All right, I’m thankful for my husband, son, my home, my friends, my family, the writing community that always helped me, and my readers. I know I’m lucky beyond words, and not one day goes by without me recognizing it.
Now that we’ve taken away all the more-than-valid things and people I’m thankful for, because really, of course I am, let’s take the topic to a different level, the silly-and-light one I’m so fond of.
I crown myself Queen of that level, my friends, and I wear my tiara with pride.
You know what I’m thankful for?
People who make me laugh.
As usual, let me start from the top of this and work my way through.
I’m an artist. It comes with many, many, MANY mood swings.
Sometimes, when a story needs it (and I resent it for it), I specifically look for ways to bum out, or downright depress, myself. I need to feel sorrow to put in on paper. If I feel the heartbreak, the pain, I can describe it better. If I touch that gloom, I’ll understand what my characters are going through.
And that’s when I commit emotional suicide.
The Recipe for it include different ingredients that, used together or as single units, get me there, guaranteed.
Soldiers reuniting with their family (don’t even let me started on widows ‘cause I’ll lose it right here and now).
Babies who hear their mom’s voice for the first time thanks to a medical supply.
Random acts of goodness that change a stranger’s life.
It’s not what I see that gets the job done. In a way, all those are happy things (not the widows, clearly). But all the others are good. The baby hears. The Army man or woman is back with his/her family. You see, it’s everything that hides in the background that breaks my heart. All the phone calls from the station, all the visits at the doctor’s office, all the pain of the stranger who only needed a hug.
Along with my heart, they break the dam, and the waterworks are on.
Other times I’m just in a mood for whatever reason. Sometimes there’s not even a real reason.
In any case, at some point, I need to get a grip. I need a laugh.
An old-fashion, honest, loud laugh.
One of those that make your abs hurt (just a little note here: if your abs hurt for a laugh, then you’re like me and we need to hit the gym, sister).
I have a recipe for it, too, and this is the only time I’m thankful for social media (see what I’ve done here? Another thing I’m thankful for).
I have amassed a collection of FB video follows, or whatever those are called, Instagram accounts, and YouTube channels of people who make me laugh.
A show on FB called Dry Comedy. Jimmy Fallon’s hashtags. The Funny Introvert on Instagram.
When it’s very bad and I need something stronger, I hit Zoolander, School of Rock, or Rock of Ages.
And if the world is not a better place my mood is decent, if not sparkly.
So that’s what I’m thankful for. That in the midst of all the negativity surrounding us on a daily basis, there’s still an army of good folks that have one objective: make you happy.
Because at the end of the day, the only way out of this crap, of any crap, is a laugh.
Crescent Creek Series
Excerpt from Painted Love
Thou shalt not steal.
Oh, but Florence had, and would do so one last time.
Ten pieces her grandfather painted for her because he loved her.
Ten pieces her mother lost, along with anything else, for loving the wrong man.
She couldn’t get back everything he’d wasted away, but she’d be damned if she’d give up those paintings.
Easy and genuine, Rhett loves his life–his family, his market, his town. Until he meets a British woman with grey eyes and a cute little smile. The woman he’s been waiting for.
The thing is, to love her is easy, but can he trust her?
When Rhett pushes to uncover her agenda, Flo knows she will lose something–the man she loves or what she’d been fighting for her entire life.
Which road will she choose?
Beach bum and country music addicted, Viviana lives in a small Floridian town with her husband and her son, her die-hard fans and personal cheer squad. She spends her days between typing on her beloved keyboard, playing in the pool with her boy, and eating whatever her husband puts on her plate (the guy is that good, and she really loves eating). Besides beaching, she enjoys long walks, horse-riding, hiking, and pretty much whatever she can do outside with her family.
Amazon Author Page >
Happy Birthday to me and Boracay Vows and Happy Thanksgiving to all!
In the Philippines, a child’s first birthday is among the best celebrated events in their life. Parties take on fiesta-like proportions with lots of food, including pancit and lechon, and oftentimes karaoke competitions. Having survived their first year, the child is expected to live a long life from then on.
As I consider Boracay Vows my first book baby, I’m celebrating its first birthday with so much joy and gratitude.
I am incredibly grateful for all the support from family, friends, and even strangers. My debt to those who bought Boracay Vows, and especially those who reviewed it, is something I can never repay. I can only try to return their generosity by sharing more of my stories and writing them with love.
My appreciation also goes to the romance writing community. I wouldn’t have been able to move forward in my writing if not for the tips and sharing of their time and resources by other authors.
To my tribe: OSRBC, Writing Group, SARA, Indie Author Support, Romance Café, Romances That Sizzle, Love Romance Reads – Thank you very much for the inclusion, acceptance, and encouragement.
To my wonderful family here in the US and in the Philippines, thank you. I love you.
I’ve been so blessed in my life, it’s only fair that I give back. For my birthday I’ve placed both Boracay Vows and its sequel New York Engagement on sale for only $0.99 each until November 28. I will donate all earnings from this period to the American Red Cross, my small way of helping those in need.
