Sunday, November 30, 2008

Climbing

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I went climbing today. The first time in weeks, probably over a month now. My hands didn't do as well as I'd hoped they would. I only had one climb where they didn't tingle at some point. So that was a little disappointing. I took it easy, too. Really easy. Sigh... But no pain so that's a good thing. And nothing hurts now except my legs (that's from being out of shape!) So I'm going to give my hands a rest for a few days and try again on Thursday.

More revisions on tap for tonight! I'm almost through the entire book, and then I get to input all the changes. I'm glad to hear from those authors who posted comments that I'm not the only one who finds strange sentences when they go back through a story!

Hope you had a good Sunday. I'll post the winners of the November contest tomorrow so there's still time to enter. Just post a comment!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Caught in the Vortex

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This picture is me right now! Between family, holiday and revisions, I'm being sucked into the vortex. We had a great Thanksgiving at my parents' house. Yesterday, I made a huge dent in my shopping list by hitting the stores at 5 am. Now I need to buckle down and get the revisions done. I'm halfway through the book.

Of course, I've had a couple of cringing moments when reading sentences such as: The fresh air refreshed her. Yikes. What time in the wee hours of the morning was it when I wrote that! But things like that often slip through so it's great to have a chance to fix it.

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? What are you doing this weekend?

Contest Reminder

Only two more days to enter this month's contest so post comments to get your entries. The prizes are e-gift certificate of your choice to any website that offers email gift card/certificates:

First Prize: $25
Second Prize: $15
Third Prize: $10

* only one prize per person

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish those of you who celebrate today a Happy Thanksgiving! We'll be heading down to my parents' house to enjoy family, football and food. I'll be bringing the cranberry sauce (with lots of extras so we'll all have leftovers) and Shirley Jump's sweet potato casserole.

Of course, I'll also be pouring over all the flyers with my sister and planning my shopping strategy for Black Friday. The one day of the year I won't complain about getting up before the sun.

Let me know how you are spending the day! Have a great time!

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There was blood...

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Poor Chaos finally bled from the kitty wars. I'm not sure who got her, my guess is Spirit, but the poor dog suffered a bloody scratch near her shoulder. Not fun.

Sorry for the late posting, Borders had a great pre-Black Friday sale I wanted to hit. 25% off an item! And then I had to buy my ingredients for the cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole I'll be taking to our dinner. I was suppose to host but called in tears last week begging for someone else to do it. Hosting a dinner with everything going on and now revisions screaming to be done was not going to work. So my mom is hosting it.

Back to the Western Regional Championships aka Oireachtas 2008...

Saturday:
Mackenna had to be at the Pavilion at 7 am to prepare for her team competition also called an 8-hand, even though there are actually 16 hands if you count two per dancer. I've never understood that 8-hand term, but I'm guessing there's some historical significance somewhere in the annals of Irish dance.

All the girls put on the same makeup. They also had the same wigs. And then the waiting began. Finally around 9 am, they danced. I thought they did great, but then again I always do. Unfortunately they didn't recall, but that just meant an entire day free. We could skip the awards ceremony! We spent 6 hours at the resort's water park called The Oasis. It was so much fun. They had a wave pool, a lazy river, hot tub and three big slides. They also had waitresses who would come to your chaise lounge and bring you whatever you ordered. We had lunch out there.

In the evening, we ate dinner at the Rustler's Roost, a restaurant that's part of the resort and where the company I used to work for in Phoenix used to have lunches and stuff. It hadn't changed, though the view from the hill had. There was a wedding reception on the terrace which was fun to watch. The bride ditched her heels for a pair of pink Converse tennis shoes!

Sunday:
I took Mackenna to Mass at the parish I used to belong to when I lived in Tempe. Back then it was brand new and Mass was held in the parish center. Now the church is huge. Mackenna said it reminded her of a little village. It even has a gift store! We grabbed breakfast on the way back to the resort, packed, then went to watch a few of the dancers we know compete.

