I was a music major in college so it’s no surprise that music is an important part of my life. I especially love Christmas music and I’d love to share some of my favorites with you. Now since I’m a classically trained soprano, you’re probably expecting me to post vids of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus or Menotti’s Amahl & the Night Visitors. But my taste in music is pretty broad.

Here’s a wonderful rendition of The Little Drummer Boy by Take 6, a fabulous acapella group. I was washing dishes the first time I heard this on the radio. I had to call the station to find out the name of the group so I could run out and buy He is Christmas, the album the song is on. Turn up the volume on your computer and enjoy!

 

Last Christmas, Daughter #1 introduced me to Sarah Maclachlan’s The First Noel/Mary, Mary. It quickly became my new favorite. There’s such a wonderful mix of styles and rhythms, parts of it make me want to dance!

And lastly, here’s my Christmas song discovery for this year. It’s a bluegrass version of Jingle Bells. My music profs would be writhing on the floor if they knew. I can hardly believe it myself. I usually loath blue grass, but I flat out LOVE this:

 

How can you not smile at that?

What’s your favorite Christmas song? Or if you celebrate Hanukkah, do you have special music that helps you get into the spirit of the holiday?

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Once+upon+a+plaidIf you’d like a Christmas romance to get into the holiday mood, please pop over to my website for some recommended reads by some of my favorite authors–Shana Galen, Grace Burrowes, Vanessa Kelly, and more!

 


As we head into the Christmas shopping season, I know some of you are wondering why I’m such a pickle about the whole process. Heaven knows, my mother wonders why the shopping gene skipped over me entirely. She blames herself, but I try to tell her it’s not her fault. Maybe this will help explain matters.

One year for Christmas, when my kids were little, Cabbage Patch Kids were the “must have” item. Sure enough, #1 Daughter wanted one. Unfortunately, the things were in such demand, I couldn’t find one anywhere. By the time I got to wherever they were advertised for sale, they were sold out.

 

People were absolutely silly over these dolls. There were reports of near riots when stores ran out of them. Shoppers who had managed to snag one were accosted by other desperate parents before they would make it out to their cars with the much-sought-after toy. Scalpers were turning them for small fortunes.

And my daughter REALLY wanted one.

Finally at the last store I tried and failed to acquire one because they’d sold out so quickly, I asked the manager if they were giving rain checks. In a hushed tone, he said they were and told me to leave my name and contact information.

I never expected to hear from him again, but about a week later I got a call.

“The item you requested is in,” he said.

“You mean the Cabbage Patch–”

“Shh! Don’t say the name. How soon can you get here?”

5 minutes to find my purse, 5 minutes to drop my kids at my friend’s house, 5 minutes to lift my jaw from the floor and recover from the shock that the store manager had actually called…”Give me 20 minutes.”

“Make it 10.”

He went on to warn me not to tell anyone what I was going to the mall to pick up. When I arrived at the store I was supposed to ask for “Gwen”–with all the cloak and dagger nonsense, I suspect that was an alias–and I was NOT to say I was there for a Cabbage Patch Doll. I was there to collect an “item.” Failure to abide by the rules would lose me my chance to nab the most wanted toy on the planet and might just get me mugged. 

Feeling as if I should have worn a wig and dark glasses, I followed the instructions to the letter. “Gwen” had one question for me. 

“With hair or without?”

I requested hair and she disappeared into the back room for a moment. She returned with a bag that had been stapled shut. I was instructed to pay for it sight unseen.

“Don’t open that until you get to your car,” she warned.

Heck, the way she made me feel a target had been painted on my back, I was tempted not to open it for two days! But curiosity won out…

ClintonBobbieIt was a boy! His name was Clinton Bobbie and come Christmas morning, #1 Daughter was a proud adoptive mother.

And I was an exhausted anti-shopper in the making. So much angst and drama over a toy! I vowed then and there not to ever get sucked into the marketing mayhem of a mega-toy ever again.

At least not until the next Christmas when #1 Daughter wanted a Transformer!

How about you? Do you have any tales from Christmas shopping past to share? What do the kids in your life want this year?

PS. Now #1 Daughter is easy to shop for. Money always fits!

Once UPon a PlaidLooking for stocking stuffers for the romance readers on your list? Check out my Recommended Christmas Reads!

You’ll find stories from some of your favorite authors–Vanessa Kelly, Shana Galen, Grace Burrowes, Monica Burns, Paige Tyler, Terry Spear, Theresa Romain, Miranda Neville and more! Something for every reader on your list…

And maybe something for YOU too!

 

 


downtonWell, who doesn’t? I stumbled across it one night while flipping channels and after five minutes, I knew I had to discover who all these people were and what they were doing. I went out and bought Season One the next day and I’ve been hooked every since.

Why do I love it? Don’t get me started! There’s the house in all its glory. And the whole upstairs/downstairs thing, each realm with its odd notions of what’s appropriate and what’s not. Then there are the characters. And so many of them! It’s a whole world. 

So I decided to try my hand at creating that sort of experience for my readers. The result is the Somerfield Park series. Book One, A RAKE BY ANY OTHER NAME, is out today! I really love this story and hope you will too!

ARBAON200

Love doesn’t always come in an orderly fashion…at least not if Sophie Goodnight has anything to say about it!

When his father Lord Somerset tumbles off the roof, Richard Barrett, Lord Hartley, is called home from his Grand Tour to take the reins of the estate while the marquess recuperates. Somerset is in serious financial difficulty which can only be remedied by marriage to an heiress, Miss Sophie Goodnight, lately arrived from India with her nabob father.

