The best of 2016

With the sun about to set on another year, I asked my fellow authors the same question I’m asking you.

What is your favorite memory from 2016?


Vicki Batman:

A Baltic cruise with Handsome. And my annual fun day when my second book released.

Claire Gem:

My favorite memory from 2016 is my “rerun” trip to Florida, a special lunch with my daughter after a frightening medical diagnosis disturbed our traditional mother-daughter day at the Ringling Museum. Now all is looking very hopeful.SOS - Claire Gem.JPG

Marian Lanouette:

By far it would  the email telling me I got a four book deal from Kensington/Lyrical for my Jake Carrington Mysteries.

S.A. Taylor:

I’d have to say meeting several of the SOS sisters at the RWA conference was one of my favorite memories of 2016. I don’t have a picture of the whole group, but did find a good one with Vicki at the KOD Death by Chocolate party.  Great times!sos-vicki-and-steph

Oh, I also became an aunt for the 1st time this December. Pretty special. sos-steph-auntie

Jeannie Hall:
Definitely this one: became a published author!

Kathryn Jane (that’s me):

A laughter filled weekend spent with my sisters, and becoming a member of the TinyKittens team, which means I get to work with feral cats like Calvin.DSCN4452.JPG

Jacquie Biggar:

Making the USA Today, bestseller list with this set!


Marsha R. West:
My best memory is moving into the Lakehouse and waking up every morning to this phenomenal view that’s always changing. It’s like having a giant painting in front of my eyes and one that subtly changes. It’s very seductive. Easy to find myself just staring, but it’s also inspirational from a book writing perspective. Looking forward to many years here.

Sam Bradley w/a McKenna Sinclair:

I can relate to what many of you said. Like Steph, I really enjoyed getting together with you guys at RWA. (There was also the KOD presidency. Although I enjoyed it, it was way more work than I anticipated). Like Kat, I made a big move from California to Colorado. I love it here and it’s a great environment to follow my dream of being a (mostly) full time writer. The book I sat on for a very long time finally got published, then another. The third one is getting really to go up now and I’m working on #4. Progress! The best part is being involved with all of you!

Okay, now it’s your turn…  What is your favorite memory from 2016?

oh, and don’t forget to ENTER HERE for a chance to win a book prize happy-holiday-book-giveawayfromthe-sisterhood-of-suspense

Anticipation? or Suspense?

Anticipation: the action of anticipating something; expectation or prediction.

Suspense: a state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happen.


The line between the two terms is very fine. They almost intersect at some point. Yet the term “suspense” definitely carries a more ominous tone.

I pride myself as being a sister of the Sisterhood of Suspense. I write about people in situations where they are experiencing “anxious uncertainty.” The outcome could be bad. Yet, as potential love partners, they also feel a positive expectation. Hopeful uncertainty.

That’s what the holidays always hold for me. Hopeful uncertainty. I’m never sure of exactly how the days will play out: what there will be more of—smiles and laughter, or painful, reminiscent tears. Because that’s also what the holidays conjure up: memories of times past, when loved ones now lost are no longer able to participate in the festivities. Yet I hang onto the anticipation of joy in the revisiting of old traditions. There is a certain comfort there.


And so here I sit, on the threshold of a brand new year, a brand new, promising beginning. A chance to make resolutions for change. To start anew. To revive old dreams. To ignite enthusiasm for dreams still in their infancy.

This year ends for me with much anticipation, but also with some suspense. In recent months, a scary medical diagnoses has thrown my life across the threshold from anticipation to suspense: from hopeful expectation to anxious uncertainty. The “someday” I’ve always set my sights on has suddenly become hazy on the horizon. My own future, instead of lying hidden, hopeful, somewhere just beyond my line of vision, has zoomed frighteningly—possibly—closer.

But I remind myself: I am a writer of romantic suspense. Yes, there is anxiety, even trepidation in my stories that everything may not turn out alright. But as a romance writer, I know in my heart, there will be a happy ending. That’s the very definition of a romance. There will always, always, be a happy ending.