A little before lunchtime, we headed out. Our destination, Last Chance. This is where Nordstrom sends their returns, and you can find bargains if you're willing to search through the racks of shoes and clothing. I found some great stuff for the three kidlets. Nordstrom tights for 47 cents! We had a blast. We followed our shopping with lunch at the New York Pizza place. Then it was off to see my Aunt Neomi where we were staying for the night.

My aunt, one of my dad's sisters, spoiled us rotten. My maiden name is Martinez and you can imagine the mexican cooking we ate that night. She even taught me how to do things her way! She used this special chili powder that you can only buy if you're family of the makers. It's so good, not at all hot, and I want to get the info and take advantage of being part of la familia! We watched a DVD of another aunt's 80th surprise birthday party, my Uncle Maury's funeral DVD and the AMAs. Mainly we just caught up and heard stories! Fun times! We were sad to leave.

So that's my trip sans pics. I still haven't had time to download them. My revisions arrived on Wednesday after turning to book in at midnight on Monday so it's crunch time again trying to get those done!

What's going on with you?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oireachtas 2008 - Thursday and Friday

My daughter and I got back from Phoenix yesterday. Both of us were exhausted, but very happy. Here's a recap of our first two days. (I haven't downloaded pics yet!)

Thursday:

We flew from PDX to PHX using hubby's mileage. That meant we got to fly First Class. Woo-hoo! I hadn't flown like that since I left United. It was a great way to start the trip.

Our rental car was a cute little black car with Texas plates. Mackenna decided we should talk like we were from Texas. Of course, she's never been to Texas, but she has heard Miley Cyrus from Tennessee speak. Needless to say, her "Texas" accent cracked me up.

We arrived at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix where the Western Region Oireachtas was being held. Mackenna was wide-eyed when she saw the place. Her first words, "Wow, that's the biggest fountain I've ever seen."

We went to check in and were overwhelmed by the amount of people, all Irish Dancers, in the lobby area. A line stretched across the room to get your dancer number. We decided to go to the room first, then come back since we were meeting two of my friends from Stanford for dinner later.

The room was lovely. Two rooms. The first had a couch, table and chairs, television and minibar. The bedroom had two queens, a wall full of drawers, closet and a sink, and then the bathroom. We thought we'd be sleeping on the couch since we were sharing the room with another mother and daughter, but since we had two beds we each got one!

We headed back to the lobby to get Mackenna's number. It was a bit overwhelming with all the people, dancers practicing and noise. She kept inching closer and closer to me. I could tell she was nervous and more than a little scared. We did see some people from our school and say hi. They were all Oireachtas pros and very nice and helpful. We got her number, #18, then headed across the street to buy her a number holder for her dress.

Then it was off to have dinner with two friends of mine, twin sisters. I'd reconnected with one via Facebook in the last couple of weeks so the timing was perfect. It was great spending time and catching up with them. I'd been in band with both. At the restaurant we kept seeing people from the dance school. I also got a call from a mom making sure we had dinner plans. They were all looking out for the newbies!

We headed back to the room, met our roomies and unpacked. It was going to be an early morning with an 8 am competition and we had to be there around 7:15 am. I was getting worried though. Mackenna really looked overwhelmed. She didn't want to practice. She didn't want to do anything. I kept telling myself this was just a practice Oireachtas. It didn't matter how she did. It was just to gain experience, but I really didn't want her to have a negative experience.

Friday:

We were up and ready to go by 7 am. Ready means wig on and make-up done. This was the first competition she's worn make-up. Another mom at our school who wasn't going with her daughter loaned me sparkles and eye shadow and told me what to buy and do. We were at the stage at 7:15 am. Once again, Mackenna didn't want to practice. She warmed up some, but she was very intimidated by everything. It's such a huge competition, much larger in every aspect than anything she'd done before.

Then, one of the dancers from another school in Portland came up to say hi. They compete against each other. This friendly gesture and recognizing a face really helped Mackenna. She started smiling. They talked, hugged. It was awesome. She didn't want to go out of the room to practice, but she finally ran through her steps in place. Huge sigh of relief on my part.

Each round begins with a different number. The starting number for the first round, Hornpipe, was #14 which means Mackenna #18 would be in the second group of three to dance. They dance three at a time at her age.