To fulfill one vow she has to break another
Krista Lopez has five days to fulfill her Turning-Thirty Vow—the promise to do something life-changing in celebration of this milestone birthday. Her plan: give in to her attraction to her Irish-American hunk of a boss Mr. Blake Ryan who is conveniently vacationing in the same posh resort in Boracay.
When he proposes a one-week affair while they're on vacation, she accepts. It's only a fling, after all. Krista will not fall for an American. She can't. She promised her mother.
Promises are made to be broken
Krista and Blake hope what happens in Boracay stays in Boracay. They want to keep their affair a secret from their colleagues, from her family. But, secrets have a way of coming out. When they're found out, will Krista and Blake end their affair or will they say Carpe Diem to the promise of a love of a lifetime?
BORACAY VOWS is the first book in the fun and sexy multicultural contemporary romance series Carpe Diem Chronicles.
With a poet for a grandfather, a short-story writer/teacher for a mother, and a voracious reader for a father, Maida's new career as a writer is a natural fit. Spouse to a USAF Veteran and mother to a kid who loves Texas and Super Mario, Maida writes multicultural contemporary romances set all over the world. At some point in her life, Maida has lived and worked in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States so it's not surprising those are favorite locations for her novels.
I’m new at this whole author business.
My debut novel has been out all of two weeks. So I’m working. And learning. This marketing thing? Strange and terrifying. Professional edits were so intimidating the first time around. Strangely enough, these books don’t actually write themselves. Or publish themselves. You have to sit down, put your head down, and make it happen. It’s hard. And it can be stressful.
But the thing is, even though writing is a solitary venture (and introvert me likes it that way), it’s also not. And that’s what I’m really thankful for this year in both my career and my personal life.
I have an amazing support group.
My alpha reader is a constant source of ideas, improvements, and happy squees of delight over my characters.
My editor pushes me to go that one next step in my writing, to move outside my comfort zone, and to take something good and make it great.
My writing group friends will answer any question, listen to any complaint, share posts, share their own stories, struggles, and triumphs, and just generally be wonderful, supportive people.
My friends buy paperback copies of my books and excitedly run up to me asking me to autograph them. Even though some of them don’t really read romance.
My husband fully supports my writing career, reads my books, and never complains about my overflowing bookshelf and the crazy piles of romance novels I keep bringing home even when I haven’t yet read all the ones I have.
My kids get excited about my books and love to tell people that I’m a writer, even though the younger girls don’t really know what the books are about. And my oldest keeps telling all her teachers to buy my book. She even arranged and photographed a series of flatlays for me that I could use as promo.
Not once has anyone said, “Don’t you have something better to do with your time?” or, “Why do you write that nonsense?” or anything of that sort. Everyone I know has been positive, helpful, encouraging, and supportive.
So, thank you for that. Thank you for every kind word, every positive review, every request for an autograph, every “like” on social media. It gives me hope. It keeps me doing the writing that I love. Thank you for all of you. You mean so much to me.
And a very happy holiday season to all of you and to all readers and writers everywhere. Chase your dreams. I’ll support you.
How to Seduce a Spy
Historical Romance ~ Fantasy ~ Paranormal ~ Victorian ~ Steampunk
Where potions run technology and passions run deep.
A barmaid with a rare talent.
Paris, 1882. Barmaid and potions expert Elle Deschamps knows a worrying secret: the supply of the magic serum that gives her potions their potency is running dangerously low. When a mysterious gentleman hires her to help search out new sources for serum, she jumps at the chance to earn her way to a life of less drudgery.
A spy on a mission.
Agent of the British crown Henry Ainsworth has a simple directive: end the potions crisis, by any means necessary. Posing as a bodyguard, he joins the beguiling potions expert on her continent-hopping expedition, determined to protect her from the unknown foes who wish to thwart her.
A love neither can resist.
With time of the essence, Elle and Henry must rely on one another to avert disaster. As enemies close in, they find the greatest danger of all may not be to their their lives, but to their hearts.
All About Catherine
Catherine Stein started reading at age two, when her mother noticed that she could tell the difference between words that started with the same letter. Ever since, she has wandered around with a book in her hand, her backpack, her purse, or even tucked down the back of her pants. A few years after she began to read, she also began to write, spending the majority of her school career writing non-school-related stories in her notebooks. Now she writes sassy, sexy stories set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras and full of action, adventure, magic, and fantastic technologies.
Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She can often be found dressed in clothing that was purchased at a Renaissance Festival, drinking copious amounts of tea.
Join Catherine's Newsletter >
I’ve never been a fan of marshmallows. I can manage to eat one campfire s’mores and that’s for the chocolate. In some parts of the USA, sweet potato casserole with the mini-marshmallows is almost as important a part of the Thanksgiving feast as the turkey. But the idea of adding marshmallows to a vegetable dish doesn’t tempt my taste buds.
