Christmas Reading

So far this holiday season (I started before Halloween this year) I’ve read ten Christmas novels. My very favorites are the classic “sweet” Regency romance novellas of Mary Balogh. She’s been reissuing these and I’m collecting them all over again on my Kindle. My top pick for holiday reading so far is A Christmas Bride, which is paired with A Christmas Beau. All Balogh’s books are excellent, well written and poignant. A Christmas Bride reached inside and grabbed my heart.

Balogh only writes historical romance, and she used to bring out a Christmas title every year, but this year she didn’t. Her newer books are not “sweet” (meaning they have sex scenes) and they are longer novels, not novellas, but they’re still delicious. Also re-read (so far) this year: A Christmas Promise and Under the Mistletoe.

Another favorite author, Anne Perry, also does a Christmas book every year. She’s another historical author. Her books are set in the Victorian era. This year she published A Christmas Gathering, which featured a wonderful minor character from the Charlotte Pitt series. Perry’s themes are often centered around forgiveness and loneliness. In this novella, a gentleman cannot forgive himself for a past failure and because he keeps this secret from his wife, they both feel that essential loneliness that somehow bites sharper during the holidays. But these are romances, so the endings are always happy.

Happily ever after is not just for historical fiction. I’m really fussy about what romance novels I read these days, but I always enjoy Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, especially the humor. Thus, I had to read the newest title Shopaholic Christmas. At first I was a bit worried. She’s married and rich now, so she won’t be having the debt dilemma of that first (and best) book in the series. It was a bit slow to warm up, but when it did, I laughed on almost every page. For sure a feel-good holiday book.

Brenda Novak is another go-to contemporary romance author (she writes mystery too) when I’m in the mood for a HEA. Her Christmas at Silver Springs was lovely. An ex-con and a rock star’s almost ex-wife seem like an unlikely couple–I was curious to see how Novak handled the ex-con character–but this prolific author skillfully navigated a tricky romance that includes kids who are missing their rock star dad.

I love books set in Nantucket and Nancy Thayer’s An Island Christmas gives readers a peek at this summer haven in the off-season. There was a hint of Scrooge in the ailing and elderly curmudgeon, but the island native heroine manages to capture his heart along with his more age-appropriate son.

I’ve read and enjoyed a few more Christmas titles, including the funny contemporary The 12 Daves of Christmas by K.L. Brady (fiancee leaves her at altar, the rat!) and Invitation to a Cornish Christmas, two historical novellas by Marguerite Kaye and Bronwyn Scott. All three of these authors are new to me. I loved Brady’s humor. Kaye surprised me with the sensual aspect of her lonely hearts characters–I think because I was raised on the sweet Regencies which are truer to the era IMO.

Romance readers know that these days even historical authors often go “all in” on the sex scenes. Kaye took her time with these lovers in Cornwall, so the sex is more a simmering slow boil. I really liked how she played with the ocean and swimming and incorporated them into the storyline. Makes me want to watch the series finale of Poldark, which I taped last night! Have not read Scott’s novella yet, but anticipate another hit of Cornwall after Poldark.

I know it’s a bit early, but here I am already reading for Christmas spirit and so want to say happy holidays to lovers of Christmas. ❤

Solving a Marketing Mystery

Blue Lake Christmas Mystery is on sale this month! 99 cents on Kindle started yesterday, Nook and iPhone also 99 cents starting today. I don’t know about other writers, but I’ve never earned a penny from Nook or from iPhone. My publisher makes my books available on all the eBook sites; it’s a mystery why only Amazon sells.

I decided to do this book promotion on my own with no help from my usual tech smart people. I got excited about the idea that I could just do something low key and not make it a huge thing. Something easy. Not too stressful. The mystery is why I don’t approach marketing that way all the time.

Instead I get visions of my landing page wallpaper featuring falling snow as a backdrop to a great tagline and beautiful book cover. That swirling snow looks so pretty, but I’d need to hire someone to do that. And also, I would usually start thinking about trying to place a BookBub ad to get more sales. If you’ve never done BB ads, let me just say it is stressful and can also be expensive.

