Let’s Teach the Authors

I recently heard a TED talk by a man named Ken Robinson about how our schools should hold creativity (the arts) as high as they do, say, Mathematics. This idea hit home for me and compelled me to write the following. I hope you share the idea with your schools, your friends, and your children.


I decided late in life to write. It occurred to me rather randomly as I was reading another novel. It was sort of like, “I think I could do that.” But I did initially approach it tentatively. I thought back through my own early education—middle school and high school. I used to write in journals, I’d describe the way the sun came in through the window or how I’d lie on the floor while holding the phone to my ear, the cord wrapped around me.


But here’s the thing: in those years, I’d never had anyone offer me a creative writing course. Never. So in my mind, being an author couldn’t really happen—not to “regular people”—or we’d have classes on that. And by the time I got to college, I had spent every single year of my formative years finding something to do as a “real job” and I became a teacher, those old journals so far out of my consciousness that I didn’t even remember what was in them.


I spent 18 years doing a job that was honorable and rewarding and difficult and delightful, but it wasn’t what was meant for me.


I always ask myself, what if I hadn’t acted on that impulse to start writing? So it’s fair to say, and I’m saddened to say that I am an author not because of school but despite it. Yet we’ve deemed success in our current curriculum to be the indicator of who will succeed in life. Years ago, as a fourth grade teacher, with not enough time in the day, I had a measly 30 minutes for writing but the grade level constantly squeezed minutes from it because Social Studies was tested that year by the state, and it was a heavy curriculum, so we often used bits of our writing instructional time to teach Social Studies.


How many authors did we lose? How many beautiful stories will go untold?


To quote a character in my tenth book, which will be out in May, “All we can do in life is try.” If we can hold up the arts to the best of our ability with what we’re given to work with in our own circumstances, to give them as much significance as everything else, and to teach the whole child, that’s trying. Our future authors—and dancers, and musicians, and artists—depend on it. Those little authors sitting in classrooms right now–I hope they make it. I can’t wait to read their books!

Let the Festivities Begin

Hello again! I promised a very busy run up to Christmas, and here’s the first of many exciting announcements! As many of you know, Coming Home for Christmas has been adapted for television by The Hallmark Channel. It first aired on November 18th and reached 5.9 million viewers that first night, making it Hallmark’s highest rated telecast of 2017!

You know what they say, when it comes to the book versus the movie, right? 😉 If you haven’t read Coming Home for Christmas, you can snap up the eBook right now! It’s only $0.99/£0.99 for a limited time!

And then after you read the book, here are the air times for show this Christmas on The Hallmark Channel:

November 25, 4:00pm/3:00 central

November 28, 8:00pm/7:00 central

December 9, 6:00pm/5:00 central

December 15, 10:00pm/9:00 central

December 19, 12:00am/11:00pm central

December 25, (Christmas!) 3:30pm/2:30 central

December 31, 8:00pm/7:00 central

Hope you enjoy Coming Home for Christmas in whatever way you choose to have it! 🙂


Wait, what? It’s Thanksgiving?

I swear I blinked. Just the once. And summer turned into a blur like that little cloud left by the Road Runner on the cartoons I used to watch as a child. Our family made a huge move from the east coast to Nashville, Tennessee, and somehow, while head first in boxes, unpacking, the last few months whizzed by! I got my kids into their new schools, made more changes to my house than I can list on my fingers, started writing my tenth book and celebrated the Hallmark TV movie of my novel Coming Home for Christmas. Now, as I look up from the whirlwind, I’m staring at my children while they tell me that they’re off all week next week for the holiday. But they just started school! No they didn’t, they say.

It really is mid-November.

Where did the time go?

The good news is, we’re nearly settled now. I’ve started hanging curtains and pictures on the walls, the kids’ beds are made every day, and my office is buzzing with activity again. Things are finally slowing down just in time to enjoy the Christmas season. I’m planning to get the Christmas trees out this week, there are gingerbread houses to be built, and stockings to be hung! And, oh yes! Books to be read! If you haven’t picked up my latest Christmas book, We’ll Always Have Christmas is available now.

While it did sneak up on me, I must admit that I’m quite ready for the fireside snuggles next to the glittering lights of the Christmas tree, warm mugs of hot chocolate, and kitchen counters covered with cookie making ingredients! I also have lots of things in store this holiday season, including a really great give-away, so do check in from time to time and catch up with me on social media! Let the festivities begin!