That’s the other thing I love about being an author—I have complete control over what happens just before those two little words: The End. So, I’m going to take advantage of my authorial license to declare, right here and now, that my story, as well as all my fictional stories, will end happily.

And you know what the other term for that sentiment is?





Claire Gem writes intensely emotional contemporary romantic suspense. You can find out more at her Website Amazon Author page.


Sneak Off and Read: Lines about CHRISTMAS, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about CHRISTMAS to celebrate the holiday. Enjoy!

Christmas Day dawned picture perfect in Woodstock, Vermont, thirty-two degrees with no wind as mid-morning, Jerrod trudged through the snow from his house to his mother’s. Smoke from fireplaces filled the air and tweaked his nose.

Marsha West

Sharon WrayRafe couldn’t remember the last time he celebrated Christmas. For the past five years he’d eaten Christmas dinner in prison, the three years prior to that he’d eaten in Hell.

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)

TemporarilyInsane_w10205_750 cover“If there is anything women world-wide adore, it’s flowers.”
“Any kind?”
“Any kind—except sprigs of holly. Save that one for Christmas. Nor poison ivy.”

Vicki Batman

As he steered Jill across the ice toward her mother, Silver Bells played over the speakers, and Joel smiled, for he’d already received his Christmas wish.

Jacquie Biggar

51ujnuq5lxlI work extra shifts to send my family money at Christmas. They need money more than they need me.

Sam Bradley w/a McKenna Sinclair

ASeasonforKillingBlondes_w9101_750 (2)“We could do a Christmas open house…Maybe plan a party with Santa or the Befana for needy children.”

Joanne Guidoccio

51f0w6i9bflChristmas had always been her favorite time of year, and this time it was supposed to snow. But now she might miss everything – how long were they going to keep her here?

Jeannie Hall

KathrynJane_DanceWithMe_800px“You missed Christmas again.”
“I’ll make it up to you.”
“I’m not so easily swayed by a fast roll in the hay anymore.”
“How about if I leave out the hay, and go really, really slow?”

Kathryn Jane

In the beginning, Naomi’s family coerced her to get on board with the crazy decorating competition. But after winning, she’d transformed into an obnoxious ring leader that barked out orders, shopped year round for unique holiday decorations, and turned their home into a Christmas command central.

S.A. Taylor
The Intervention (A Christmas Short Story)



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Rushing here. Rushing there. Where’s my list? Who gets what? How can we afford it? Will everyone have a good time at the party? Will they like the punch? Will we have enough food? Are my decorations as good as my neighbors?

 fullsizerender-2 img_4703

And on and on, the questions plague those of us caught up in the holidaze.

In reality, this was me as a young mom. Not so much now as a retired elementary school principal and romantic suspense author. In the past, I found the holidays stressful beyond belief. I wish my younger self had been not so much a perfectionist. I wish I’d been able to just let go and enjoy the family and friends without all the stress of getting it perfect.

Here’s my mother’s Champagne Punch Recipe.


1 Batch

1 6 oz can frozen orange juice

1 cup lemon juice

2 ½ cups cranberry juice

2 ½ cups pineapple juice

1 cup Sugar. (I omit)

Mix and put in frig for a few hours

Just before serving, add:

1 Qt. Gingerale

3/5ths Champagne (think that’s one bottle)

I usually double the recipe.  (You can serve it without the Champagne.)

It’s only through maturity I’ve learned the value of “good enough.” That doesn’t mean you slack off and give only partial effort at the task. But it means learning that most things will not be perfect. They may be nice, wonderful, exciting without being perfect, and that is good enough.

It’s kind of like with our books. I don’t believe there are any published books that don’t have “errors” either of the grammar or spacing kind. Then we all know one more swipe through will improve it. But tweaking it just one more time may just be our reaching for a perfection that doesn’t exist.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in editing. I want lots of people’s eyes on my work before it gets “born.” And it’s frustrating when each time a pair of eyes look at my words, something else appears. Maybe it’s only tiny, but still. You have to come to a “good enough.” Let the darling go and begin the next book.

If you’re feeling really frazzled this season, look at the things you’re expecting yourself to do. Just because your mother baked that cake, do you need to? Just because you’ve always had the big Christmas Day dinner at your house, maybe you could change it up? Do a buffet where everyone brings something. Draw names instead of getting something for everyone.