I have never been so nervous watching her dance before. She's a Prizewinner (dance level) and would be competing against Preliminary Champions (the next level) and Open Champions (the top level of dancers). Prizewinners are only allowed to compete if their teachers say it's okay. I just wanted Mackenna to make it through the dance, remember all the steps and have fun.

She got on stage and danced so well. It's the best I'd ever seen her dance and was so proud. Her kicks and clicks were the highest she'd ever done. She walked off and told me she missed her first click, but it was the best she'd ever danced the hornpipe. I was so happy for her.

The second round started a little later in the rotation so she had a little time before dancing her reel. She made a mistake at the end, but said she was happy how she danced and glad she came to the Oireachtas. We weren't expecting her to recall (the judges recall the top half of the dancers. Recalling is a big deal because it means you placed and win an award).

While we were watching the next age group dance, they started reading off numbers. We realized this was the recall list. It goes in order. I was highlighting the numbers in the program. #14, #18! She'd made it. We were shocked, but very happy. 29 dancers out of 58 recalled in her competition.

If you recall, you dance one more dance called a Set. This is a hard shoe dance. I almost made a huge newbie error though. I'm used to her dancing Traditional Set so thought that was when she'd be dancing. Luckily another mom from our school told us no, Mackenna isn't dancing at 3:15 pm, but in about 30 minutes so don't go anywhere! Thank goodness for her because I was going to take her back to the room for a couple of hours!

The Set dance had me even more nervous. Mackenna actually went out and practiced this one. The reason-she'd never done the dance on a stage or in front of anyone but her teacher and dance class. Since she's a Prizewinner, they only dance Traditional Set dances. You have to be at the Championship level to do a Set. So this would be her very first time performing her Set. Talk about pressure!

But she did great. She said she was off time at the very end, but pleased. She was just thrilled to recall. Dancers and moms from our school kept coming up and congratulating her. It was so great for her and a huge confidence boost.

We watched a few of her friends dance, then headed off-site to grab lunch. I used to live within a mile of the resort in the late '80s and wanted to see my two apartment complexes. Wow, had things changed. It's grown so much and I barely recognized anything. I couldn't believe it was the same Tempe where I'd spent the first three years of my post-college life.

After our little driving tour of mom's old haunts, we went back to the room and took off her wig. I turned on the Disney Channel and gave her a candy bar. Relaxation time. We headed back to the competition to see what was going on. Then it was time for her to get ready for the award ceremony.

The award ceremony was huge. Overwhelming. But a lot of fun. They put on dance music (non-Irish) and all the dancers were up on stage having a great time. It was so loud though. My ears hurt.

Handing out awards took a long time. They call all the dancers up on stage for a particular age group, then they announce the top 20. Those dancers move behind the podium while they hand out awards to all the others who recalled, one at at time, then they do the top 20.

Mackenna's age group was one of the last of the evening. She was fading, but perked up when it was time to go on stage. She didn't expect to be a top 20 dancer. They started announcing the numbers. They announced the nineteenth one, and then the twentieth...18. She'd made it! I looked across a row of seats at her dance teacher who had a sort of amazed/stunned expression. She had two dancers in the Top 20 for that competition! Later, the teacher's mom told me when they announced Mackenna's number it was the first time she'd ever seen her daughter speechless.

Then came handing out awards. At one point they announced that the rest of the dancers had qualified for Nationals. A huge round of applause. That meant Mackenna had qualified for Nationals. Woo-hoo! I couldn't believe she'd done so well as a Prizewinner! They next announced two dancers tied for 18th. Mackenna's number was called. #18 in 18 place! I couldn't be more happy and proud of her. And even better, the other dancer, a preliminary champion from her school who had recalled, placed 9th and qualified for Worlds! It was hard to sleep that night.

Not bad for a "practice" Oireachtas!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Home!

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I love you all, but I've gotta admit four days without my iBook was pure joy! I wasn't even tempted to hop on my aunt's computer when we arrived at her house yesterday. And my hands only went numb once the four days! And no pain whatsoever!!!

Anyway, I'm home now. Tired, but very happy. Not as rested as I'd liked to be, but the tiredness was worth it.

