'Twas the Night Before Christmas

One of the first poems I memorized as a child was A Visit from St. Nicholas, the poem known by most as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. which is the first line of the poem.

When I was a kid, I had a record of the poem set to music, sung by Perry Como, an Italian crooner my mom loved. I played the record so many times that I can clearly hear it in my memory.

The poem was first published anonymously in the Troy, New York, Sentinel on December 23, 1823, submitted by one of the author's friends. In 1837, the poem was attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, an American Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, who acknowledged authorship.

Although Moore published other poems as well as political treatises, he's best known for the poem about St. Nick.

According to Moore, he wrote his poem while visiting his cousin Mary McVicker in what is now Constableville, New York. Apparently, he was inspired by a sleigh ride during a shopping trip on a snowy winter day.

There are 4 handwritten copies of the poem known to exist. Three of those are in museums, and the fourth, written and signed by Moore as a gift to a friend in 1860, was sold by one private collector to another in December 2006. Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas, brokered the sale for $280,000 by an unnamed "chief executive officer of a media company" who lives in Manhattan.

Takeaway Truth

"I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight: Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"

So say we all.

Giving Gifts

I love my blog audience and the readers who buy my books! Thank you so much for supporting me.

Elbert Hubbard said: "Love grows by giving. The love we give away is the only love we keep. The only way to retain love is to give it away."

I'm giving away love today in the form of free books. If you'd like a free book, drop by Anna Kathryn Lanier's Blog today. I'm guest blogging there. Read my post and leave a comment with your email address (don't leave it as a hot link -- write it out) to win a Swag Bag I'm giving away. In my post, I'm giving the Smashwords coupon code for a free book.

NOTE: Anna is sick so there may be a delay in her loading my guest post.

Takeaway Truth

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Remember to visit me at Anna Kathryn Lanier's Blog for a free copy of one of my books and to be entered for the Swag Bag giveaway as well as prizes from the Holiday Cheer authors.

Holiday Cheer: Check These Out

Because of my Internet problems, I was unable to post earlier about Anna Kathryn Lanier's Blog. Take a moment now to visit her blog and read the Holiday Cheer posts from some pretty fabulous authors, along with a favorite recipe from each author.

You see, each year Anna Kathryn Lanier hosts authors every day from December 1 -- January 1 for chat about romance novels, recipes, and giveaways.

I'll be a guest on Anna's blog tomorrow, Sunday, December 22, so please join me at Anna Kathryn Lanier's Blog for a chance to win a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card, as well as other prizes donated by the 29 authors who were this year's Holiday Cheer guests.

I'm giving away a free copy of Nobody's Cinderella, my Christmas romantic comedy, to anyone who comments along with a Swag Bag full of goodies -- to be awarded to a commentator from the lower 48 states only. (Swag Bag and free books via Smashwords to be awarded on or before January 3, 2014.)

To Win

To be eligible for the $25 gift card and author prizes, just leave a comment on each blog post. Authors will draw names from the comments the day following their post. Anna Kathryn will draw a winner for the $25 gift card on or about Jan. 3, 2014.

Holiday Cheer Guests

If you want to read a favorite author's post, here was the lineup for this year:

1-Dec Roni Denholtz
2-Dec Wareeze Woodson
3-Dec Bethany Averie
4-Dec Celia Yeary
5-Dec Andrea Downing
6-Dec Anna Kathryn
7-Dec Caroline Clemmons
8-Dec Carra Copelin
9-Dec Chrys Fey
10-Dec Melissa Snark
11-Dec Sky Purington
12-Dec Marie Higgins
13-Dec Renee Knowles
14-Dec Linda Laroque
15-Dec Jenny Andersen
16-Dec Cheryl Pierson
17-Dec L. A. Kelley
18-Dec Lyn Horner
19-Dec J D Faver
20-Dec Tara Manderino
21-Dec Shauna Allen
22-Dec Joan Reeves
23-Dec Terri Rochenski
24-Dec Anna Kathryn
25-Dec No One
26-Dec Sarah McNeal
27-Dec Tanya Hanson
28-Dec Loretta C. Rogers
29-Dec Debra St. John
30-Dec Charlene Raddon
31-Dec Kathleen Rice Adams
1-Jan Anna Kathryn

Takeaway Truth

The Holidays is all about good company, good food, and good times. See you tomorrow on Anna Kathryn's Blog.