One of my good friends who I always buy a Santa for, said this year let’s not give gifts. We really don’t need any more stuff. I was glad to do that. So far, I hadn’t been able to find the Santa that was “perfect.” But I do have a small jar of scrumptious Wild Maine Blueberry Jam for many friends including her this year. Made in America. Not expensive. You can eat it and recycle the jar. No accumulation of more stuff. The perfect gift.  img_4807

LOL Okay, so it’s a little backslide.

For many of us, we’re at the point we’re able to get what we need, when we need it, throughout the year. If you know people who aren’t like that, lend a helping hand. This is a great time to send money to your favorite charity or two. Generally, this holiday is all about family and friends. If you’re not near loved ones, consider volunteering at a soup kitchen or shelter.

However you celebrate, I hope you’ll slow down, cut yourself some slack, and make it a Good Enough Holiday.

Christmas at my house

I’ve spent all week finishing the day job for the year and wondering what to write in this post. I’ve spent all day running errands, finishing shopping, and wondering what to write in this post. I’ve finally written a post that is WAY too depressing for the holiday. I’ve put it in the trash.

Every year, I think, “This is the year I get in the holiday spirit. We’re going to have a tree and a party. I’m going to wrap presents, make candy, and play Christmas music. I’m going to decorate outside, and have lights …”

Instead, this is what my poor husband, Mr. Perfect, has to deal with at Christmas.

  1. MP: “Do we have a wreath?”
    Me: “Ummm. Yes? Somewhere in the basement, maybe?” Digs around under boxes and finds one. “Here. Just unsquish it a little. It’ll be fine.”
  1. MP: “Do we have Christmas cards ? We need to send some.”
    Me: “I think I bought some on sale last year. Didn’t I give them to you? Do you need stamps?”
  1. MP: “What about a tree? Nevermind, I’ll get the little tea-light tree out from last year.”
  2. Me: “What’s this CD on your desk?”
    MP: “Merry Christmas.”
    Me: “Is this a new coffee cup in the dishwasher?”
    MP: “Well, I was trying to hide it to keep you from finding it like you did the CD. Merry Christmas.”
  1. Me: “I  have your Christmas present in the trunk. Will you help me carry it upstairs?”
  2. MP: “Do you want to watch the Military Channel or the Hallmark Channel?”
    Me: “Military Channel, please.”
  1. MP: “What are we getting …”
    Me: “Don’t worry. I have a list. Everything’s on the way from Amazon already wrapped and shipped to Mom’s. We’re good.”
  1. MP: “I have to work on Christmas. Will you be okay by yourself?”
    Me: “Don’t worry. I’ve got a frozen pizza and a few chapters to write.”

I have the most understanding, Christmas loving, husband in the world (and a new Christmas wreath). He is my best present every year. Sometimes, when the holiday gets the best of me, or when writing gets the best of me, it’s great to remember that.

Whatever you do on this holiday, I hope you spend time with people who love you just the way you are. And I hope you have time to read a good book.

Mia Kay - thumbnailMerry Christmas!


Find me at:

Sneak Off and Read: Lines about FAMILY, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about FAMILY to start your week. Enjoy!

STaylor photoThe family of three sat together, their smiles glowing brighter than the golden sun backlighting the photo. She’d never seen that kind of happiness on Max’s face, not in a long time.

S.A. Taylor
Shutter (work in progress)

“Mom has grandchildren. She doesn’t need Pete or me to pro­duce any more. Okay, enough about my personal life, I’ve got a rehearsal to run.”

Marsha West

Sharon WrayRafe put on his leather jacket and covered the tattoos on his arms. He’d rather die of heat stroke than start another argument with his father.

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)

TemporarilyInsane_w10205_750 coverApparently, Mom’s ultimate goal was to raise a whole flock of accountants. Only God knew why because the accounting gene didn’t run historically in our family tree.

Vicki Batman

“You know that’s not going to happen,” Lucas said, landing next to him. “Your family will always be your family. Love is magical that way.”

