Winter Holiday Traditions Guest Post from Lori Foster + Giveaway

Today I’d like to welcome one of my favorite authors, Lori Foster, to share some of her own holiday traditions here at Reading Reality as part of the Winter Holiday Traditions (+ reads!) tour from TLC Book Tours and Harlequin Books.

The book that Lori is featuring this time around (we were part of this tour last year too!) is Close Contact, the third book in her marvelous Body Armor series. I read it a couple of weeks ago and absolutely loved it. I hope that it’s one of the book that you might be thinking of curling up with this holiday season!

Bestselling Romance Author Lori Foster Shares
Her Own Family Holiday Traditions

While I detest cold weather, I LOVE the holidays. Ever since my husband and I first married – more than 39 years ago – we’ve been the holiday people. Family parties are at our house and as the family has grown, we’ve learned to adjust.

To make it easier on families with kids, we do Christmas Eve vs Christmas Day. With both sides of our families attending, we get anywhere from 40 to 70 guests. Much depends on whether or not the young adults bring dates. This year we’ll have kids from 6 months to 21 years. (Yes, I still count them as kids.)

I decorate the house inside and out (I hire decorators for the outside!) and I buy gifts for everyone who will be there. I prefer something wrapped to simple gift cards. Because there are so many people, I start my shopping early!

Before Christmas Eve, I get together 200+ Christmas cards to mail. I also do Christmas packages for my grandkids and a few other very special children who I adore. I’ve found that kids love getting mail! I include a Christmas card, a few pieces of candy, and some fun little toys that mail easily.

In early December, I have a luncheon for local authors and some reader friends. It’s so fun to get together with plenty of time to chat and catch up. We usually do an ornament exchange and (when I’m lucky) I end up with lots of cookies from guests. 😊

About 2 weeks before Christmas, I have a kids’ party – just to help the little ones unleash all that anticipatory energy. LOL. We play games, they win prizes, everyone gets a small gift, and then we chow on kid-fun food and desserts.

This year, we’ll probably have Christmas Eve in our new house! The contractor has been working on it for more than a year, but I think we’re close to it being done. It’ll work out better for us because it’s all one big open space – perfect for so many people to mingle. (Plus there’s still a large lower area where the young adults can go to play video games.)

In the middle of all, I still write! I’m like an ogre when I can’t spend at least a little time each weekday working on a story. However you celebrate the holidays, either in a frenzy of activity as I do, or more calmly, at a slower pace, I hope you have lots of love and peace.

About Close Contact:

There’s no resisting a desire like this…
MMA fighter Miles Dartman’s casual arrangement with personal shopper Maxi Nevar would be many men’s fantasy. She seeks him out, they have mindblowing sex, she leaves. Rinse, repeat. Yet lately, Miles wants more. And when Maxi requests his services via the Body Armor security agency, he’s ready to finally break through her defenses—and protect her day and night.
Receiving a large inheritance has brought chaos and uncertainty into Maxi’s life. Her ex has resurfaced, along with lots of former “friends,” and someone is making mysterious threats. Then there’s Miles, who doesn’t ask for anything…except her trust. Pleasure is easy. Now Maxi has to give her heart as well as her body…or risk losing a man who could be everything she needs.
“Foster writes a tale that is off-the-charts hot and steeped with mystery.” – RT Book Reviews on CLOSE CONTACT

“Mysterious things that go bump in the night fuel this romance right into a blaze.” -Night Owl Reviews on CLOSE CONTACT

About Lori Foster: Lori Foster is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author with books from a variety of publishers, including Berkley/Jove, Kensington, St. Martin’s, Harlequin and Silhouette. Lori has been a recipient of the prestigious RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Fantasy, and for Contemporary Romance. For more about Lori, visit her Web site at www.lorifoster.com.

~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

Lori and Harlequin are giving away a$50 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky entrant on this tour!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TLC
This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews and features.

Thanksgiving 2017

Today marks Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.

For a lot of us, this is a day off of work, and a day to spend with family and friends. Also a day to end up in a turkey-induced coma, although I’m trying to avoid that last bit.

We’re spending the holiday with friends and family-of-choice. Wherever you are, I hope its warm, bright and filled with the voices of those you care for.

The leaves have fallen. Snow may be on the ground, or falling. Autumn is definitely here in the northern hemisphere.

And tomorrow, heaven help us all, is Black Friday, and the opening salvos of the holiday shopping season.

Rest up!

Labor Day 2017

Hurricane Harvey near peak intensity prior to landfall in southern Texas on August 25

For those actually celebrating this Labor Day weekend, Happy Labor Day! Today marks the unofficial end of summer.

However, those living in Houston Texas, or anywhere within the path of Hurricane Harvey, are probably still laboring in one way or another, either to mop up damage, or just to figure out what to do now that the storm if over and the recovery has barely begun.

We have friends in the Houston area, and are grateful that their ride through the hurricane was relatively mild. Their house is on high ground, and they suffered only minor damage to one car. They were lucky, when so many people were not.

Ironically, at this time last year, when I wrote my Labor Day post we were tracking the path of Hurricane Hermine. As trends go, this one sucks. And very, very definitely blows.

Stay safe, wherever you are spending your Labor Day.

Memorial Day 2017

A Marine at Vietnam Memorial on July 4 2002
A Marine at Vietnam Memorial on July 4 2002 By Meutia Chaerani – Indradi Soemardjan

Ever have an earworm? You know what I mean, a song running through your head that you can’t get out no matter how hard you try. Last year, just after Veterans Day, I had an earworm. Only a bit of the song, a plaintive voice singing a capella. After a few days of it driving me crazy, I’m going to share it with you this Memorial Day. Not because I want to drive you crazy too, but because this is where it belongs. It still makes me cry.

