Day when the heating doesn’t work, or when I have a cold  ha ha….

I have only an Advent decoration in the form of embroidered socks made in Russia.

For St. Nicholas Day,  on the evening before the 6th of December, children place boots in front of their door. The next morning they will be filled up with sweet treats or if the children have not been good perhaps it could be a rod  in it, too. You can buy everywhere little red plastic boots (like the boots of Santa Claus) filled with sweet treats.

Not to forget, before Christmas we have a Christmas wreath with four candles – we light one after the other every Sunday in December before Christmas.

And we have a calendar with 24 little doors to open from the first of December with little chocolate goodies in it for children, the housewife (for her nerves ha ha…) or the pet, or very modern: filled with beer bottles for men.

I noticed these days. I have a re-fillable calendar for our pet –  every day he gets a Frolics (treat) and on the 24th some more, and he demands that with shiny eyes every morning.

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

A brunch for two in a Noble Hotel; or an evening in a dialectical or folk-theatre, a short trip together with our dog.

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

An egg cup, deodorant, and a electric garage door opener.

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

I put it into an invisible corner and later on I throw it away. Or if it was very expensive – I try to change it or to get the money from it to buy something more useful.

10. What would you change about Christmas?

It becomes too commercial from year to year. Already in August the competition  begins at the supermarkets to sell their goods for it. The contemplation is too short in my opinion – it’s now only the pre-Christmas stress.

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

The time before Christmas is the best time with all the electric or candle lights – this has something mystical, like in fairy tales. The people are altogether more friendly and helpful; the preparations before the great feast, the anticipation, the sweet pastries everywhere and anywhere slightly different.

To see all the packages under the Christmas  tree before they are opened – I like this.

The tradition to go very well dressed to church and celebrate there with other people before the Christmas meal, and distribution of the Christmas presents.

12. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Silent Night, or O Christmas Tree, Daughter of Zion – we always sing that in the church at Christmas.

Or Pop Music of Bryan Adams, Simon and Garfunkel, or modern Christmas singers of England and America – I like to put on the radio at this time.

13. What do you like best about Christmas?

Especially it is a feast for little children – we all like their bright eyes when they see their gifts for the first time. And the candlelight and festive mood together with darkness and all the pretty light-decorated trees and houses and not to forget the Xmas markets in the cities with their special smell of mulled-wine and their sweet treats.

14. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

At Christmas every year you notice that the years pass by quicker when you get older and you always think then, “Another year gone already.”

A Christmas without snow is not as beautiful as a Christmas with snow.

And after Christmas everybody waits already for New Year’s Eve to have a party and after that the new year begins again.

At New Year’s we always have a traditional fondue feast together with good friends.

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Writing Styles – Part 3

Continued from Writing Styles – Part 3

Writers all have different ways of conveying meaning to their readers. In this post I’ve asked authors to provide short excerpts with examples of how they’ve developed description of a character and a setting. A third challenge was to provide a sentence or two showing their favourite ending to a scene.

Today’s first guest is Emma Calin.

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KNOCKOUT! A Passionate Police Romance by Emma Calin

1. Character:

He smiled again, showing even white teeth behind the full wide lips that pouted forward as he spoke in such a way that just possibly he really was French.

Sitting opposite him, she could take in the full presence of this stranger. It was as if he transmitted a force – an aura of danger and a sardonic humorous innocence. She attempted to re-assert her normal senses – her ability to appraise a man, threat or situation in the blink of an eye – a skill she had honed on the streets of South London – in a world of gangs, drugs and murder. And yet – here she was, tripping over the bags that some stupid girl had left in the entrance to her brain.

2. Setting:

She drove down to the beach and looked out at the azure, turquoise and aquamarine cocktail of the Pacific Ocean. Waves split into pure white fragments against an offshore rock. The beautiful loneliness of the scene mirrored her feelings of desolation. The rollers finished their journey pounding their force against the uncaring sand. She laid her head back and let a wave of fantasy break over her as he kissed her lips and moved inside her. For a few seconds he was there again in her heart but too soon the image washed away leaving only the call of gulls and the trickle of her desperate tears.

 

3. Scene Ending:

The great River Seine rippled and pushed on to the sea as the sun tiptoed the back stairs of the world climbing towards dawn across Paris, maybe the morning light would never uncover two lovers hiding within the protection of each other’s arms….

 Knockout 2013 rationalised

LINKS:

Amazon Worldwide Link:  Knockout! A Passionate Police Romance

Amazon Author Page: Emma Calin Amazon Author Page

Emma Calin Blog: http://www.emmacalin.blogspot.com

Emma Calin Website:  http://www.emmacalin.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/emma.calin

and pages: http://www.facebook.com/Knockout.Romance.Novel & http://www.facebook.com/TheChosenbyEmmaCalin  http://www.facebook.com/Escape2Love

Twitter: @Emma Calin
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/emmacalin/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4915751.Emma_Calin

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And now, let’s welcome Nicky Wells.

