The Christmas Letters series

Back in 2022, I bought a pre-made book cover from Covers & Cupcakes LLC.

I had no idea what I’d do with it. but the image of a snowy mailbox with mountains behind it just spoke to me.

I started thinking about that cover, and a storyline about a woman who was a Santa expert came to mind.

Then I started thinking about letters. Actual, in-the-mail, hold-in-my-hand letters. Hardly anyone takes takes the time to write a pen to paper letter these days. In fact, I’ve had several friends mention how much they miss receiving letters.

So, that got me thinking about how special and meaningful a hand written letter can be.

And I started thinking about a series of stories that begin with a letter.

The cover I originally bought became the cover for the first book in my new Christmas Letters sweet and wholesome contemporary romance series.

And the idea for the Santa expert story became the third book, which I wrote last, because the second book and fourth books are about cousins, so I wrote those together in an effort to keep as much consistency between the books. (And that wasn’t confusing at all!)

Christmas Letters is a series about four friends, all experts on something related to Christmas, and their journeys to finding love.

He can’t save Christmas, but he can save her tree farm.

Dr. Jaxon Frost, a highly regarded authority on Christmas trees, is known nationwide for his expertise in the field. Preferring solitude, he dedicates his life to his work. However, his routine is interrupted when he receives an unexpected letter from Holly Crest Tree Farms, seeking his assistance in identifying a disease affecting their Christmas trees. Jaxon heads to the farm and is caught completely by surprise to find the owner isn’t a crusty old farmer, but a beautiful woman who captures his interest and admiration. He will do anything to help Jaylyn save her trees, even at the risk of losing his heart.

Jaylyn Smith carries the weight of immense responsibility as the owner and manager for Holly Crest Tree Farm, a family-owned business passed down through four generations. The fate of their cherished legacy, symbolized by their beautiful Christmas trees, rests solely on her shoulders. When she can’t identify a disease attacking a section of trees, she reaches out to an expert for help. Jaxon Frost is nothing like she expected, but everything her heart has been longing for.

Will their collective efforts salvage the valued heritage of her family?

Discover the answer in Dear Mister Frost, a heartwarming and sweet holiday romance that exudes warmth, laughter, and the joy of the festive Christmas season.

He can’t create a miracle,  but he can give the gift of love

 When heirloom ornament maker Sam Silver receives Erika Esposito’s heartfelt letter, he is deeply moved by her plea for a special ornament for her dying son, Joey. Despite having shut himself off from the world due to his own personal trauma, Sam feels compelled to step out of his shell to help Erika and Joey.

Erika, who has already experienced a profound loss with the unexpected death of her husband, is desperate to bring some joy into Joey’s life as he battles cancer. She reaches out to Sam, unaware that her plea will bring not only hope but also the possibility of finding love again.

Rich in Christmas spirit, Dear Mister Silver offers a tender and heartwarming holiday romance. Sam’s journey as Ornament Guy, crafting heirloom ornaments as a way to rebuild his life, takes on a whole new meaning as he pours his heart into creating a special ornament for Joey. Through his efforts, Sam not only brings joy to a little boy but also discovers the wonder of opening his heart to love.

Filled with warmth and touching moments, this story reminds readers of the magic that shimmers in acts of kindness, and how love and hope can be the greatest gifts of the holiday season.

 

She’s striving for success, not searching for romance

 Lyra Nicholas is a renowned expert on all things related to jolly old Saint Nick. When she receives a letter from Tucker Lee, a rancher in a small Oregon town, she hesitates to consider his request to help his sister with a museum exhibit. But something in the note intrigues her, and she soon finds herself in The Dalles, preparing for a grand Santa installation. Then she meets Tucker and finds herself falling love.

Tucker Lee will do anything for his sister even if it means groveling to a snooty Santa expert to set up an exhibit at the museum Remi manages. Expecting an old, dowdy female, Tucker is taken aback when he meets Lyra, a beautiful young woman who makes him realize there may be more to life than running his ranch.

As they work together to make the exhibit a success, sparks dance between them like twinkling tree lights.

The essence of Christmas, the joy of family, delightful humor, and heartfelt emotions take center stage in Dear Miss Nicholas, a wholesome and uplifting holiday romance.

 

She’s not about to give him a second chance, even when it comes to love

Halston Baker’s career took a nosedive when she crossed paths with Kutter Hayes five years ago. Now, Halston has rebuilt her life and found success as a gingerbread house designer. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase her skills at a Las Vegas resort with a life-size gingerbread village. Little does she know that Kutter, the man who turned her life upside down, is also in town for the finals rodeo. Despite her head shouting at her to stay far away from the troublesome cowboy, her heart has other plans.