Jacquie Biggar

51ujnuq5lxlHer family was large and warm. Secrets were unnecessary, and laughter was commonplace.

Sam Bradley w/a McKenna Sinclair

HUL.CoverFinalKate could only imagine what Marco’s family was thinking. A complete stranger commanding their precious son/brother/grandson’s affectionate attention.

Claire Gem

ASeasonforKillingBlondes_w9101_750 (2)I was fortunate to have family and relatives who would drop everything to help me through this nightmare. And what a nightmare it was turning out to be.

Joanne Guidoccio

KathrynJane_DanceWithMe_800pxWhen James was here, did he always assume control? Or did the matriarch of the family continue calling the shots?

Kathryn Jane



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A Holiday Break

season-of-promises-cover    Every year, I travel to a small town with friends for a weekend of girl-time (clarification-without husbands). You know the kind—where we hash out our problems, catch up on our families, delve into what’s new, discuss books we’ve read, where we’ve traveled. Life stuff.

But we go to this specific town for the Christmas Candlelight Home Tour. Many of the homes predate the 1850s and are designated historical by the state. The Historical Foundation picks four homes which are decorated with natural elements like cedar, magnolia, fruit, nuts. There’s also period ornaments and decorations, music, and candles. Docents point out items of interest and tell us facts about the homes. Some of the churches present choir performances. The Foundation sells Christmas trees as a img_00000246fundraiser. The trees are set up in the park and decorated.

After our traditional Italian dinner, we tour the homes and debate over which is best. Usually, we find something to like at each one. We return to our B&B, dress in our jammies, and share gifts. There’s lots of laughter and oohs and aahs. The next day, we shop at the various small stores and antique malls. Dinner at a fabulous restaurant follows. This year, we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life,” too.

I have written a lot of Christmas stories. Some were published in the True magazines. Others with another publisher. Over the last three years, my holiday stories have appeared in the Season of Magic, Season of Surprises, and Season of Promises. I’ve been inspired by ribbon candy, Grandmother’s tomato cake (anyone want the recipe?), family ornaments, and the fragrance of Christmas trees. Grumpy Grandpas, klutzy architect, a reformed high schooler turned attorney, a pretend plumber, and scam artists faking their way through a holiday baking contest. I take in the lights, the colors, the sounds, the smells and apply to my work. That makes it real. It’s easy to be inspired when the season surrounds one.

So I’m sharing three photos from the Foundation’s tree display. When you look them over, what do you see? What do you feel? Do you smell the tree’s fragrance? Are you ready for Christmas?




And don’t forget:


Sneak Off and Read: Lines about SHOPPING, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about SHOPPING to start your week. Enjoy!

KathrynJane_DanceWithMe_800pxThey toured about a dozen thrift shops, him holding up the ugliest dresses he could find to make her laugh while he painstakingly combed through the racks for one she didn’t hate.

Kathryn Jane

STaylor photoKelli glanced up from the row of toys and straight into her sister’s contorted smile, obviously trying to hide the amusement of this awkward situation.

S.A. Taylor
A Step Too Close  (work in progress)

During the trip to the store, Josh appeared to be auditioning for a part as the romantic interest in her old soap. One time in the frozen food section, he went far enough to steal a kiss, much to the enjoyment of two old ladies passing by.


Marsha West

Sharon WrayCalum had taken Rafe to the tailor where he’d been poked and prodded in a way the Army had never done. And, for a reason known only to God and His angels, Calum ordered a tuxedo.

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)

TemporarilyInsane_w10205_750 cover“Think of all the shopping damage you could do.” I could do excessive amounts of shopping damage with the kind of money she’d mentioned.

Vicki Batman

A couple hours later Jill came skipping into the store, delighting a couple of seniors shopping for gifts. “Is it time yet?”

Jacquie Biggar

51ujnuq5lxlThe homes, shopping centers and the fire station were fairly new. Not a bad place for a probie to be assigned.

Sam Bradley w/a McKenna Sinclair

ASeasonforKillingBlondes_w9101_750 (2)Sofia visited every nook and corner of the store and ended up buying a cart full of bargains.