Remodeling Hell & Remodeling Purgatory

Is this the Christmas Cranky Report? Sort of. My complaint is that it doesn't feel like Christmas. I've bought no presents, made no Christmas goodies, and put no tree up.

I did reduce the price of my holiday romance Nobody's Cinderella, a Christmas Romantic Comedy from $3.99 to only 99 cents. The price goes back to $3.99 on or before midnight tonight so grab a copy quick.

I guess I'm back. Sort of. In case you thought I was dead or in hiding, the truth is that I've been living in remodeling hell since November 21 when we, and our contractors, moved into the townhouse we bought in Houston.

Oh, the chaos has made me long for the quiet of the Hill Country where I spent the summer. Far better to deal with skunks, armadillos, and snakes than to deal with sawed sheetrock -- and the resulting dust which seems to amount to more matter than the actual sheetrock from which it came -- a parade of various craftsmen and the receipts and charge slips that are about as high as Mount Everest by now.

Remodeling Is Hell

I had planned everything so that we wouldn't be living in the house while it was being remodeled. Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men! Nothing worked out according to my schedule. We were at the mercy of contractors and their schedules.

Okay, it didn't look as bad as the picture on the left, but in my mind, it was that bad. I didn't want our furniture delivered until everything was done. My timetable called for (1) electrical work, (2) plumbing, (3) carpentry, (4) new windows, (5) painting, (6) new carpet, then (7) moving company delivery.

As it turned out, using the numbers above, it ended up this way: (1), (6), (4), (7), (5), (3), (2).  The electrical started on time, but instead of being finished in 2 weeks, it's ongoing. Plumbing is supposed to be today, but plumber still hasn't shown up. The new carpet, windows, and moving company delivery had to happen when they told me they had an opening on the calendar or it wouldn't happen until after Christmas.

Added Problems Make You Crazy

Throw in the little problems one finds when remodeling a house: AT&T uVerse for Internet worked fine -- the first few days. Then it went crazy. I've been mostly unable to get online for days. My MS  Outlook worked great for my email those first few days -- until Yahoo, so AT&T told me, did and upgrade to their software and hardware. I've not been able to access email since then except through webmail. That makes me crazy, and there seems no answer to this problem. My husband can access email fine with Outlook on his computer in the next room. My computer has the same everything but won't work.

Then there are the things you find hidden in the walls when you start remodeling. Suffice it to say that when you set a remodeling budget, you should just triple the dollar amount to be safe.

Remodeling Purgatory

Hell has given way to Remodeling Purgatory. We are unpacking all the boxes and figuring out where to store everything. We have mostly survived -- poorer but intact -- and the house is almost finished. At least our amazing electrician has finished making holes in the walls and ceilings to discover what's wrong with the wiring. That's all fixed and safe now.

More upgraded lighting work and other things -- like new doors which didn't arrive yet and are delayed until the new year -- will happen in January. I've just reached the point where I want a couple of weeks without workers in and out of the house all day long and without having to clean dust all day, every day.

Your Routine Ends When Remodeling

Everything fell by the wayside: finishing Cinderella Blue for publication, blogging, working out -- you name any normal daily activity, and it comes to a screeching halt when remodeling. You spend your time waiting for workmen to arrive or calling and leaving messages to find out why they're not here when they promised!!! Just start to write something though, and they show up. Once here, there's constant noise -- and dust. My allergies have me sneezing and eyes burning and tearing. Then, you're constantly cleaning up after workmen.

Takeaway Truth

Eventually all things end -- even remodeling. I'm looking forward to that and have the bottle of champagne chilling to celebrate it.

How To Send Smashwords Book To Your Kindle

Smashwords offers a lot of free ebooks, and authors often give away Smashwords Coupons for free books. Some of you Kindle users may not know how to get a Smashwords book onto your Kindle.

(Every few months, I like to run this post to help new ebook readers learn how to get a book on Smashwords and send it to the Kindle device to read it.)

Smashwords offers eBooks in multiple formats. One of these is usually the .mobi file format used for Kindle. It's very easy to download the .mobi files and transfer them to your Kindle. Here are step by step instructions for you.