Kutter has his own plans and ambitions for his career as a stock contractor and not a single one of them involve fiery, feisty Halston. She blames him for ruining her dreams, and is as prickly as his grandmother’s pin cushion. But as Kutter spends more time with Halston, he realizes there is far more to the fascinating woman than her ability to create amazing gingerbread houses.

As the magic of the holiday season wraps around them, Halston and Kutter must decide whether to follow their hearts and pursue love or step away from what might be their chance at a happily ever after.

Dear Miss Baker is a treat for the senses, combing the flavors of the season with the joys only Christmas and first love can bring in a wholesome holiday romance.

What about you?

Do you like to receive or write letters?

What’s the most meaningful letter or note you’ve ever received?

Or who would you like to receive a letter from?

Share your answer in the comments for a chance to win a digital set of all four books!

Winter Holiday Movies and Winter Realities

This holiday season I treated myself to watching a lot of Christmas romance movies. While I enjoyed the stories and loved the characters, I struggled to suspend my disbelief in the outdoor winter scenes.

In many of the movies—even those where a snowstorm closed airports, roads, and towns—the characters headed outside in below freezing temperatures wearing a light winter coat hanging open. They rarely wore mittens, boots or hats, and their scarves were merely stylish accessories.

Movie image

What would the reality be? I’ll simply say when I attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, we called the open center of campus Little Siberia. To walk across campus, I wore two pairs of wool socks, hiking boots, long underwear, jeans, a turtleneck under a wool sweater, under a wool blazer and a down coat. Under my hood, I pulled my hat down to my eyebrows and wrapped my scarf over my nose.

realistic image

In one movie, despite conditions like above, the town managed to plow Main Street for the Christmas parade. Because other roads were impassable, the entire town walked to the event dressed more for October weather. One girl in the crowd wore nothing more than a knitted poncho with bare arms visible as she waved to those on vehicles easily navigating the freshly plowed street. In reality, the street wouldn’t have been plowed and if it had, the city still would’ve cancelled the parade.

More realistic image

In many movies, the couple have had conversations outside. Often the heroine wore a strapless ball gown or cocktail dress, but the hero generously offered his tux/suit jacket to keep her warm. The couple finish their discussion, usually involving a big emotional reveal, and share a romantic kiss. Really? In reality, after two minutes tops they’d be charging inside or turning into well-dressed icicles.

Another thing I found odd that pulled me out of the story was everyone drinking hot cocoa and no one asking for coffee. How often in a coffee or donut shop do you see anyone over twelve order hot chocolate rather than coffee? In addition, when the characters wandered into the kitchen because they couldn’t sleep and ran into each other, they drank hot cocoa, chatted, and shared a romantic moment. Don’t get me wrong. Give me a cup with a peppermint stick and a dollop of real whip cream and call me happy. But in the real world, if I had hot chocolate in the cupboard, chances are it’s expired or dried into a hard clump.

Movie hot chocolate
What we might have available.

I found myself developing a holiday decorating inferiority complex because every house inside and out looked as if the owners hired a professional decorator. The reality? Who knows how long it took the set director and crew to accomplish the task. For me, even if I started in September with an unlimited budget, I wouldn’t obtain those results by Christmas. And don’t get me started on stories where a Christmas shop provided the character’s sole income. No wonder she was having financial troubles.

Okay, I know they were movies, not documentaries. Maybe I had trouble suspending my disbelief because authors rarely get away with tweaking reality that much and my last novel, Aiming for His Heart, was set in winter. I considered how would my characters get around if the roads were closed. What would they eat? How long would they be cut off from the world?

Would I give up a moment of watching any of the movies? No way. But while I enjoyed these movies, I couldn’t help but think, would it hurt the story and destroy the mood for characters to wear hats (okay my cover heroine doesn’t have one, oops), gloves, and decent boots and for the character who adores Christmas to own a store that sells other items during the year?

What do you think ab0ut Christmas romance movies? What’s your favorite thing or your pet peeve about them? 

Christmas Decor Crawl — Karen Kay

Howdy!

Because we spend our Christmas’s with my daughters and family, I thought I’d take you through some Christmas’s past.  Here we see one Christmas when we got snowed in.  This is a picture I snapped when my husband and our faithful dog, Wolf, were shoveling our deck.

This next picture is one where we were all being serenaded by my then four year old grandson.