Author - Nicky Wells

Author – Nicky Wells

1. CHARACTERS—This little excerpt neatly contains the essence of all main characters in Sophie’s Turn; Dan, the rock star; Sophie, the eponymous heroine; her fiancé, Tim; and her best friend, Rachel:

Shh!” I admonished. “Will you keep your voice down? What are you talking about?”

“Dan is completely besotted with you, and he said he couldn’t bear the thought of you getting engaged to Tim so he had to…hic…come and check him out…hic!” Oh God, she had the hiccups. She would have to spend the night in the guest room. Once Rachel got the hiccups, she was beyond salvation. I gave her twenty minutes before she collapsed. I had to extract critical information fast.

“Why did you introduce him to Tim?” I continued my interrogation. “Couldn’t you have sent him away?”

Oh no, Sophie. I couldn’t turn this lovely, heartbroken man away.” She looked at me with big, innocent, and totally unfocused eyes. “In fact, we were just looking for you. You seemed to have… hic… hic… hic…disapp-hic-eared.”

“What did you say to Tim about who Dan was?” I needed to know.

“That he was Dan, of course. Your boy-hic-friend from Tuscq!” She dropped this bombshell completely nonchalantly.

“You what?” I squeaked. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

No, I’m s-hic-erious! Ti-hic-im thought it was very funny. Hic.”

2. SETTING

This excerpt from the opening pages of Sophie’s Run sets the scene for Sophie’s amazing exile:

While I waited for the ferry to finish docking, I drank in every detail of my chosen exile. The calm sea with little white-crested waves lapping gently against the quay. The green and white of the sandy dunes standing stark and fresh against the wide-open, deep-blue sky. The tiny harbor with only a handful of buildings and a few fishing boats bobbing on the incoming tide. Seagulls wheeling overhead, their mournful cries carrying on the gentle breeze, augmenting my sense of emptiness, newness. Fresh, clean, salty air. I took another deep breath, feeling calmer already.

3. SCENE ENDING

Adrenaline sloshed through my body in a rush of great excitement. This was it.

Music. Did I want music?

I flapped about a bit, shuffling through the few CDs I had brought and eventually deciding on my new Eighties compilation CD. No sooner had the first song started than there was a tentative knock. I did a final check; everything was ready.

I went to open the door.

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Nicky Wells is your ultimate rock chick author. Signed to US Publisher, Sapphire Star Publishing, Nicky writes Romance That Rocks Your World, featuring the rock star and the girl next door.

Nicky’s books offer glitzy, glamorous contemporary romance with a rock theme ~ imagine Bridget Jones ROCKS Notting Hill!

Born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in Lincoln. In a previous professional life, Nicky worked as a researcher and project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in London and Washington, D.C. Like her leading lady, Sophie, Nicky loves listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, she’s a wife, mother, and occasional teaching assistant. Rock on!

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Loveahappyending.com Lifestyle | Romantic Novelists’ Association | Sapphire Star Publishing | Amazon | Goodreads

SOPHIE’S RUN SALES LINKS: AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.COM | BARNES & NOBLE

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We’d love to hear what you think. Why not leave a comment?

Sophie’s Scrumptious Paella

Come dine with Sophie and Dan: Today’s treat is… Scrumptious Paella!

Sophie’s Run Blogtour 2013

 

Sophie’s Run

 Her famous star remains her rock while life takes her on a little detour…

Who says that the road towards true love is straight and even?  Sophie is certainly discovering that it is anything but.

So she has finally found the man of her dreams! Well… she knows who he is, even though she hasn’t actually quite met him yet.  But she misses her opportunity, and then her life goes crazy.  Rock star and ex-fiancé, Dan, keeps getting in the way of her new romance—even if he is just trying to be helpful.  A fire, an impromptu mini-trip with Dan, and a dreaded wedding later, Sophie is still struggling to meet the love of her life. Then, just as she is getting it together with her perfect man, best friend Rachel commits an act of unspeakable betrayal.

Sophie has had enough. Confused and distraught, she decides that it is time for radical change.  Surprising herself and shocking her friends, she embarks on a secret journey and eventually gets her life back on track.

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Sophie’s Run is now available in Kindle edition from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and in Paperback edition from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. You can also get the paperback at Barnes & Noble, or download Sophie’s Run onto your Nook (coming soon).

 

Hey, you! My name is Sophie, and I’m so excited you’re visiting me here today at Anneli’s fabulous blog. I’m the heroine (God, that sounds weird—I still blush when I say that) in the Rock Star Romance Trilogy by Nicky Wells. Nicky and I, we’re currently taking her second book, Sophie’s Run, on tour, and we’re taking you to all the places and sharing all the food that features in the books.