Several years ago I came upon a different breed of sweet potato casserole, one without marshmallows, or orange and cinnamon, another popular variant. Never one to leave a recipe alone, I tweaked it a few times, added this and subtracted that as the mood struck, and arrived at what I’m sharing with you today. Now a much-requested vegetable dish at holiday gatherings, the recipe has been passed along to friends and family all over the world.
P.S. Any leftovers are delicious reheated though the crumble topping gets a little soft.
Maple Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups mashed cooked sweet potato (about 2 ¼ pounds), cooled slightly
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1/3 cup chopped pecans, optional but highly recommended
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl and stir well. Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square-baking dish coated with cooking spray (or lightly buttered or oiled) and smooth the top.
Combine 1/4 cup brown sugar and flour in a small bowl, and cut in 2 tablespoons chilled butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the chopped pecans if using, and sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Drizzle maple syrup over top.
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: ½ cup)
Note: My preferred way to cook sweet potato is to wash and prick the skin and cook, whole, in the microwave like you’d do with a baking potato. Cool slightly, cut in half, and scoop out the flesh.
I hope you enjoy this recipe that is now a tradition in our family. Do you have a different version of the venerated sweet potato casserole?
To stay up-to-date on all my book news, and receive tasty recipes from my kitchen, subscribe to my monthly (+/-) newsletter here.
Exciting news – book three, Love and Redemption, the last in my loosely connected series is coming soon! Stay tuned!!! In the meantime, you can get acquainted with many of the characters, including the heroine in Love and Redemption, within the pages of Love and Mayhem.
Love & Mayhem
Sybil is happily on the shelf, tending to her sheep. But she fears she’ll depart this life without experiencing physical love, which she suspects is rather enjoyable. When her long-lost fiancé returns from sea, she decides he’s the lucky man who’ll receive her virginity.
Max is eager to return to his sugar plantation and has no intention of remaining long in London. However, he didn’t bargain on a wilful, pretty, exasperating spinster determined to take him to her bed.
He insists on marriage but she wants only his body. Her heart is not part of the deal. Unfortunately, love doesn’t always follow the rules.
“I see all sorts of advantages to the married state.” He brought her hand to his mouth, kissing each knuckle in turn before kissing her palm. Then he flicked his tongue over the inside of her wrist. She bit back a moan. Who knew the wrist was such a sensitive spot?
She forced her mind back to the task at hand. Which, when you came to think of it, served the other task as well. Namely, getting him to flick his tongue on other sensitive parts of her body. She took a deep breath. “Some enjoy those advantages without the bother of a marriage ceremony.”
Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. As soon as she discovered her grandmother's stash of romance novels, all plots had to lead to a happily-ever-after.
Luanna writes full time, concentrating on sexy romantic suspense, steamy paranormal romance, and spicy historical romance.
Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Luanna has recently returned to the land of her birth with her dear husband and two spoiled cats. When she's not torturing her heroes and heroines, she’s in her kitchen baking something delicious.
Under her previous pen name of Grace Hood she has two novellas published with The Wild Rose Press.
Amazon Author Page >
LoveRomance Reads >
Growing up the only kid in my class who had divorced parents was hard. To be totally honest, it sucked wind in more ways that I can ever express adequately. Kids are cruel, there’s no denying that, but adults are equally, if not more so, at times.
Because I was considered different since my last name wasn’t the same as my remarried mother’s, I tended to be that loner kid who sat in the back of the class, kept her head down, did really well with schoolwork and loved to read. I was so thankful at the time that I could go to the school library, or my public one, anytime I
wanted and no one would bother or harass me if I just wanted to wile away my hours reading.
And wile away I did.
You know how every now and then there are published studies that say you sleep
this much in your lifetime, or you spend this many hours per day driving to work?
Well, if they ever do a study about how many hours the average person reads in
their lifetime, I will be sosososososo above the norm it will be hysterically funny.
As a kid I was thankful for the escape from a lousy life that books gave me. As an
adult, even though my life is no longer challenging, I’m still thankful for the ability to
dive freely into a good book. And I’m thankful that I live in a country where I can
read across the spectrum of any book I want. There are countries and societies
where certain types of books are routinely banned and burned. Individual ideas are
discouraged and certain words are rejected as being seditious and subversive.
I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to live in a place where I couldn’t
read what I wanted to read.
So when I’m asked what I’m truly thankful for, it’s that I – by the grace of God or
good fortune – live in a country where I am free to read what I want to read. To have
the freedom to choose the words and ideas I want to explore. To have the liberty to
walk into any bookstore or library and request the book I want to have.
And with that freedom to read anything I want, I am also thankful I have the right
and desire to write anything I want without the fear of censure, imprisonment, or
This Thanksgiving, after the turkey has been carved and eaten, the football games
are all being watched, and the kids are writing their letters to Santa, I will be curled
up in corner, a fleece throw blanket covering my legs, happily reading a book from
And I just may stay in that chair for the entire weekend, just reading.