Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday Blog Hopping ~ And the Winners Are

Thanks so much to everyone for entering my contest for one of the ten copies of Adrienne's Ghost, a $25 Amazon gift certificate, and entry into the Blog Hop's grand prize of a Kindle Fire.

After a completely impartial and random selection process (implemented by my husband and son), I'm thrilled to announce the following readers have won a copy of Adrienne's Ghost.

Stephanie Abbott
Teressa Oliver
Heather Cox
Meghan Page

Sharon is also the winner of the $25 Amazon Gift Certificate!

I'm in the process of contacting winners individually, but if you see this first, please send me a note to leah(at)leahstjames(dot)com.

Thanks again to everyone who joined us on this blog hop. Congratulations to all our winners. I've had a great time, and I hope everyone else has as well.
Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Well, it's just after 7 a.m. on the East Coast of the U.S. My husband and I are up and about already, excited to start celebrating. Our "kids" (ages 27 and 23) are still fast asleep. We're making as much noise as we can to wake them "accidentally." So far no luck. :-)

We've been talking about favorites through this blog hop, and I couldn't let the event pass without sharing my favorite Christmas cartoon, and my favorite clip from that cartoon...

I'd love to hear what your favorites are.

Today is the last day of the Holiday Blog Hop, and the last day to enter the drawing for a copy of my paranormal romance novella Adrienne's Ghost (will be giving a total of 10). One of those 10 will win my "grand prize" of a $25 Amazon gift certificate, and all of my winners will be entered into the Holiday Blog Hop's contest for the super grand prize, a KINDLE FIRE!

If you'd rather not leave a comment, please send me an e-mail ( and let me know you'd like to enter.

Wishing you and yours a day blessed with joy, love and laughter.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Blog Hopping - Did you open any gifts yet?

If you celebrate Hanukkah, chances are you've opened at least one Hanukkah gift by now. But if you celebrate Christmas, you might be watching a growing pile of gifts under your tree, waiting for a chance to dig in. :-)

When I was growing up, we didn't open any gifts, not one, until Christmas morning. (Santa doesn't come until after midnight after all!) Typical children, my sister and I would wake our mother and grandmother around 5 or 6 a.m. (Actually, I remember waking Mom at 3 or 4 a.m. one year...she did send us back to bed.) I don't remember there being a lot of gift exchanging in school or at church or Girl Scouts, or anything like that, so we really did have to wait until Christmas morning for our new "stuff."

As I got older, though, things started to change. I was 19 when I met my husband and spent my first Christmas with his family. How shocked was I to find out I was dating a man whose family opened their gifts on Christmas Eve! Even worse was their custom to put all the opened gifts under the tree and wait until after New Year's Day to use any of them!

I'm sorry, but that's going too far...way too far! Why open them early and leave them sitting there for more than a week?! I didn't get it, and as soon as we married, that tradition changed. Not only do we (my husband and I and our kids) wait until Christmas morning to open our gifts, but we have no rules about waiting to use our new gifts. Once it's out of its wrapping, a gift is fair game. In fact, I opened two lovely gifts from co-workers this week, have already worn one and plan to wear the other one either today or tomorrow! Life is too short to waste it looking at your gifts! Am I right? :-)

What about your and your families? Are you gift watchers, content to savor what you received for awhile? Or are you like me, ready to dive in and put those gifts to immediate use?

Leave a comment to be entered into the drawing for a copy of my paranormal romance novella Adrienne's Ghost (I'll give out a total of 10). One of those 10 will win my "grand prize" of a $25 Amazon gift certificate, and all of my winners will be entered into the Holiday Blog Hop's contest for the super grand prize, a KINDLE FIRE!

If you'd rather not leave a comment, please send me an e-mail ( and let me know you'd like to enter.

Thanks for stopping by the Holiday Blog Hop!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Blog Hopping ... and Disappearing Days!

A terrible thing happened this morning when I got up. I looked at the calendar.