Unfortunately, Richard believes he has already lost his heart to Lady Antonia Pruett. And Miss Goodnight isn’t too keen on becoming Somerset’s purse with feet, so she foils their families’ attempts to throw her and Richard together at every turn. To make matters worse, the reason Lord Somerset fell off the roof in the first place is a secret that threatens to upend all their lives.

Amazon | B&N | BAM | Indiebound | iBooks | Kobo

 

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So what do you love about Downton? Who’s your favorite character? Do you think they’ll kill anyone off next season?


Mia Marlowe
Mia Marlowe

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When I first became a writer, I had no idea readers might be interested in my life. I figured if they read my books, they’d probably already know more about me than I might be comfortable with. (Not that my stories are in any way autobiographical, you understand. It’s just that authors can’t help living through every character that dances from their heads to their laptops!) But I was assured by my publishers that I needed to share with readers on social networks, through my own website and here at JQ.

As it turns out, it’s fun. I enjoy making friends online. Writing is pretty solitary, so I treasure my cyber-buds as much as my ones IRL. But I haven’t told all.

Yet.

Today I thought I’d share 3 things you might not know about me. Here goes:

1. My body chemistry is a little weird. I can drain a watch battery in less than a month unless I put a moleskin patch between my skin and the metal. Like I said, weird.

2. I was a homeschooling mom for 6 years. We teamed up with other families for science and art classes. And since the DH was working for an airline at the time, when we took field trips, we took field trips! Our girls have seen aquariums in most major cities, visited art museums and the Smithsonian, and have had valid passports since they were six and eight years old.

3. I’ve often wondered if I didn’t have a smidge of clairvoyance. For example, when I was a kid, I used to draw a scruffy little black dog all over the margins of my paper. I’d never had a black dog. Didn’t know anyone who did, but this small creature attached itself to my psyche and my notebooks with a vengeance. Fast-forward to 1998. I went to the local pound to look for a dog for my parents who had recently lost theirs. An eight pound poodle mix had been languishing there for about a week, shivering and terrified. However, when it saw me, the dog came running, pawing the air as if it was my long lost friend. I recognized her too. She was my little black dog and we were inseparable for the next 12 years.

So now it’s your turn. Share 3 things about you to be entered in my drawing for Once Upon a Plaid! 

Once+upon+a+plaidA wife may be courted, too…

Many would count Katherine Douglas fortunate indeed. Laird William Douglas is broad-shouldered, gentle-handed, everything a lass could dream.

But after four years of marriage, Katherine still knows little of what goes on in his heart. And she has yet to bear him an heir. The distance between them is too great—and so she flees over the snowy highlands to Glengarry Castle, home of her childhood, to set her husband free.

But William won’t let his wife slip away without a fight. Before long, he’s at her father’s threshold himself, witness to the rumbles of discontent in Glengarry, the bright joy of Yuletide at a family hearth, and the hidden needs of his own beloved…

Pop over to my website to read the first 3 Chapters!

And be sure to share your 3 things!

 

 


I know, I know. It’s not even Halloween yet. In fact, I’ve barely put away my summer flip-flops! But for some unknown publishing reason, Christmas books come out in early October. 

I suppose I should be thankful that we have a holiday season to rush. After all, did you know that celebrating Christmas was once banned in Scotland altogether? It’s true! In 1640, the Scottish parliament passed the following law:

“The kirk within this kingdom is now purged of all superstitious observation of days… therefore the said estates have discharged and simply discharge the foresaid Yule vacation and all observation thereof in time coming, and rescind and annul all acts, statutes and warrants and ordinances whatsoever granted at any time heretofore for keeping of the said Yule vacation, with all custom of observation thereof, and find and declare the same to be extinct, void and of no force nor effect in time coming.

How-the-Grinch-Stole-Christmas-christmas-movies-17364455-1067-800How “Grinchy” can you get?

Fortunately, the law was partly repealed in 1686 and the revelry could begin again. That’s one of the reasons I set my Once Upon a Plaid, so much earlier–in the 1500′s, in fact. That way there was no rumble in the background about what sort of celebration was legal or not.  

So Glenngarry Castle in full-blown Christmas revelry is the canvas upon which I painted my story. You’ll be treated to the full 12 days, starting with Hanging of the Greens on Christmas Eve and crowning the Laird of Misrule through to Hogmany and Epiphany!

You won’t find a Christmas tree. That was a Victorian era import from Germany. But in Once Upon a Plaid, you will enjoy feasting and games and the resident fool’s version of “How the Robin got his Red Breast.” 

Once UPon a PlaidAnd I hope you’ll also enjoy William and Katherine’s love story. It’s a little different than most romances. For one thing, they’ve already been married (to each other!) for four years. But Katherine is barren and if there’s one thing a laird needs, it’s a quiver full of strong sons. She’s determined to petition for an annulment so Will can marry again and sire an heir. William, however, has other plans. 

He loves Kat too much to let her go and is determined to woo his wife back to his side and his bed! The book hits the store shelves tomorrow, but if you’d like a taste today, click here to read the first 3 chapters! 

Some of the early reviews on Goodreads have declared William truly “drool-worthy.” I’d love to know if you agree after reading the first three chapters.

But for now, let’s get a conversation started.  Every family has their own special traditions for holidays. What makes the holiday bright for you and yours? (This can be for any holiday, so even if you want to share how you celebrate National Pizza Day, please chime right in!)


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