Oh, the pressure of the purchase!

presentsMy Christmas list looks a little different this year. There are two new names on there – for the first time, I’m purchasing gifts for my kids’ significant others. Both kids have special people in their lives this year, and both are visiting/traveling with us for Christmas.
I’m looking forward to spending time with them and getting to know them better, but I have to say, there’s a little stress that comes with this. Will I be judged on the success of the gift? Will it be cool enough? Is it age-appropriate? The right color? The right style? Will I embarrass my child in some way? The pressure is on!
During this shopping quest I stopped a stranger in Macy’s to inquire about the person and age she’d picked up an item for. I whipped out my cell phone and took a photo of a potential gift for my daughter’s boyfriend and emailed it to her. Then called and debated the pros and cons of said item and got the thumbs up before finally purchasing the gift.
I’ve been waiting to wrap the other gift until I could get the other kid’s blessing. Strike one. Just found out this morning that it’s off the mark. Now, only a few days before the big day, I’m going to have to hit the shops again. Did I mention pressure? I think I’m armed with a better idea of her tastes, so hopefully one stop, and the mission will be accomplished. Then it’s on to the next step – spectacular wrapping! Wrap that shows good taste, and attention to detail and time invested in making it special. Whew!

The other gift-giving experience that caused some stress this year were the two group exchanges in which a participant gets to choose the gift (based on the wrapping) and then others can “steal” as the exchange goes on. Both my book club and a writers group I belong to did this. The object, of course, is to end up with an awesome gift. And, for me, to be one of the people who offers a good gift. I want the present I give to be desired! I want it to be stolen, perhaps repeatedly. And I want the person who receives it to be happy.
It’s terrible to watch the expressions of gift receivers and know that they don’t love what they got. To watch them eagerly display the gift in front of them for all to see, hoping that it will get stolen – and then to see the unwanted item sit there, overlooked for the rest of the festivities. A dud.
I’m happy to report that in both of these groups, my gift was stolen/traded at least once! Ahh, success!

Maybe I worry too much. But then again, who doesn’t like to receive the perfect gift?! If you’re still shopping, good luck! If you’re done, congrats! Hope all your gift giving and receiving is right on target! Enjoy the holidays!

Give them books

P1050936One of my all-time favorite Christmas gifts growing up was a complete boxed set of Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I still have them today, and they are a treasured possession. But over the years, I haven’t received many books as gifts. I suppose it’s hard for people to know exactly what I like or what I’ve read, but books are awesome gifts (hint, hint for friends and family who may be stopping by).

What could be easier to wrap than a book? And they stack nicely. Ooooh, a tower of books would look lovely under the tree! This year, I’ve discovered another fun way to give books. Fun, easy and inexpensive! By purchasing an ebook as a gift and printing out the coupon myself, I can easily tuck it into a stocking or add to a larger gift item. Know someone who enjoys curling up with a beverage and a good book? Tuck a tasty assortment of teas or coffee into a mug or cozy throw blanket along with a coupon for a digital book. Simple!

The other great thing, of course, is shopping from your computer. Especially if the weather happens to frightful where you are. And no shipping fees. This is a biggie for me. I hate to spend money on shipping!

So, while I’m writing, my gift book certificates are printing on my home printer. Easy, schmeasy.  Happy shopping and gifting . . . and reading! 🙂


p.s. A digital copy of my newest contemporary romance, Her Greatest Risk, is on sale Dec. 10, 11 and 12! That’s a great price for a delightful stocking stuffer!

buy on Amazon



Something for Everyone!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00031]I hosted book club last night, and, as usual, some people liked the book. Others, not so much. There was a difference of opinion on whether the book was well-written, whether the characters were fleshed out and well developed, and whether the plot was believable or too predictable.
That’s the way it is with books. One woman’s trash, is another’s treasure. There is rarely a right or wrong, good or bad. There are only opinions!
In my book club, some of us like real life-like dramas. Others like fantasy or science fiction. Some like cozy mysteries or non-fiction best. That’s one of the cool things about books – there’s something for everyone!

I enjoy reading slice-of-life books, and that’s what I tend to write. I recently created an ad for a couple of my romance books using the tag line “Romance that feels Real.” If you’ve looked at the homepage of my website, you know that I portray my characters as “someone you’d want to be friends with in real life.”
Other slice-of-life books that come to mind are Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner, Plainsong by Kent Haruf, and The Woman Next Door by Barbara Delinsky. These are all books about people, their lives, relationships, jobs, issues, etc. Like my stories, they present everyday situations that a vast number of readers can relate to. Some people hate that kind of book. It’s too close to reality, they say. They read to escape reality. They want to be transported to another world.
Luckily, like I said, there’s something for everyone out there!

I’ve recently received several new reviews for my novel The Storm Within. It’s about a woman living in a small town who has trouble coping with the death of her son and her husband’s request for a divorce. Her world is crumbling, and she turns to alcohol for relief. For some people, this is a depressing dose of reality. Even if the book is well-written, the characters seem believable, and the depiction of alcoholism is accurate, they can’t enjoy that kind of book. For me, the author, that’s unfortunate.
But, as reading goes, everyone has a different perspective and their own opinion. What one person found depressing, others find dramatic and realistic, and they form an emotional connection with the character and story. Whew! For me, the author, that’s an incredible affirmation.
It’s humbling and gratifying when readers write in a review things like this: “What I liked about this book was the fact that the way the two main characters were feeling was totally normal and the inner thoughts they had were similar to what we, normal people/not book characters, would have. It was as if was listening to my friend telling her story and the hard times she’s going through…” And, “the struggle to pull herself out of despair and depression and to stop drinking with the help of friends and her daughter is honest and touching.”

Basically, these readers found the story realistic. That makes me happy. I accomplished my goal. I made a connection. I know it’s not what everyone likes. Some readers will hate the book and feel the need to share their opinion with everyone. That’s part of the system. I’m just so grateful for the readers who take the time to let me and others know that the book seemed “real” and made an impression.

Here’s to finding the type of book that suits your moods and needs. Happy reading to all!