The Ballad of Penny Evans by the late, great Steve Goodman.

Oh my name is Penny Evans and my age is twenty-one
A young widow in the war that’s being fought in Viet Nam
And I have two infant daughters and I do the best I can
Now they say the war is over, but I think it’s just begun.

And I remember I was seventeen on the day I met young Bill
At his father’s grand piano, we’d play good old ‘Heart and Soul’
And I only knew the left hand part and he the right so well
And he’s the only boy I ever slept with and the only one I will.

It’s first we had a baby girl and we had two good years
And, it was next the 1A notice came and we parted without tears
And it was nine months from our last good night our second babe appears
And so it’s ten months and a telegram confirming all our fears.

And now every month I get a check from an Army bureaucrat
And it’s every month I tear it up and I mail the damn thing back.
Do you think that makes it all right, do you think I’d fall for that ?
And you can keep your bloody money, it sure won’t bring my Billy back.

I never cared for politics, and speeches I don’t understand,
And likewise never took no charity from any living man
But tonight there’s fifty thousand gone in that unhappy land
And fifty thousand ‘Heart and Soul’s’ being played with just one hand.

And my name is Penny Evans and I’ve just gone twenty-one
A young widow in the war that’s being fought in Viet Nam
And I have two infant daughters and I thank God I have no sons
Now they say the war is over, but I think it’s just begun.

Thanksgiving Day 2016

Happy-Thanksgiving-Images-Card

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the U.S.

Thanksgiving may be a bit more strained around some family dinner tables than others this year. We’re planning to be with like-minded friends, so while there may be some sadness amidst the joy, we’ve always been on the same side and this holiday will be a chance to welcome new friends among us and be grateful that we have each other to lean on.

Before I sign off to go see if I can help with the turkey, I have one final thought to leave you with today:

539-thanksgiving-quotes

Labor Day 2016

hurricane hermine

Welcome to the unofficial end of summer.

Once upon a time, Labor Day weekend was the last free weekend kids had before school started and homework began. Today many schools start in August, and Labor Day weekend isn’t quite what it used to be. But it is still a 3-day weekend and most places usually have good weather.

Although when we lived in Anchorage, Labor Day Weekend usually heralded the sighting of “Termination Dust” – the first visible snowfall on the Chugach Mountains that surround the Anchorage bowl. It was an unmistakable, but unwelcome, sign that winter was coming.

This year might be different. As I write this on Thursday, Hurricane Hermine is headed for the Florida Gulf Coast, which means a whole lotta rain in the southeast as it tracks its way across Florida and south Georgia heading for the Carolinas. Atlanta is a bit too far north for the actual hurricane, but I expect plenty of stormy weather on its fringe.

I also want to know who is responsible for the name “Hermine”. It should be Hermione. She brought plenty of bad weather to the forces of darkness in the Harry Potter books. A hurricane named in her honor would be totally appropriate.

I hope you are having a terrific Labor Day Weekend, wet or dry.

 

Fourth of July 2016

July 4 Fireworks, Duluth GA
July 4 Fireworks, Duluth GA

Today is the 240th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was the beginning of the “American Experiment” which has mostly worked, but has certainly had its ups and downs in the intervening two plus centuries. Which years are the “ups” and which ones are the “downs” is something that history will have to decide.

For those of you in the U.S., I hope you have a fantastic three-day weekend. We can see the village fireworks, just like in the picture above, from our front yard. The cats will be cowering somewhere in the house, wishing for the “night of big booms” to finish up and leave them to their late evening naps.

 

Memorial Day 2016

civil war marker

This Memorial Day, as for every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the village where I live has posted memorial markers along all of the major streets in town to commemorate those related to this place who fought in the service of this country, and died either in conflict or later, after their service was done.

While I expected to see markers for those who served after this place was founded (1876), I recently discovered that there are few markers from even earlier wars, as seen in the above photograph. There is also a marker for someone who fought in the Revolutionary War, at least according to the list published by the village, but the marker itself doesn’t show the war.

Because this whole thing fascinates me, I finally looked up the process for getting one of these markers. A family member for any deceased service member, if that family member now lives here, can get a marker for their relative. Considering the rules on establishing both kinship and the proof of service, I do wonder how much paperwork it took to get that Revolutionary War marker placed. The Civil War marker was probably quite a bit easier.

Long story short, I could get one for my father. I live here, and he served in the Army Air Corps after World War II. He was still in high school during the war. Admittedly, he didn’t serve long. Not that anything terrible happened, and in any other branch of the service it wouldn’t have mattered, but my dad, who had 20/20 vision, had no depth perception. He could fly the plane just fine, but he couldn’t land very well on visual flight. The story was that he never dealt the runway the “glancing blow” that you were supposed to, but rather dropped the plane onto the tarmac from just slightly too high off the ground. Planes don’t bounce terribly well, and flight instructors are not very happy with being bounced – especially over and over by the same person. He was honorably discharged in less than a year. In 1946, the services didn’t need more people, they had plenty of WWII veterans returning who found civilian life not quite what they remembered.

But I could get him a marker. And I’ve thought about it. But in order to do so, I’d have to make him a test case. (He might like that, he did always love tilting at windmills). All the markers are crosses, and the regulations state that “Markers will be constructed in a uniform fashion.” That uniform fashion is a cross. The use of this religious symbol presumes that all the honorees have been and will always be Christian. My father was a Jew. And he served. But for him, a cross is not an honor. It’s a denial.

On this Memorial Day, and every Memorial Day, it is important to remember, and to honor ALL who served.

memorial day duluth