What I want more of this holiday season is less stress. I cannot stress this enough. 🙂 Also I love reading Christmas novels. I don’t think I’m the only one…so I figured why not be nice and lower my price? I can’t be the only reader who loves a 99 cent deal.

So here’s a fact lots of people don’t know. As you get older, you will like to get into the Christmas mood earlier. This year, for the first time, I read my first (of many, I am sure) Christmas novel before Halloween. I used to be one of those people who thought it was best to wait until after Thanksgiving to make a peep about Christmas. But that’s when I was younger. Now I’m older, time moves faster, so I need more of it to finish up all the Christmas and holiday themed books and films I’ve bought or recorded.

I don’t actually know if all older people feel the way I do about getting started on the holidays earlier, but I do know that retail outlets have no problem beginning marketing earlier (it seems) every year. So I figured I could do the same. Easy research.

The other bit of easy marketing research comes from personal experience. I am so busy in December. Too busy to read as much as I’d like. I tend to stack Christmas novels in a TBR pile, and rather than look for a new book, I just pick from my handy book stack. Or, I’ll watch a holiday movie I recorded in November.

So this is my no-stress, commonsense, low key marketing plan for my Christmas novel. One other happy little coincidence (well happy for me, not for Katie Hill and other victims of revenge porn) that I didn’t have to lift a finger for is that even though my novel was published two years ago, revenge porn is a current hot topic, so my first tagline practically wrote itself.

While writing Blue Lake Christmas Mystery, I thought about all the ways it could be awful if someone you trusted and loved posted a video or nude photos of you online. Might you be so upset you’d kill him? Indeed, is that the reason a perfectly nice fictional guy was murdered at a Christmas party in my book? Because he wasn’t, underneath it all, quite so nice?

A Dangerous Holiday & An Excellent Film

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I love holiday novels. I’ve read several already and am waiting for the “Dangerous Holiday” box set with six Christmas novels, including my Blue Lake Christmas Mystery, which I still love. The box set also includes romantic suspense holiday novels written by some of my fellow Wild Rose Press authors. I am looking forward to reading those! The price is so good, too. $3.99 for six novels. It’s up for pre-sale at Amazon now and will be available on November 8. I have been waiting patiently.

I1000662_671145639691748_3695067060258692717_nn other news I’m writing like a madwoman for NaNoWriMo. So far, I’m meeting my daily word count, even with a day off yesterday for a date with my husband. We went out to dinner and then saw Bohemian Rhapsody with Rami Malek. We were both intrigued by Malek from his television series, Mr. Robot. The guy’s acting is compelling, so when we heard he was playing Freddy Mercury we just had to see it. I did not know Freddy was from Zanzibar, but I did know Rami is of Egyptian descent. That signified to me that he would nail it. With a set of false teeth for Freddy’s overbite, he was perfect.  P. S. It was a really great date.

Holiday Reading

I love the holidays and one of my favorite kick-offs to the season is reading Christmas-themed novels. I don’t usually read historical novels these days but adore sinking into Regency and Victorian settings this time of year. So far, every holiday book I’ve read, from contemporaries set in the States, to one in Cornwall, to the historicals that are strictly British, has been a top star experience.

It’s not always easy to find the perfect Christmas novel, so in case you’re like me and eat these up like candy, I’ll list the ones I’ve enjoyed below, in no particular order because they were all yummy.

Jane Feather’s delicious “A Holiday Gamble” was so much fun that after turning the last page, I immediately ordered her “Twelve Night Secrets.” They are both Regency set. I’m a high stickler for proper period novels and Feather gets it just right.

Also adored “Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery” by Jenny Colgan, “Away for Christmas” by Jan Ruth, “A Christmas Return” by Anne Perry, and “Winter Solstice” by Elin Hilderbrand.

Next on my list, I’m going to hunt up Jan Ruth’s other Christmas title, this one a set of short stories. Ruth is a new author to me, so she’s a particularly delightful find.

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Sending the blessings of the season, along with ten copies of my own 2016 Christmas novel Blue Lake Christmas Mystery to the winners of my Goodreads giveaway. If you missed the giveaway, it’s still on Kindle for 99 cents. Not sure how much longer that sale will last, maybe another day or two. My publisher puts those sale prices up at my request, but only for a few weeks.