These next pictures are more recent.  Here we have both of the grandchildren looking at the Christmas tree and all its decorations prior to going to bed.  This is one I particularly like.

And here we have the night before Christmas — before Santa’s arrival.

And now, I’d love to tell you the most recent story of the school’s Christmas concert.  The children of course did most of the singing, but occasionally the music director had people from the audience sing.  To the song of Jingle Bells, my grandson had a solo, while my granddaughter was singing do-op in the background with a few other girls.  A little backstory, my grandson plays a lot of baseball.  So, during my grandson’s solo, something was wrong with the mic and it fell down.  Without missing a beat or stanza of the song, my grandson caught the mic mid air and continued the song as though nothing had happened.  I got a few pictures and I’d love to share them with you.

First we have the girl do-op group.

 

And next we have my grandson singing.  That’s one of my daughter’s playing piano in the background.

 

Well, I hope you have enjoyed the blog today.  Although it wasn’t quite a Christmas crawl through my house, it was a “crawl” through some very wonderful Christmas’s of the past, including this year’s wonderful Christmas concert.

And now that the rush is over, I can finally relax…well, at least a little.

From our home to yours, we hope your New Year will be filled with happiness and good cheer!

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Decor Crawl ~ Linda Broday

One of the things I love about Christmas is the beautiful colors and decorations. For various reasons, I don’t put a Christmas tree up any longer but I love pretty wreaths and always have one on my door and several on my walls.

I wondered what wreaths signify and found some surprising and not so surprising facts. Wreaths originated in ancient times and the tradition of displaying them for Christmas is still evident everywhere you turn. It means that you’re inviting the spirit of Christmas into your home and are a symbol of good luck for the occupants.

But wreaths were used for various other things. In ancient Rome, they symbolized victory following competitions. Some were worn on the head. Wreaths are also hung on doors following a death and symbolize the circle of eternal life and victory of the eternal spirit over death. In Christianity, a wreath of thorns was placed on our Savior’s head as a mockery to believers.

This is the wreath I have hanging on my front door.

I also have two small ones I made myself hanging on my wall.

My Little Reindeer guarding my door and my boot centerpiece.

                                                   

And this was taken of me on Christmas 1953 with my new doll, stroller, and phone.

Mama really had fixed my hair. Sure wasn’t me.

Even if you don’t put up a tree, do you decorate your house? I’d like to hear your traditions if you have any.

Happy Holidays to all

Linda Broday

Merry Christmas! And Winners for Karen Kay’s e-book

Howdy!

Gosh, I can’t tell y’all enough about how much I enjoyed our conversations yesterday!  Thank you all for coming to the blog.

Now, because it is Christmas and it is the season of giving, I am giving everyone who came to the blog yesterday, and who left a message a free e-book of my newest 25th Year Anniversary book.  All you have to do is email me privately at karenkay.author@startmail.com in order to get your book to you.

This includes, Denise, Ami  J., Tracey D., Rhonda P., Kathleen O, Pam H., Colleen C., Kim H., Barbara R. Judy S., Cherie J. and BN.

Thank you so much for a delightful day yesterday.  I very much loved talking to y’all yesterday and in my small way, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

 

Music! Music! The Gift of Christmas Music!

Howdy!  Howdy!

Since it is the season of giving, I’ll be giving away two e-books of the new release of the 25th year anniversary edition of WAR CLOUD’S PASSION.  Just leave a comment to enter into the drawing.

Because one of my favorite memories of the Christmas season is story telling, I thought I’d tell you a recent Christmas story.

And so here we go — a Christmas story:

About 10 years ago, my daughter had asked me if my husband and I might consider relocating to the East so we could be closer.  She specifically asked if I might help her by becoming a nanny for her daughter.  My granddaughter was then two years old and my daughter was pregnant with her son…my grandson.  Of course, my husband and I decided this is what we should do.  So in 2013, I came to the East to help my daughter and to become my granddaughter’s “nanny.”  (My husband came a little later, in 2014.)

Anyway, a year went by and I loved being with my granddaughter day in and day out — and we went to the local toy story a lot.  At least once a week.  It was a beautiful store and friendly and always had lots of new toys.  The 2013 Christmas season came and my grandson was born only a few months previous to Christmas and so, with my daughter being home, recovering from giving birth, I was spending even more time with my granddaughter.

One day we were in a toy store and I saw a book of karaoke sing along Christmas songs, meant to be sung in the car.  It contained a CD disk and at least three different song books, as well a book full of information about the various songs and the words.

I couldn’t believe my luck.  I bought two of them and I’m glad I did.