Joanne Guidoccio



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Mingling with my Peers

Hi, I’m Kathryn Jane, and I loathe self-promotion. Hate screaming at thin air, Buy My Book!

But we all have to do stuff we don’t love, so it’s nice when I can turn what is usually a negative experience, into a positive.  How pray tell, does one do that?

Well, for me, it was by joining forces with like-minded souls. Authors who like me, write about couples no longer wet behind the ears. (That idiom puzzles me, but…)

I’ve teamed up with a group of authors who write Seasoned Romance, and we’ve all put one of our books on sale for just 99 cents, and created a fun Facebook Hop, so you can win tons of prizes.

See? Now I can shout about everyone else’s great books, and a fantastic sale, without feeling nearly as self-conscious. I can happily send you over to our Facebook event page, where you’ll  find twenty plus books to choose from, yep, all at just 99 cents. seasoned-romance-event

There. Nearly painless promotion! Oh, yeah, click here to get to my Facebook page to get started. I hope you have fun, and win big!


James and Julia weren’t born yesterday,
or the day before that.
They’ve lived, and they’ve loved, and they want their marriage back. But there’s just one more mission. A corrupt FBI agent to be stopped. And who knows where that will end?



Enter the Sisterhood of Suspense’s Rafflecopter #Giveaway for your chance at some page-turning reads!  ENTER HERE

Takeaways from #NaNoWriMo 2016

When I started my NaNoWriMo project, I had mixed feelings. While I listened and nodded when the other GuelphWriMos spoke of 5K-word spurts and pulling all-nighters to achieve the ultimate goal of 50K words, I decided to be more realistic.

A linear pantser, I preferred to write sporadically, at most 1K words a day. My highest monthly count was 20K words.

Could I possibly make the leap from 20K words to 50K words and produce a “reasonable” first draft of A Different Kind of Reunion? And would I be able to write without stopping to edit the “hot mess” that would inevitably appear before me each day?

Just in case..I set my own private “hair” goals, a habit I had acquired after reading an inspirational column in The Globe and Mail.

Pixie Cut Goal — 30K words

Pageboy Goal — 40K words

Big Hairy Audacious Goal – 50K Words

bighairyTo my delight and astonishment, I wrote each day and achieved a final goal of 50,940 words, an average of 1,698 words per day.

Here are my takeaways from NaNoWriMo 2016…

  • I can stretch and write more than 1K words each day. In fact, on several days I wrote well over 2K words. Writing at specific times each day definitely helped. So did writing in split shifts. If I had limited time in the morning, I wouldn’t fret. Instead, I would write anywhere from 200 to 500 words and complete the rest in the evening before the midnight hour.
  • Planning ahead kept me on track throughout the month. In October, I created a chapter-by-chapter outline and character descriptions for A Different Kind of Reunion. Whenever I wavered, I would refer to my notes and return to the manuscript.
  • Rewards motivate me. And they don’t necessarily have to be tangible items. While I did purchase a journal at the 10K benchmark, I rewarded myself with experiences—Craft Shows—at the 20K and 30K benchmarks. At the 40K benchmark, I took advantage of Black Friday sales and purchased clothes. When I passed the 50K mark, I ordered my NaNoWriMo Winner t-shirt, and the universe rewarded me with a free psychic reading.
  • My well-honed left brain (I’m a math major) loves graphs and statistics. Each day, I looked forward to seeing my linear graph rise even higher on the my NaNoWriMo dashboard. And I appreciated the badges (4 Participation, 10 Writing, 7 Personal Achievement) I received throughout the month.
  • Sharing each step made me accountable. Friends—online and IRL—complimented and encouraged me along the way. Special thanks to my NaNo buddies, especially Peggy Jaeger and Cindy Carroll, and good friend Magda V, who honored my final achievement with a lovely card and assortment of David’s Teas.
  • I fell in love with the “hot mess” of 50,940 words and resisted any urges to edit along the way. In fact, I’ll have to wait until I fall out of love before starting the first round of edits.
  • Ideas are percolating for NaNoWriMo 2017—The Missing Gigolo, Book 4 of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series.



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 Where to find Joanne  Guidoccio…

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