More tomorrow, but just wanted to say "Hi!" and hope all of you are well!

Love,
Melissa

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vacation Time!

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My oldest daughter and I are off to Phoenix, Arizona until Monday. She's competing at the Irish dance Western Region's Oireachtas (think western regionals.) Each part of the country and Canada have them and it's how dancers qualify for Worlds and Nationals.

She's going for experience and to have fun. Emphasis on the fun. This will be our first trip just the two of us. I'm so looking forward to our time together. I'm meeting a friend from college for dinner one night (we found each other on Facebook.) I used to live in Tempe and would love to see old friends, but I only know people's addresses not their emails or phone numbers (Christmas card list!) and it's too late to contact them now which is kind of a bummer. We'll be spending our last night with my aunt, who I can't wait to visit!

I will be leaving my computer at home. Off-line for four whole days! I'm guessing my inbox won't be pretty when I return. Or the unread items in my Google reader. I don't really care!

My revisions already came back, but I'd told them about this trip and sticking to the no computer coming along. Both my daughter and I deserve this holiday away! And so do my hands. I will be bringing a hard copy of the manuscript and a pad of paper for the plane ride there and back.

Hope you have a great weekend. And see you sometime on Monday!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guest blogging at The Wedding Planners

Today is my day to blog at The Wedding Planners. The post is on a wedding theme I found. Hello Kitty Weddings. Check it out and say hi if you have time!

DO NOTÂ WANT
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

As of 12:03 AM

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Thank you. For the support. Your comments. The virtual chocolate. And your friendship!

I don't know how I'd make it through a deadline without you! I mean that. I love you!

Now I'm going to get some much needed sleep. I want to go to Burgerville for lunch and order a Tillamook cheezburger, sweet potato fries and a pumpkin spice milkshake. I've earned it.

Love,
Melissa

Monday, November 17, 2008

Not quite...

...finished yet. But getting closer. A good thing because it's due today!

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Two More Soundtrack Songs...

I just got home from Mass and will be getting back to work in a minute, but wanted to say hi first! Here are two new songs from my book soundtrack that have helped me as I race to the end. My heroine and hero are inspired by the two in the clips so it's very helpful to watch and slip right into the books and characters.

The first is In Her Eyes by Josh Groban:



The second is Your Guardian Angel by Red Jumpstart Apparatus:



Hope you have a nice Sunday! Mine will be rather stressful, but I did pick up a package of Hershey's Bars with Almond. That should help!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It speaks for itself...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Crunch Time

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That picture is exactly how I feel. Although I got some good writing in until lunchtime, the rest of the day was a total wash. Hubby hasn't tried driving yet and was in some pain so I was left driving for yesterday's dance marathon. I spent an hour at a private Irish dance lesson, drove home to pick up the younger two kidlets then returned to the studio for four more hours of various kidlet classes. Considering it's a 30 minute drive each way, you can imagine how much writing I got done. I even brought sandwiches for dinner to try and get me extra writing time. Oh, well... what's an Irish dance mom to do?

The evening went from bad to worse when they told me they wanted to see if they could find a longer class dress (like a school uniform) for my oldest to wear next week at the Oireachtas (i.e. Western Regionals.) The first words out of my mouth were "We can't afford another dress right now." I was told we could see about renting one that was for sale. There was only one used dress that was longer in length, but the sleeves were too short. Thank goodness. I really didn't want to pay out any more money, especially for thirty seconds on stage. So she'll be dancing with a short dress. She'll have black tights on and silver kick pants. She's also only ten and competing in the U15 age group. It should be fine. At least that's what I'm telling myself and her!

Okay, I'm heading back into my cave. I'm entering the frantic, freaked out mode. This weekend is not going to be pretty! Virtual chocolate and hugs gladly accepted (hint, hint!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spotlight in Six Author

I'm the Spotlight in Six author for the month of November at the Harlequin Romance Authors' blog. Please stop by and say hi if you have a moment! It's awfully lonely over there. Click here to go to my interview.

A special thanks to Donna Alward who puts in a lot of work to keep the blog going for all of us Romance authors.

Also, the final chapter of Husband Material is now up at the Mills & Boon website. Click here for chapter eight.

