GUEST POST WITH TRACY SOLHEIM
Christmas is about traditions. I love everything about the holidays: The music, the lights, the food, the decorations, the trees. One of my favorite holiday activities is unpacking those carefully wrapped ornaments and hanging them on the tree limb. Imagine my distress when, for allergy reasons (mainly because I couldn’t stand the coughing of the men in the house) we switched to an artificial tree after over twenty years of decorating a live one. It kind of took some of the joy out of the holiday for me not having a million pine needles floating around the house.
Now, don’t get me wrong, our fake tree is very pretty. Aside from the fact it smells like plastic. Yankee Candle to the rescue. It stands nine feet tall and when it’s lit with the 500 clear lights, it looks like the real thing from the street. And, our man-made Balsam tree is really easy to assemble, light, and decorate. No sap to peel off the fingers or scrapes to bandage from the sharp needles. Best of all, you can bend the branch to prevent the heavy ornaments from slipping off and shattering on the hard wood floor. This is particularly important to me because I’m ridiculously attached to our treasure trove of ornaments—some hand-made in Sunday school or pre-school, many acquired during our travels.
When I get my hands on those precious ornaments, I realize it doesn’t matter whether my tree is real or not. It’s the actual ornaments that tell the story of my family’s journey through Christmas past. Like my family, our tree decorations aren’t fussy or pretentious; they aren’t fashionable or organized. They’re just pieces of the story of who we are and where we’ve been.
Interspersed among the hand-made originals are the fancy Lennox and Wallace ornaments. Ornaments from the White House are mixed in with balls filled with sand from beaches we’ve visited. There are horses and dogs, marionette Santas all the way from Germany, gingerbread men and reindeer. The candy canes are wooden ones that my Grandmother used to hang on her tree. One of my favorites, though, is a hand-carved loggerhead turtle we picked up in North Carolina.
I’ve always been fascinated with sea turtles. Like, Jenna, the sea turtle enthusiast in my novella, Holiday at Magnolia Bay, I grew up a military brat and my family gravitated to one beach on the North Carolina coast for vacations. I’ve continued the tradition with my own children. We’ve been fortunate enough to see these great turtles in “the wild” and also stranded on the beach. Turtle nests along the shore are as much a part of our vacation spot as sunburn and seagulls. I’ve been lucky to be able to watch under a late summer moon as a nest full of loggerhead turtles bubbled up from the sand and sprinted into the ocean. It was awesome!
And every year, my family and I are reminded of that memory filled night just by glancing at a wooden turtle hanging from a branch on our Christmas tree. It’s so pretty I almost don’t notice the tree isn’t real. Almost.
Do you have special ornaments you hang on your Christmas tree?
Holiday at Magnolia Bay Synopsis:
After a mission goes terribly wrong, ending in the death of a teammate, Navy Seal, Drew Lanham, is forced to take a leave from active-duty. Retreating to his godmother’s beach house in coastal Magnolia Bay, Drew plans to spend the three weeks R&R licking his wounds and catching some rays while the nightmares from his failed op fade. The last thing he wants to do is mingle with the locals. What he doesn’t count on is an early morning encounter with a goddess rising from the sea. His interest is piqued and his body put on alert when he finds out that same woman may or may not be after his godmother’s money.
Marine biologist, Jenna Huntley, has been searching her whole life for a place to call home and Magnolia Bay is that place. Unfortunately, she’s underutilizing her education giving tours at the town’s turtle rescue center. With the help of an octogenarian patroness, she maps out a proposal to develop a turtle hatchery on-site. Everything is going as planned until the older woman’s godson arrives. Suddenly, nothing is as it seems and Jenna’s future is hanging in the balance, with a sexy warrior pulling all the strings. Her natural tendency is to help the damaged hero, but she’s sworn off letting military men in her life ever again.
Will Drew and Jenna be able to put their pasts behind them and learn to trust their hearts long enough to enjoy their Holiday at Magnolia Bay?
Tracy Solheim Bio:
Tracy Solheim is the international bestselling author of the Out of Bound Series for Penguin. Her books feature members of the fictitious Baltimore Blaze football team and the women who love them. In a previous life, Tracy wrote best sellers for Congress and was a freelance journalist for regional and national magazines. She’s a military brat who now makes her home in Johns Creek, Georgia, with her husband, their two children, a pesky Labrador retriever puppy and a horse named after her first novel. Her fifth book for Berkley, Back To Before, will be released in January. She also has a digital holiday novella for Tule Publishing’s Southern Born Books coming October 20. See what she’s up to at www.tracysolheim.com. Or on facebook at Tracy Solheim Books and Twitter at TracyKSolheim.