That's "terrible" because I saw the date and realized I'd done it again. I'd lost whole days, maybe weeks, into some vacuum of space time continuum, or something...whatever it is that makes time simply disappear!

Somehow in my brain, days pass, but not dates. I know that's probably a difficult distinction for many of you to grasp, but it's a common problem with me. I can't keep track of dates! (I remember dates, like birthdays, just not when they're "up" on the calendar!)

I blame a job I had about 20 years ago for this mental deficiency. I was working for one of the federal agencies, managing a program that recognized employees for length of service. They got small tokens (and I do mean small) for 10, 20, 30 years of service, etc., and it was my job to monitor those names and make sure the employees were duly recognized at the appropriate time. As a necessity, I was always working six months in advance.

Well, ever since then, dates are just a quasi-meaningless jumble in my head! I go to write a check, and my hand freezes on the date line. If it's December, I start to write June or July. (See? Six months ahead!)

Why do I bring this up now, while we're Holiday Hopping? Because I just realized it's December 19th! Less than a week from Christmas and I still have gifts to buy for about six people who are very special in my life. That's not enough time! Especially considering I don't have a clue what to get them. And several of them live hundreds of miles away! (I hate when I do this!)

I know I'm not the only person who waits until it's almost too late. How about you? Will you be scouring the pick-over shelves with me over the next few days, or do you have a stash of already wrapped gifts in some corner, ready to grab and distribute when needed? (You can tell me! I promise, I won't hold it against you! My own wonderful older sister falls into the latter category!)

Leave a comment to be entered into the drawing for a copy of Adrienne's Ghost (I'll give out a total of 10). One of those ten will win my "grand prize" of a $25 Amazon gift certificate, and all of my winners will be entered into the Holiday Blog Hop's contest for the super grand prize, a KINDLE FIRE!

If you'd rather not leave a comment, please send me an e-mail ( and let me know you'd like to enter.

Happy December 19th, everyone!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Blog Hopping ... and Busy, Busy, Busy!

Today is the third day of our Holiday Blog Hop, and it's Saturday! For many of us who work Monday through Friday, this is one of two days out of the week to get all those pesky errands done (shopping, cleaning). And this time of year we add all our holiday activities on top of extra shopping. How many of us buy gifts not just for family but for teachers and coaches and babysitters and hairdressers, for grab bags and gift exchanges...and the list goes on. It can be overwhelming! Then there are the parties and activities--choral and band/orchestra events, plays and pageants, special holiday parties at work and other organizations. (I'm exhausting myself just writing about it all!)

Just when I start to let the inner grump in me come out over all this busy-ness, I realize it's these activities that, in part, make this a special time of year for many in our culture. And even when I'm most stressed out, I know there are some events that bring me back to the center, to the reason I celebrate "the holidays."

When I was a little girl, our church held a candlelight carol service every year, where all the choirs, from youth to adult, participated. We all processed down the big center aisle in our robes, carrying candles (battery-operated for the little ones), singing one of the traditional carols. The smallest children were at the rear, and I remember looking at that line ahead of me, thinking it went on forever, and how special, and honored, I felt to be part of the celebration.

Just remembering those services brings that feeling of "specialness" back in my mind, and for a moment I can exhale.

Do you (or did you) attend or participate in any special holiday events that bring you back to your center? If so, I'd love to hear about them!

Either leave a comment on this blog, or send me e-mail ( to enter the contest for a copy of Adrienne's Ghost (10 to be given) and a $25 Amazon gift certificate. I'll pass on the name of my winners for entry into the Holiday Blog Hop's contest for the super grand prize, a KINDLE FIRE

Good luck, everyone...and happy holiday hopping!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Blog Hopping ... and Food!

Thanks to everyone who either stopped by or left a comment yesterday. I love hearing what other people think. :-) Winners to my contest will be announced on December 26.