Hope you're having a good day!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Not yet Monday

Why do I love LOLcats so much? Because I can go to icanhascheezburger.com and pretty much find a picture to match my mood or situation. Many times I don't even need to use the search button because gems like this will be on the first page:

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Yep. With a deadline on Monday, I'm right with this LOLcat!

So besides trying to finish my book, what's going on in the household?

- A lot of driving to PT and doctor appointments. We found out hubby will be on crutches for a full two months. Turns out the doc had to do some bone shaving due to bone-on-bone contact in his knee. In order to let blood get in there and cartilage, hubby can't put weight on it. So even though the ACL hamstring graft is looking great, this bone thing will be the limiting factor in his recovery.

- I bought two Christmas presents with a 40% off CDs coupon from Borders yesterday. I also bought a copy of my book. It's one of my traditions. On the release date, I like to buy a copy.

- The kidlets learned to make chocolate chip cookies. All I had to do was put the cookie sheets in the oven and take them out. They were so yummy! And the kidlets even cleaned up the mess!

- The Trigger Point Therapy is working great with my hands. That's three massages so far, and the results are great. My hands aren't healed, but they haven't been this good in a very long time.

So what's up with you?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day!

A big thank you to my dad, uncles, brother in law, cousins, friends and all the other dedicated men and women who served and protected the United States of America over the years!

Here's a YouTube clip that made the rounds a couple of months ago. It's not just friends and families who miss their soldiers while their away.



A couple of writing things on this fine day! Seven chapters of Husband Material are now up at the Mills & Boon website. Click here. I apologize for the formatting. It looks as if several paragraph returns got lost when they brought it over from eHarlequin.

Also my book finally hits the shelves today! Or is supposed to. Please let me know if you see it this week, okay?

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Crevasse

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you might remember my book that hits the shelves tomorrow started as an idea I had while following a climbing accident on Mount Hood in December 2006. The story behind Rescued by the Magic of Christmas is here on my website.

I recently found a link to a special report by the Rocky Mountain News titled The Crevasse. The five part series is about two men, Jim Davidson and Mike Price, who fell into a crevasse on Mount Rainier in Washington state back in 1992. The report is so much more than a retelling of an accident that claimed a life. It's also a story of friendship, of the bond between two friends who were also climbing partners. It made me think not only of my characters, but of the men and women I tie-in with when I climb. It's worth a read whether you climb or not.

Have a nice Monday!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Story of My Life Right Now...

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This week will be crunch time on the book due on the 17th so expect a lot of links, LOLcats and YouTube videos and not so many words.

The final week before a deadline is really stressful, but I must admit it's one of my fave writing times. Things just start happening with the story, almost like magic, and it's as if I'm living the book even when I'm not at the computer. At least that's how it's been with all the other stories. Fingers crossed this one works the same way!

Hope you're having a good Sunday!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Love Story

The kidslets love this song by Taylor Swift so much I decided to check out the music video. It's as sweet as the song. A mini romance. I love it!

The scene in the field really reminds of a similar scene in Pride and Prejudice with Matthew Macfayden and Kiera Knightley. Check it out:



Hope you have a great weekend. I'll be at a soccer game this morning and a swim meet this afternoon. I'll also be trying to squeeze in every spare minute I can to work on the book. Anyone have any fun plans?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Guest blogging at The Wedding Planners

I'm talking about my upcoming release, Rescued by the Magic of Christmas, over at The Wedding Planners blog today. Comments made there will count for this month's contest, so if you comment in both places that's double the entries!

Thanks for the continued wishes for hubby and me. He went to physical therapy yesterday. They're already moving his knee! They also took out the drain which was a relief for me since I was the one who had to drain it. Things are looking better already. Now I just need to finish the book! Sure wish my mom could stay for say, the next two weeks! She's been a huge help. I'm really going to miss her when she heads home tomorrow.

I plan to get back to blog hopping today or tomorrow and see what's been going on with all my friends out there. Hope all is well with you!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

One of those days

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This morning, my hubby will be having knee surgery. Please send prayers and good thoughts his way if you have a minute. Thanks!