How To Transfer a Smashwords Book to Your Kindle

1. Set up an account with Smashwords so you can purchase an eBook or download a free book with a Smashwords coupon. Then when you buy an eBook from Smashwords, the book is automatically placed in your Smashwords library. You can download the eBook in any offered format immediately or at a later date.

2. Even though you have Manage Your Kindle set up for buying and managing your Kindle books from Amazon, you will need to download the Kindle for PC app to your computer. When you do this, the download installation will set up a My Kindle Content folder, listed under My Documents on your computer. Then, when you download an ebook from Smashwords in a .mobi file, the file will automatically be saved in your My Kindle Content folder.

3. Download your selected book from Smashwords. The book will be placed in your Smashwords Library, and Smashwords will save the book as 2 files on your computer. The first file will be the My Kindle Content .mobi file, and the second file is a .mbp file. Once those 2 Smashwords files are saved on your computer, the Kindle for PC app you already installed on your computer will be able to open the eBook. You can read it immediately on your computer.

Most of us with Kindles though want to read on the Kindle. So let's continue.

Transfer Book from Kindle for PC to Your Kindle Reader

There are 2 ways to do this.

1. Connect the USB end of your Kindle cable to your PC. Open the Kindle drive, copy the Kindle Content .mobi file into the Documents folder on your Kindle drive. (It’s just like transferring a file to an external hard drive or a thumb drive, etc.)

2. If your Kindle device has a WiFi connection, you can use the free email address set up with your Amazon Kindle account and email your .mobi file to your Kindle via that email address. If in doubt as to what that email address is, login to your account / Manage Your Kindle. In Left sidebar, you'll see Your Kindle Account and below that, a number of choices, one of which is Personal Document Settings. Click that. A window opens, and you'll see at the top Send To Kindle Email Settings.

3. Click Learn More to read the instructions given by Amazon on how to set up the free Send-to-Kindle Email Settings under “Personal Document Settings” in your Amazon account. It's easy to understand.

4. Once you have your Kindle email address set up, just open your email app, create a message sending the email to your Kindle Email that you plan to use, attach the Kindle Content .mobi file, and click Send.

5. When you email a .mobi file to your Kindle account, you'll find the eBook listed in your Kindle Library under All Items. Just use the Actions button to select where you want to deliver the eBook. (This is for those of us who have multiple Kindle reading options, i.e., smartphone, Kindle, Kindle Fire, etc.)

6. Turn on your Kindle reader device so that it will receive the eBook just as if you'd bought it from the Kindle Shop. The book will download just like any other eBook purchase.

Actually, it takes less time to buy the book from Smashwords, download it to your PC, send it to Your Kindle Account, and download onto your device than it takes to read this.

Takeaway Truth

Now you can shop on Smashwords more often, knowing you can easily transfer the books you obtain to your Kindle.

Meet Main Street Author Joan Reeves

I've reduced the price of my Christmas Cinderella romance from $3.99 to only 99 cents for Christmas so I'm interviewing myself -- freaky, huh -- to tell you about it. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I decided to interview myself the way I had interviewed the Authors of Main Street, one of my group blogs.

Although I'm one of the Authors of Main Street, I was unable to participate in their box set Christmas on Main Street (See Remodeling Hell below). I tried to do my part by writing the Foreword as my contribution to the group effort and have promoted the box set and those authors who participated.

Indeed, the Christmas on Main Street box set is available at an amazing price -- only 99 cents for 11 Christmas stories. That won't wreck your budget, and it makes a great gift for your reading friends.
Give an Amazon Gift card or a gift card from your favorite ebook seller for the box set.

Remodeling Hell

I wanted to participate in the box set, but I've been moving since July, or so it seems. First, we moved everything into storage after selling our home. We moved most of my office up to our Hill Country home. We had bought a townhouse in Houston but couldn't move in until the remodeling is completed. Well, you know how that kind of story goes.

We ended up moving in before remodeling was completed so I'm living in remodeling hell. It's like one of those horror stories on HGTV. Every day brings more plaster dust and more things that have been found that need to be fixed. The dollar signs are spinning around behind my eyeballs like a manic slot machine.