Southern Roots

The south is full of stories and people who like to tell them. I’m not saying that in other areas of the United States there aren’t stories. What I’m saying is that the average southerner finds it perfectly normal to hear what people are doing or even to share their own lives in even the most random of circumstances.


I was in the post office in downtown Richmond, standing in front of two postal workers I’d never met. One was a woman with a big smile and short, curly hair. The other, a man who was thoughtful enough to look over the head of the person he was helping to greet me and acknowledge that I’d been waiting. When the person before me in line finished, I took my place in front of the man.


“I need to return these,” I said, handing the postal worker the keys to my post office box.


He looked over at the other employee. “We’re losin’ one,” he said, and shook his head as if me not checking my post box would give him less joy in his day.


“I’m moving to Tennessee,” I explained.


The man’s smile reached his eyes as his gaze moved in my direction again. He looked at me as if he’d just seen me for the first time. “I’m from Memphis,” he said, the name of his hometown rolling off his lips through his obvious delight.


The woman with the short hair leaned over toward us. “I’m from not too far outside Nashville,” she said, and we all shared that little moment together, the three Tennesseans, old and new.


A lady standing beside me with a wad of envelopes in her hand piped up—I hadn’t noticed her until then. “Dang!” she said with a loud chuckle. “I was gonna tell you to be sure to give these two a hard time whenever you come in! Oh well. Guess it’ll just be me to do it then.”


And we laughed together—all complete strangers.


This is the south.


It is the place that groomed me to be a writer. It’s the place that, in every manuscript, I cannot leave. Because in my mind, that’s where the stories are. That’s where the people who share them live. And there are so many.


I can sit in a café and just listen and hear them, like a storm of information for my author-brain. I sit, typing frantically, the ideas rushing in with every breath that those around me take as I overhear how people react to each other, giving me brand new ideas that may not even be related to what these people are saying. A random word or phrase in one of their conversations can spark a story.


Stories: we all have them. And southerners tend to share them often.


I’m glad I can share mine with you. My latest, We’ll Always Have Christmas, is available for preorder on Amazon right now. It will land on your Kindles September 29th.


Happy reading!




We’re Going to Hollywood!

Poster 1008 size

I am so very excited to share the news that my novel Coming Home for Christmas will be landing on the small screen as part of the 2017 Christmas lineup on The Hallmark Channel. Hallmark is one of the romantic, feel-good heavyweights in television, and this network is the perfect location for my stories. I couldn’t be more thrilled.


It’s such a wild thing to have Coming Home for Christmas be the book that debuts on television because it’s coming full circle. Coming Home for Christmas was my first published novel–it started everything. Now, here I am four years later, and I’m reading the screenplay.


The coming days and months will be thrilling and I look forward to sharing all of it with you!


Well, I’m in the midst of writing the pitch and synopsis for next Christmas’s novel as I excitedly await edits on this summer’s. It’s a busy thing, this writing. When I decided to do it full time, I quickly took over a room in my home, moved all my books in there, bought a desk, and decorated it like crazy until I had My Happy Place. It’s calming, organized, quiet. Then, when the kids went to school and my husband shuffled off to work, I sat. In silence. With nothing pulling my attention.

And I struggled! I had everything I needed! Except inspiration. What I found was that I do best when I’m on the go, people-watching, in new places. I notice the exposed brick on the walls in restaurants, the old lady with the dog that guides her around loose stones on the sidewalks, the icy chill in the air. In a couple of hours at a coffee shop, I can get done what takes me all day at home.

So much of the first draft of my upcoming novel was written in coffee shops around southern Virginia. I thought it might be fun to take you on a tour of my favorite places for inspiration. Grab a cup of coffee and have a look!















Meet Nan from All I Want for Christmas

I’ve really enjoyed all the reviews for All I Want for Christmas–they’re so much fun to read! It was mentioned by a couple of readers that they would’ve liked to have known Nan, since she was almost a character herself, with all the notes she liked to leave. So since we just finished Halloween, I thought I’d give you a little glimpse into life when Nan was at Evergreen Hill. Hope you enjoy it!


Sadie ran down the drive leading to Evergreen Hill. The front steps of the plantation were lined with pumpkins that had been hollowed out and carved with ornate shapes of leaves and acorns, their centers glowing with the flicker of candles inside each one. It was dark, the autumn sun going down early as the season grew colder. The antique porch lights illuminated the walk.