Today, I share a very special recipe with you. It’s something Steve, my… current boyfriend, shall we say, and I cook for Dan (the rock star) and Rachel (my best friend). I know, that sounds like an interesting set-up, right? You’ll just have to read the book to find out what on earth is going on, but meanwhile, here’s a little excerpt:

Dan popped the tops and handed a bottle to Steve. He pulled out a kitchen chair and sat down, and Rachel joined him instantly. Steve was at the stove looking after the paella and I laid the table.

“January,” I prompted Dan. “That seems an odd time. You’ll miss the Christmas sales.”

“But we’ll be the first launch of the year, which gives us more time to get into the ‘best album of the year’ charts. Plus we’ll be touring from February, and the label has also booked a promo gig for New Year’s Eve. Tickets to go on sale soon, not that you’ll need any.” He grinned meaningfully.

“I should hope so, too!” I teased.

“It’s good to see you,” Dan changed the subject abruptly. “And you, Steve.”

Steve raised his bottle in salute. “Likewise. Sophie’s been looking forward to tonight for days.”

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See? We’re having a regular little dinner party here. And here’s what you need to make your own, Sophie-style sumptuous paella for four people.

~about 500 grams of chorizo sausage, thinly sliced

~1 large onion, roughly chopped

~2 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped

~1 cup of paella rice

~a pinch of saffron

~about a litre of chicken stock

~400 grams of cod or any other white fish (fresh or frozen)

~400 grams of king prawns

~a dash of lemon juice

~a small handful of peas (fresh or frozen)

~a large handful of herbs (fresh or dried): parsley is a must; coriander and basil to taste if you like

~salt and pepper to taste

~4 eggs

~one or two spring onions, roughly chopped, for garnish

~200 grams of little prawns (optional)

~a small chicken breast, diced (optional)

~any other seafood you might like to add (squid, mussels, clams) (optional)

And here’s what you do…

Well, as you see from the ingredients list, this dish is versatile. I’m going to tell you my ‘basic’ version excluding all the optional extras; but if you feel inspired, just add them in as you go towards the end of cooking (I’d say… with ten, fifteen minutes left).

First of all, in a large frying pan or wok, dry-fry the chorizo until all the lovely fat oozes out. I like my chorizo crisp! Then fry the onions in the chorizo fat until they’re just going glassy and soft. Add the garlic and the paella rice and give it a good stir until the rice is properly coated. Next, pour your chicken stock in and stir around.

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Boil for maybe a minute, then add the fish (if frozen), peas, herbs, saffron and pepper. (Leave the salt until the very end ~ all the fish and chorizo may already make this dish plenty salty!) Turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the liquid boils away, add more water.

Meanwhile, hard-boil the eggs, leave to cool, peel and cut into quarters. Leave to one side until ready to garnish your paella.

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After 30 minutes or so, try the rice to see how far it has cooked. If it’s soft and very nearly done, add the king prawns and any other optional ingredients (note ~ if using chicken, brown it in a separate frying pan first so that it doesn’t dry out!). Simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes until all the seafood is heated through. Taste and season as needed. Spoon out into four bowls and garnish with the eggs. Enjoy with a large glass of wine!

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So, bon appetit! I hope my post today inspired you to have a try at making your very own Scrumptious Paella. And while you wait for it to cook, why not join me and the men in my life with a nice glass of wine? Put your feet up and relax for a few minutes. Sophie’s Turn and Sophie’s Run are both out now for you to enjoy… 🙂

Sophie’s Run GIVEAWAYS

1) Standard Giveaway

Nicky Wells is giving away one delicious chocolate gift to a lucky winner in the UK or North America!

  

The small print: This Gift prize is a product of Unique Chocolate. The Gift prize is subject to availability in your country. If the Gift prize is not available in your country, Nicky Wells reserves the right to offer a substitute gift prize of a similar nature at her discretion. Nicky Wells will require the winner’s postal address for shipping purposes.

Rafflecopter Links:

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2. Bonus Giveaway

 Nicky Wells offers a giveaway of one Amazon gift voucher worth $20/£15 for one lucky winner. To enter, simply share your thoughts on Sophie’s Run with Nicky. Email your comment to nickywells@sapphirestarpublishing.com and your name will be entered into the draw. Competition closes 1 May 2013.

About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

Author - Nicky Wells

Author – Nicky Wells

 

 

Rock On! Nicky Wells writes fun and glamorous contemporary romance featuring a rock star and the girl next door.  A signed author with U.S. publisher, Sapphire Star Publishing, Nicky is in the throes of publishing her Rock Star Romance Trilogy. Nicky loves rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters.  When she’s not writing, Nicky is a wife, mother, and occasional teaching assistant.

Originally born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993, and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. In a previous professional life, Nicky worked as a researcher and project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in London and Washington, D.C.

Visit Nicky on her blog where you can find articles, interviews, radio interviews and, of course, an ongoing update on her work in progress. You can also follow Nicky on Twitter and find her on Facebook. Nicky is a featured author on the innovative reader/author project, loveahappyending.com and has joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Nicky also has author pages at Sapphire Star PublishingAmazon and, of course, Goodreads.