Update: Thanks all! The surgery went well. He was home around one thirty. Friends brought us dinner which was great since I'd promised another friend I'd teach her class before knowing today was surgery day. My mom stayed with hubby who has a place set up on the couch (courtesy of the kidlets) and is flipping between all the talking head pundits on cable news channels. (i.e. except for his knee he's in heaven!) He sees the physical therapist tomorrow.

Of course, I haven't sat down all day. Why are men such bad patients? I had to empty the blood from his pump thingy and I swear I wanted to deck the guy with all his pestering and comments. Oh, well... it won't be for long. And he's still a hottie even when he's like this.

As for me I still have ten pages to write once I get the kids to sleep and hubby to the point he doesn't need anything else. It's going to be a loooooong night! Tomorrow's blog may not get written at this point or it may be late.


Melissa

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day!

Several places including Starbucks, Krispy Kreme and Ben & Jerry's are offering freebies to people who cast votes today. I wouldn't mind a free donut or ice cream!

My November book will hit the shelves in exactly one week. I'll post more info about it as the day gets closer.

I'm participating in NaNoWriMo again this year. Not sure how I'll do, but I wanted to give it a shot. I tried to paste my NaNo widget counter thingy in the side bar, but it really slowed the loading time. So I'm pasting it here instead. I didn't upload my numbers from yesterday because it was a pathetic effort. I ended up with a fever for some strange reason and really drained me. I'm hoping I do better with NaNo tomorrow!



Have a great day and don't forget to vote!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Monday Catchup

Chaos went trick or treating on Friday night. Her costume...Superdog! The kids tied a red cape around her. The good doggy that she is never complained once and happily went along with it. One house was giving out dog biscuit so she even got a treat! Not a bad gig. I'll add a picture this week. I haven't had time to download anything this weekend.

Of course, Chaos was absolutely exhausted when she got home. So were the kidlets. All of them crashed and had to be woken up on Saturday morning. Even the dog!

Granted, Chaos is fifty pounds, definitely not a puppy, but this picture is how I would love to see my dog and cats sleep.

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Someday I'd love to catch them all curled up together. Okay, I know it's not going to happen, but a person can still dream!

On Saturday, I got a massage. She concentrated on my hands, arms, shoulders and neck to try and relieve the carpal tunnel symptoms. I came home feeling better than I have in months. It made me realize just how much things have been hurting. The only thing I wanted to do now that I felt better was go climbing! I didn't. Only because my climbing partner had other plans. Oh, well...maybe this week. I made an appointment to go back this week for another massage. I figure with a deadline only two weeks away, I need it!

Other than that it was a typical weekend...soccer game, swim meet, church and writing (NaNoWriMo started Saturday!) What about you?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Today's winner and a new contest!

It's Sunday and time to giveaway a free book. Here are your random numbers:

4
Timestamp: 2008-11-02 22:47:51 UTC

This week's free book winner is Virginia. She won with a comment on the post Weekend update and book winner. Virginia, please choose one book from the list here. Email me your choice along with your snail address. You can use the contact form on my website.

Last week's winner Rottie_mom chose The Lady and the Vamp by the Michelle Rowen. Happy reading!

As I've been mentioning the last couple of weeks, I'm going to take a break from the weekly book giveaways for the rest of November to celebrate the release of my new Harlequin Romance, Rescued by the Magic of Christmas, that will hit the shelves on the 11th. This contest will work the same way as the other did. Each comment you make earns you one entry. Instead of weekly winners, all the prizes will be awarded on Sunday, November 30th. The winners will be selected using a random number generator. Only one prize per person. Be sure to check back to see if you won!

Here's what I'll be giving away:

1st prize: $25 gift certificate (your choice of any website that offers email gift card/certificates)
2nd prize: $15 gift certificate (your choice of any website that offers email gift card/ certificates)
3rd prize: $10 gift certificate (your choice of any website that offers email gift card/certificates)

Hope you had a nice weekend! I'm happy because the kidlets brought home lots of candy on Halloween night. My son was so sweet. He was given a choice of full-sized candy bars at one house. He choose a Butterfinger to give to me! Best candy bar I've ever had!!!!