Just in Time for Christmas Synopsis:
Nobody does Christmas like Miranda Hamilton, and now that she finally has her chance to chair Magnolia Bay’s tree lighting and the cotillion, which benefits her late mother’s breast cancer foundation, this Christmas is shaping up to be the best ever. That is until her childhood nemesis Logan Mauldin buys his way on her committee and starts making plans of his own.
Logan Mauldin loves to get under Miranda’s very sexy skin, and it’s only fair. She’s been getting under his since long before their first kiss at 13. Logan’s the last man interested in co-chairing a Christmas committee or participating in a sexy bachelor auction, but since that night he interrupted Miranda on a date and cornered her under the mistletoe, he can’t stop thinking about her. Or vying for her attention and bugging the hell out of her.
Christmas cheer isn’t the only thing that heats up between the Miranda and Logan, but, thanks to a lie that is as much her fault as it is his, he loses the woman he’s loved since forever. Logan will need a Christmas miracle for Miranda to forgive him. A grand gesture to melt her heart and win her back just in time for Christmas.
Kim Boykin Bio:
Kim Boykin is a women’s fiction author with a sassy Southern streak. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair, Steal Me, Cowboy, and Palmetto Moon (Summer 2014.) While her heart is always in South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, 3 dogs, and 126 rose bushes.
The Trouble With Christmas Synopsis:
At 35-years-old, Cole Stanton is burned out. His high-paced, uber-successful career has left him yearning to start over. He finds Indigo Island, buys a restaurant and settles into an uncomplicated life. But Christmas is a mess. He has over-committed the small restaurant’s resources again, and is over his head. He finds himself longing for everything he has left behind, until a chance encounter with gorgeous Lily offers a spark of salvation to his business and, perhaps his life.
Beautiful pastry chef Lily Edmonds is thirty years old and heartbroken. It’s just before Christmas and she’s just been dumped by via telephone by her fiancee. Her best friend Avery Putnam invites her to Indigo Island, hoping to add joy back into Lily’s life. A chance encounter with the sexy owner of a local restaurant makes Lily feel an attraction she thought she’d never feel again, and offers her a business challenge to keep her mind focused on something other than her broken heart.
Cole Stanton and Lily Edmonds are both starting over. Will the joy of the holiday season bring them together or will the troubles with Christmas push them apart?
Kaira Rouda Bio:
Kaira Rouda is an award-winning and bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include: Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs; Here, Home, Hope; All the Difference; In the Mirror; and the short story, A Mother’s Day. She lives in Southern California with her husband and four children and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter, @KairaRouda, and on Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books. And of course, on Pinterest! For more about Kaira and her books, please visit her website KairaRouda.com.
A Very Married Christmas Synopsis:
Cookbook author Marley Chambers can’t think of a more festive way to spend Christmas than at a friend’s holiday wedding in her hometown of Magnolia Bay. If only her soon-to-be ex-husband, all-star pitcher, Beckett “Beck” Chambers wasn’t bringing his new girlfriend—and if only he wasn’t still the sexiest man to ever walk out onto the mound…
Beck never wanted the chaotic life of a sport star—especially not at the cost of his marriage to the only woman he’s ever truly loved. But his career is a runaway train—and he’s afraid it’s too late to hit the brakes.
But when a mix-up leaves Beck and Marley stranded together for Christmas Eve on the barrier island where Beck proposed years before, old memories burn bright—and sparks fly hotter than a bonfire on the beach.
Could the magic of the season bring the gift of a second chance, just in time for Christmas?
Erika Marks Bio:
Erika Marks is a women’s fiction writer and the author of LITTLE GALE GUMBO, THE MERMAID COLLECTOR, THE GUEST HOUSE and IT COMES IN WAVES (July, 2014). On the long and winding road to becoming published, she worked many different jobs, including carpenter, cake decorator, art director, and illustrator. But if pressed, she might say it was her brief tenure with a match-making service in Los Angeles after college that set her on the path to writing love stories (not that there isn’t romance in frosting or power tools!) A native New Englander, she now makes her home in Charlotte, NC, with her husband, a native New Orleanian who has taught her to make a wicked gumbo, and their two little mermaids. For more on Erika’s books, visit her website athttp://www.erikamarksauthor.com