We sang and we sang and I think my granddaughter’s favorite song was Jingle Bells (of course).  My husband was yet to join us in the east and so I was with my granddaughter a lot and we sang and sang and sang as we drove to various places (parks and museums, etc.)

A year went by and my grandson was now one by the next Christmas and my granddaughter was four.  She was in school, but the school was a 45 minute drive away and my grandson did NOT like car rides…at all.

Well, I discovered that one particular Christmas song from this sing along CD would sooth his utter dislike of car rides.  Can you guess what the song was?  It is probably one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written, and although it is usually sung at Christmas, it was actually written to be sung to celebrate Easter.

Do you know what it is?

It is The Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.

This beautiful music kept my grandson from whatever it was that caused him to dislike car rides so much.  He would listen for the entire car ride, which was really something considering he was only a year old.

Gosh, we must have played the song all the way over to where my granddaughter was going to school and all the way back home again.  My granddaughter and I soon memorized the words and sang and sang and sang it.

Well, once again, time has gone by and with all the activities both the grandchildren are in nowadays, we seem to be in the car again…a lot.

So it was that only two or three nights ago, as we were driving home, we had on the same karaoke CD and Handel’s Messiah was playing.  We were all singing along loud and strong.  My daughter knows the harmony and the rest of us sang the “melody,” which often changes here and there as I’m sure y’all know.  It was one of those moments for me — one of those pleasant times when “all was right with the world.”  Even though it was only a brief moment when time seemed to stop temporarily, it was beautiful.

And so in honor of this extraordinarily beautiful piece of music, I thought I’d include a sing along.  So I hope y’all will have a wonderful time enjoying and singing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.  Oh, my goodness!  There’s one of the fillies singing right along.  Hope you’ll join in with her.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nV2Q-eNqMY

Did you do it?  Did you sing along?  I did and I hope you enjoyed singing along, too.

And so now a little about this 25th Year Anniversary Edition of War Cloud’s Passion.  When we do these anniversary books, we freshly edit the book, which is another full edit.  We put a new cover on the book which is a little more up-to-date, and additionally, putting these out again brings the original map (drawn by my then teenage daughter) back in the book, along with the original poster.

Here’s a short blurb of the book:

The Orphan Trains .Anna’s act of kindness to War Cloud’s kidnapped brother has saved the orphans lives. War Cloud, who led the attack upon their train, is enraged because honor demands he lead them to safety. But as passion grows, War Cloud must resist Anna’s charm because a curse hangs over his family, endangering them all should he fall in love.

tinyurl.com/warcloudspassion

Hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll tell me some of your favorite Christmas songs and memories.

 

 

 

 

To Trend or Not to Trend

 

As I pulled out my eclectic Christmas decorations this year, I wondered what trends were hot this year. Of course, now distracted, I turned to Google to find out. Here’s what I discovered.

Click here to go to article

According to a Better Homes and Gardens article, (click here to read) this year’s all the rage color schemes are jewel tones, “Crisp” blue (whatever that is), pastels, and “wintery” white. (I’m always amazed that there are variations of white.) I love the idea of jewel colors. Deep maroon, emerald green, and deep purple with gold always say Christmas to me, but I’m not sure about the pastels. Another trend I saw multiple places was “natural” ornaments and “organic” greenery. Basically this is a fancy way of pinecones, oranges, cranberries, and real greenery or bringing the outside in.

Click here to go to article.

Another article (click here to read) I found said to have a theme for a tree and decorations. It listed hot trends such as nutcracker, retro glam, pink Christmas Candyland (pastels again), gingerbread, and “mixed metals.” While they all look beautiful, and I would love to decorate with some of these (except for the pastels ?), two things keep me from doing so. One is the cost. Buying new decorations and ornaments is not in my Christmas budget. Plus, trends change so fast this year’s great décor becomes next year’s so over it trend. As to what’s out, I read mentioned ornate décor, tree skirts (we should replace them with a tree collar. See the picture below), traditional red and green. For me, that last one is never out of style.

A tree collar means using a basket, washtub, or something else for the tree to sit in.

The other reason I don’t want to replace my decorations and ornaments is because they mean something to me. It’s usually because of who gave the item to me and/or because of the event associated with it. I have “our first Christmas together” ornaments friends and family gave me and my husband. I gave my husband a little porcelain plane ornament. Every year when I see it, I envision him holding each of our sons as toddlers and them flying the plane around the living room before hanging the ornament on the tree. My bff Lori gave me a suitcase that says Australia ornament. That’s one of my favorites because when she or I have a bad day, we often joke about moving to Australia because of the children’s book Alex and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

One solution would be to have multiple trees. I started doing that a couple years ago, adding two table-top trees, but again, I went with ornaments that had an emotional connection. in the kitchen and family room. The one in the kitchen has Peanuts ornaments which I collected for years, but hadn’t put on the main tree for lack of space. The other tree has ornaments I’ve made to hold dog tags from our foster dogs.