“Look at you!” Nan said, reaching out to give Sadie a hug.

Sadie wrapped her little arms around Nan’s waist, burying her face in the apron that Nan always wore when she’d been baking.

“Let me see your costume,” Nan said, pulling back, her cheeks rosy, her smile reaching her eyes. Her silver hair was pulled up like she’d always done when she’d spent all day in the kitchen. “Oh, let me guess. You’re a gymnast.”

“Yes!” Sadie said, as Leah caught up to them, carrying their bags.

They’d just gone trick-or-treating in town, and Leah was happy to be able to settle in for the night at the plantation. She took a moment to look at the gorgeous house: the windows all aglow in the golden color of champagne, a wreath of orange leaves on the dark wood door, the double chimneys puffing the smoke from their fires inside. She couldn’t wait to wrap herself in one of Nan’s quilts and relax.

“How are you, sugar?” Nan said, leaning over Sadie to give Leah a kiss on the cheek. “I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you too, Nan. I can’t wait to catch up! I have so much to tell you!”

“Well,” Nan said, opening the door, the smell of her banana nut muffins wafting toward them as they went inside. “Let’s get in our pajamas and look through all that candy you got trick-or-treating, Sadie!”

Sadie’s eyes grew round and she turned to Leah. “May I have some right now, Mama?”

“You might want to go up to the yellow room first. I’ve put something on your bed,” Nan said with excitement on her face. Nan was always one for surprises. She loved to leave them little notes and hidden treasures whenever she got the chance.

“What is it?” Sadie asked, hopping up and down.

“Go have a look. I’ll take your mom into the kitchen and get her a drink. I’m sure she’s thirsty from all that walking you all did in town.”

While Sadie tore up the stairs to find her prize, Leah followed Nan into the kitchen. She sat down at the antique table, a vase in the center exploding with orange and yellow blooms, pinecones and more flickering candles around it. She could smell the fire in the fireplace, the lavender that Nan had always used to give the house its unique scent, and the aroma of her cooking—it all was so much a part of Leah that she couldn’t imagine life without it.

“How about a glass of wine, dear?” Nan said, pulling two glasses from the cabinet. “I’m dying to know what you’ve been up to.”

“I just began my first class,” Leah said, the thrill of it still new. She’d always wanted to run the business with Nan, and now it was time to get started.

Nan clasped her hands together in delight, that adoring smile on her face. “You and I will be quite a team,” she said. Then she poured the wine and handed a glass to Leah, raising hers into the air. “We have to toast! To beautiful beginnings!”

Leah held her glass up. “To beautiful beginnings,” she repeated, feeling the elation return. Things were coming together, and she couldn’t be more excited for the future.

“Mama!” Sadie said as she bounded down the stairs. “Mama! Look what Nan made me!” She came skidding into the kitchen on her sock feet. Leah had made her wear socks over the tights of her costume, the wind having picked up, bringing a cold front with it. Sadie had her plastic pumpkin full of candy dangling from her arm as she held up a small, fabric doll with blonde hair and blue embroidered eyes, its dress made of pink ruffles.

“It’s adorable, Sadie.” Leah turned to Nan, who had sat down after their toast and was sipping her wine. “Did you make it?”

Nan nodded, a smile on her lips. “I made one for you too when you were little. Remember?”

“Yes, I still have it. Her name was Ruby.”

“Mine’s going to be Martha,” Sadie said, setting her pumpkin on the table and climbing up onto a chair between them.

Leah chuckled. “Martha?” She turned to the doll as Sadie settled in. “Well, hello, Martha.”

“Shall we dig into this candy?” Nan said, dipping her hand in. “I’ll be happy to take all the Twix bars off your hands.”

“What about the muffins?” Leah said. “It smells like you made muffins.”

“Ah, we’ll have them for breakfast tomorrow. I’ll make us eggs and bacon to go with them.”

“That sounds wonderful,” she said. But then again, everything with Nan was wonderful. As they sat around the table that night, Leah looked out the large window, the wavy glass original to the house, causing the stars to blur against the velvet sky. She felt the start of something great, something new.

And she was ready.

Who’s your winter book boyfriend?

Back by popular demand: the book boyfriend quiz! Let’s see which of my winter book characters you’d fall for! Number your paper from 1 to 8 and for each, write down the letter of your answer.