Progress on the book I was finishing, Cinderella Blue, Book 2: San Antone Two Step, came to a screeching halt. Needless to say, I did not have time to write something new for Christmas on Main Street. So I wrote the Foreword for the box set.

Nobody's Cinderella

Although I'm not in the box set, I do have a Christmas book available. Nobody's Cinderella (A Christmas Romantic Comedy) is Book 1, San Antone Two-Step.

For a limited time, the price of Nobody's Cinderella has been reduced from $3.99 to only 99 cents.

Here goes my self-interview about this Christmas Cinderella story.

Good morning, Joan. *G* Welcome to SlingWords. Please tell us more about your book.

Darcy Benton is a Christmas Cinderella, and she's the oldest cliche in the world—a woman in love with her boss. Other than that, she's no-nonsense, practical, mature, and sober. She's just the kind of woman Chase Whitaker wants as head of accounting for his company. She's definitely not the kind of woman he wants in his bed.

Enter Darcy's meddling, matchmaking best friend who has a plan to transform Darcy into a hottie designed to attract Chase's interest. All it takes? A couple of little lies—and a wish on a Christmas star.

Darcy should have heeded that old advice: be careful what you wish for.

SlingWords: What inspired you to write this particular holiday story?

Joan: A really cold blustery December day I spent in San Antonio.

SlingWords: What is your favorite holiday memory?

Joan: When I was very small, my older brother and I got to open the presents under the tree as soon as Santa Claus had delivered them. We each got a Micky Mouse flashlight and spent the rest of the night shining the lights on the ceiling and making patterns in the dark. I've always thought flashlights make a great kid gift so I always give one to little kids. In fact, this year I have a box of little red flashlights on a keychain to give away.

SlingWords: Just about everyone has a holiday horror story. What's the worst Christmas you ever spent?

Joan: Like so many, it involves the death of a loved one. My beloved grandfather passed away on a Christmas Eve. He was 100 years old, and he had the best attitude about life. He had told me the summer before when I visited that it would be the last time he would see me on this side -- that he wouldn't be around on Christmas Day. (Prescience seems to be in my mother's family's DNA. The stories I could tell about things that many of us have "seen" prior to the event taking place!)

SlingWords: What's the title of your next individual book?

Joan: Cinderella Blue which is the sequel to Nobody's Cinderella. Like all my romantic comedies, it has romance, sex, humor, and heartwarming home truths. Cinderella Blue: Love means never having to say, "You're under arrest."

Buy Nobody's Cinderella


All Romance eBooks




Visit Joan Reeves Online

Website: www.JoanReeves.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/joanreeves
Joan's Blog: http://slingwords.blogspot.com/
Joan's Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/JoanReevesAuthor/videos

Takeaway Truth

Enjoy Nobody's Cinderella (A Christmas Romantic Comedy) and grab a gift card for a friend too.

Perfect Christmas Ornament for Writers

This ceramic Christmas Ornament: Snowflake is for readers and writers -- for anyone who loves the written word.

Available also in Round, Hexagon, Oval, and Landscape shapes -- the ornament is perfect for hanging on the tree or over your desk to remind you of the importance of words.

The ornament isn't just for writers but for anyone who loves the written word. Maybe it's also a good gift to remind someone in your life that the written word is powerful, and what you do is important.

Leo Rosten said: "Words sing. They hurt. They sanctify. They were the first immeasurable feat of magic."

Takeaway Truth

Now that's the importance of words.

12 Steps To Success

I wrote about the 12 Steps to Success for my local RWA chapter newsletter. I thought I'd share these steps with you too.

Whether you want a career as a writer, a bricklayer, an engineer, or a strong healthy body, these 12 Steps to Success apply.

Think about these steps. Think about them so deeply and so often that they seep into your consciousness.

Take 12 Steps

1. Dream.

You have to dream. If you're afraid of dreaming about what you want because you're afraid you won't get it, then you're already lost. Dream about what you want to gain. Make it a dream so rich in sensory detail that it's very nearly a virtual reality experience.

2. Set goals.

You must lay it on the line. Write down what you want to achieve. Then write down what you're going to have to pay to achieve it. We all pay, one way or the other. Maybe the price is working toward the goal when the rest of the family is watching television. Maybe the price is getting up an hour early or staying up when everyone else has gone to bed. Identify the price and ask yourself: "Am I really willing to pay the price?"