So despite admiring all the wonderful magazine suggestions for decorations, this year I’ll stick with my eclectic-memory-filled items and save some cash.

To be entered in the random drawing for the long sleeve Merry Christmas T-shirt, leave a comment about your favorite Christmas decoration, ornament, trend, or what trend drives you crazy.

10 years of Cowboys & Christmas

 

Tomorrow is a big day for me.

It’s the 10th annual Cowboys & Christmas Celebration on Facebook – a party that gives me an excuse to have a day of fun with my author and reader friends while raising funds and awareness for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.

Ten years.

When I hosted the first party, I never imagined it would turn into an annual event. But it has, and I’m so glad!

It all started with a trip Captain Cavedweller and I took to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

We were at the airport, waiting to catch our flight home, and I noticed there were a lot of other rodeo attendees waiting to go home as well. The airport was a sea of cowboy hats!

As we sat there, I started thinking about how fun it would be for a rodeo cowboy to meet an uptight business executive at the airport and fall in love.

By the time we landed, The Christmas Cowboy, the first book in the Rodeo Romance series, was already taking shape.

After I began writing the story, though, I wanted to know how much care an injured rodeo cowboy would receive right there at the rodeo arena before they sent him to the hospital.

In the story, the hero is a saddle bronc rider named Tate who sustains an injury at a rodeo. In an attempt to get my facts straight for the story, I reached out to the Justin Sportsmedicine Team®. Through mobile medical centers, they provide care at more than 125 PRCA rodeos annually. Their responses to my questions were extremely helpful and I was so impressed with them, I wanted to do a little something in return.

That’s when I learned about the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.

Most rodeo athletes aren’t able to get insurance because it isn’t a matter of “if” they get hurt but “when.” Because of that, when they sustain injuries that leave them unable to compete (and earn money) for an extended time, it can leave them in a financially challenging situation.

That’s where the JCCF comes in. They give a hand up to those athletes, helping them cover their bills so they can focus on healing.  The other wonderful thing about the JCCF is that 100 percent of all donations go into the fund.

In 2013, I launched a campaign to donate a portion of my book sales to the JCCF during the month of December and held the first party to help spread the word.

In 2015, I added the month of November to my promotion, giving two months to raise funds for JCCF. Then I extended the promotion period for my Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign to October 1!

So from October 1 through December 24, ten percent of the net proceeds from all my book sales (eBook, paperback, hardback, and audio all count!) will be donated to the JCCF.

I hope to see you at the party tomorrow! The fun begins at 10 a.m. (Pacific Time: 11 a.m. MT, Noon CT, 1 p.m. ET). Join the party by clicking the button below. It will be a day full of connecting with some of your favorite authors, games, giveaways, and more!

And if Facebook parties aren’t your thing, you can still support the Read A Book, Help A Cowboy campaign through every book you purchase between now and Christmas Eve.

In fact, I have a brand new book coming November 30 in the Rodeo Romance series!

Will an innocent offer of help lead two obstinate hearts along the road to love?

Truitt Lucas is the guy who brings laughter wherever he goes and refuses to take life too seriously. Beneath his carefree exterior, though, he yearns for more adventure and excitement than he’ll find working on the family ranch alongside his cousin and grandmother. When the opportunity arises to assist a trick rider, Truitt eagerly lends a hand. However, he soon finds himself drawn to the perplexing woman who barely tolerates him.

Jolee Judson is living her dream as a trick rider on the rodeo circuit, using her lifelong passion for horses and gymnastics to wow the crowds. But when her partner unexpectedly abandons her, Jolee is just desperate enough to accept a good-natured cowboy’s offer to help. Fascinated and infuriated by Truitt and his shenanigans, Jolee struggles against her growing feelings for him. Falling for Truitt could spell disaster for her future and derail everything she’s worked for.

Can the two of them find common ground where trust is earned and love becomes a cherished gift?

A sweet holiday novel full of the magic of Christmas, Tricking Christmas brims with small-town humor, heartwarming moments, and wholesome romance..

If you were hosting a holiday party,

and could invite anyone,

who would you like to attend?
Post your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of the first three books in the Rodeo Romance series!