Will your hero be Robert Marley – Coming Home for Christmas, Adam Fletcher – A Christmas to Remember, Nick Sinclair – Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses, or David Forester – All I Want for Christmas?

  1. While reading on a cold day, how would you warm your feet?

            (a) by a toasty fire

            (b) relaxing with a good drink

            (c) wearing big, fuzzy socks

            (d) traveling somewhere warmer

  1. What type of vacation best describes you?

            (a) a “staycation” with movies and popcorn and a guy who cooks for you

            (b) a tour of breweries or wineries

            (c) visiting a tropical beach

            (d) a trip to New York

  1. What would you most like to do after work?

            (a) have a warm drink and snuggle under a quilt

            (b) go out for cocktails or beers

            (c) listen to music

            (d) ride horses

  1. What would you most like to do in the snow?

            (a) take a horse-drawn sleigh ride

            (b) go sledding yourself down a big hill

            (c) ice skate

            (d) stay inside

  1. What treat would you pick from the list below?

            (a) snow cream

            (b) specialty beer

            (c) cake

            (d) champagne

  1. What’s your favorite thing to wear when it’s cold?

            (a) fuzzy socks

            (b) a sweater

            (c) a new winter coat

            (d) a designer outfit

  1. Which Christmas gift would you like the most?

            (a) an heirloom

            (b) a very nice dinner out

            (c) concert tickets

            (d) a Christmas party

  1. What’s your favorite Christmas drink?

            (a) Eggnog

            (b) a good stout

            (c) a Christmas cocktail

            (d) a shot

Score! Tally up your answers. Which letter has the highest number? Check for your corresponding hero below!

(a) David Forester – All I Want for Christmas

(b) Adam Fletcher – A Christmas to Remember

(c) Nick Sinclair – Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses

(d) Robert Marley – Coming Home for Christmas

Countdown to Publication Day

Publication day is quickly approaching! Next Thursday, October 6th, All I Want for Christmas will be available for sale, and I’m so excited to share it with you! So… Here’s the final excerpt from the book that I’ll be posting. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read in the last three blog posts, please, head over to Amazon, iBookstore, Kobo, or Google Play and pick up a copy!

So what happens when your dream of owning your grandmother’s plantation gets a little kink in it? Read on to see!


Leah had to close her gaping mouth. She re-read the line over and over, trying to make sense of what she was seeing. She pulled the packet from behind the letter and flipped through it. “Holographic will?” she whispered as she tried to figure out what was going on.

What?” Louise said again. “What is that? Tell me. The suspense is killing me!” she said in a loud whisper.

She read Nan’s words. “‘I’ve written a holographic will, Leah. I wanted to get it down on paper as quickly as possible to override what I had originally planned…’” She looked up. “I only own half of the plantation. Something about a change in her will,” she said, hearing the shock in her own voice. “Nan gave the other half to someone named David Forester…”

The coffee pot beeped in the kitchen, alerting them that it was shutting off. The sound rang in Leah’s ears as she tried to visualize the person from the letter. Like snapshots in her brain, she saw him: sharing her ice cream, gathering leaves to do leaf drawings, playing kickball in the back yard.

“I know who that is,” Leah said.



The Friends We Keep

To continue our countdown to publication day for All I Want for Christmas, I’m sharing another teaser!

We all have those great friends with whom we love spending time, who keep our secrets, and help us through the hard things that come our way. Leah Evans is no different. She has two really great friends. They all started out in a single mothers’ group together but dwindled to three–Leah, Roz, and Louise–and they call themselves The Girls. So The Girls will give you a teeny tiny glimpse of the characters in All I Want for Christmas. Hope you enjoy it!

“I’m fine, thanks.” Leah smiled. “I was just going through the mail…”

“Well, ignore it!” Roz said, swinging a glass full of red wine her way. The purple color of it nearly matched Roz’s dark hair. It was bottle-black, her latest beauty experiment, and in the light, it had almost a reddish-purple tint to it. “We’re going to have an amazing night of…” As she pressed her bright red lips together in thought, she handed the other glass to Louise. “What are we doing tonight besides drinking wine and having dinner? Did anyone get a movie or anything?”

“I thought we could play cards,” Louise piped up, taking a dainty sip from her glass and looking back and forth between Roz and Leah. “I brought some. They’re Toy Story though.”

Roz snorted as Louise pulled her five-year-old’s cards from her handbag.