3. Develop work discipline.

Everything worthwhile can only be achieved through focused, consistent work. Think about it and establish how often you will work. Make a schedule and keep to it as if it were the most important appointment in your life.

4. Fake it until you make it.

Yep. That's just a short way of saying you need to behave as if you have already achieved that goal. Want to be a bestselling author? How does a bestselling author spend her day? Want to be sculptor? What does a sculptor do each day? Keep regular hours devoted to your goal achievement. Develop professionalism in whatever endeavor to which you aspire. Let others see you are dedicated to the goal. Believe it, and you'll see it.

5. Learn your craft.

Whatever it may be, know everything about it. Strive always to improve.

6. Practice your craft.

Start a project and complete it. Then do it again. And again.

7. Expose yourself to the best examples of your chosen career.

Meet those who are successful in that career. Ask for insight and guidance. Hang with those who have achieved what you want to achieve.

8. Market your work.

You eventually have to put your work and yourself in the marketplace. No one will ever discover you and what you can do unless you let them see you and your work.

9. Organize your work, your office, your time, your life.

Dedicate a space to your work. Set it up. Keep it workable. A cluttered desk is not a mark of genius, but of disorganization. Enjoy going to your special space because it means it's time for you to work on making your dream – your goal – real.

10. Manage your time.

If you plan to dedicate an hour to working on your goal, don't spend that hour emailing, talking on the phone, filing, or playing Solitaire. Use the time to achieve your goal – no matter how small or how large the block of time. Know how long it takes you to accomplish a certain task. Record your time on a calendar or journal every time you work.

11. Network.

Join in forums and subscribe to lists where others seeking the same goal congregate. Tweet or hangout on Facebook, but don't let social media keep you from goal achievement. The Internet is a wonderful place to meet like-minded individuals, but it can also be an enormous time suck. Don't forget to meet people in real life too. Share the joys and sorrows. Learn from them. Give to them so they can learn from you.

12. Celebrate.

Always celebrate your triumphs no matter how small. Don't wait for those big scores to pop the bubbly. Big scores don't come along too often. Celebrating the small victories helps you mark your progress and keeps you from burning out.

Takeaway Truth

You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything. So figure out specifically what you want, and go for it!

Enter Your Book Cover Art

Hey! Have you entered your book cover yet in the annual Judge A Book By Its Cover Contest -- informally known as JABBIC?

This prestigious contest sponsored by Houston Bay Area Romance Writers of America Chapter 30 celebrates the best in book cover art. The contest closes next month. If you haven't entered yet, read on. This is a contest you don't want to miss because it is open to self-published books as well as traditionally published books.


Books published during the calendar year 2013 by traditional publishing houses, ePublishers, Print-on-Demand publishers, or self-published.


Booksellers from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. All decisions of the judges are final.

  • Single title/Mainstream
  • Contemporary Series
  • Historical
  • Inspirational
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal
  • Sexiest cover
  • Young Adult

Midnight, January 15, 2014. (This means you must have uploaded your cover via the entry process by that time.)

Entry Fee

$15.00 USD. Fees are payable via PayPal or by check as directed during the entry process. (Credit cards will not be directly accepted by Houston Bay Area. You may use credit cards with PayPal, however.) One (1) entry fee per cover. You may enter as often as you like, but remember 1 fee per cover.

Entry Content
  • Front covers only which will be submitted electronically.
  • Cover art should be in JPG, GIF, or PNG format. No PDF files.
  • You may enter as many different covers as you wish, but each cover entered requires 1 entry fee.
  • Each cover may be entered in only one category.
  • If you know the actual artist's name, you can submit it with your entry. If you don't know the artist's name, you can simply leave that field blank.

Each winner in each category will be asked to submit a high-resolution image file for inclusion in the RWR ad which is the prize for winning.

Grand Prize

A full-page color ad in the April Romance Writers Report featuring the winners in all six categories.

To Enter JABBIC, just visit the Entry Page and follow the instructions.The entry process is easy, and the instructions on the page are clear.

Takeaway Truth

This contest has been around for many years and is respected in the publishing industry. The entry fee is small, and the honor of winning is large. Enter today.