As I might have mentioned, I've decided to talk about holiday themes throughout this event. Yesterday's topic was favorite holiday music. Normally I would have been spending a good deal of time yesterday thinking about what to write about next, but we were having a luncheon at my day job and everyone brought in their favorite dishes and desserts. I over-indulged a bit and went home quite full, to the point where I told my husband I wasn't going to eat dinner, he was on his own. As a peace offering, though, I did bring home a few pieces of one of the cakes (marble with chocolate mousse filling and really good butter cream icing...not that thick stuff that makes me think I'm eating pure lard! So yummy). At least I intended the cake to be for him....sorry, honey! :-)

I did manage to not eat dinner but my growling stomach woke me around 2 a.m., which got me to thinking about food. It finally occurred to me—that's a great topic for the holiday blog hop . . . favorite holiday foods!

In my house, it's not Christmas until I bake a giant batch of my husband's grandmother's Christmas Cookies. Grandma Rose was a tough German lady with a heart of gold. Every year she'd go into a baking frenzy at the holidays—fruitcake (yes, the real, home-made stuff), and all sorts of cookies, including this one that reminded me more of sweet biscuits than cookies. I'm not sure what the real name is; we only know them as "Christmas Cookies," probably because that's the only time of year she made them.

There are only a few ingredients, all simple staples from the cupboard, except for one—baker's ammonia. In Grandma Rose's heyday, it was called Hartshorne and was procured at the local drugstore because of the "ammonia" component. One year Grandma had shared this recipe with a friend who in turn made it for her family. When the friend's husband accused her of trying to poison him (with ammonia), Grandma had to go to court to testify on her friend's behalf. (I've always wondered what happened to that couple!)

If you'd like to try making them yourself, here is the recipe:

3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup milk
1-1/2 teaspoons baker's ammonia (or a "lump"
about the size of a quarter, in Grandma's day)
Flour – about 4 pounds
* Combine sugar with softened butter until well blended
* Add eggs, mix well
* Warm the milk in microwave to warm/hot (not scalding)
* Dissolve the baker's ammonia in the warm milk
*Add the milk mixture to the rest, mix well
*Add flour, a little at a time, until it doesn't stick to the hands or rolling pin
* Roll dough between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick (depending on preferences) and cut with cookie cutters
* Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350° about 8 minutes, or until light gold in color
* Cool and enjoy!

What are your family's must-have holiday foods?

Leave a comment to be entered into the drawing for a copy of Adrienne's Ghost (10 to be given) and a $25 Amazon gift certificate. My winners are also entered into the Holiday Blog Hop's contest for the super grand prize, a KINDLE FIRE! (Geez, I wish I were eligible!)

Or....I know not everyone wants to leave a comment (and sometimes technology stumps us!). To enter without leaving a comment, you can simply e-mail me ( with a note that you'd like to enter.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Blog Hopping

Hi, everyone! Welcome to the Holiday Blog Hop, and your chance to win prizes like free books and gifts cards...and a grand prize of a KINDLE FIRE!

Each day I'll be holding a random drawing to give away a copy of my ebook novella, Adrienne's Ghost. At the end of the "hop," I'll be drawing to send a $25 Amazon gift card!

How to enter, you ask? :-) Simple...everyone who posts a comment on my blog each day will be entered. Winners will be randomly drawn--one book per day, the $25 Amazon certificate at the end (drawn from all the winners). My winners will be automatically entered to win the grand prize (the Kindle Fire).

So let's get going!

Since this is a "holiday" blog hop, I thought it would be fun to talk about our favorite holidays things. I also love music, all kinds, and sing in my church choir when my life isn't too insane. (Believe me, it's for my enjoyment...not the choir's!) :-)

So for the next day or two, I'd like to hear about your favorite holiday music, from seasonal children's classics (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer), to music that makes you laugh (thinking Adam Sandler anyone?), or the traditional sacred songs.

Personally, I like them all, but my favorite of favorites would be sacred Christmas music. Put on a CD of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing O Come All Ye Faithful, and I'm back to my childhood, listening to my mother's albums on the record player. (Yes, I am that old.) :-)  Or the more recent Mary Did You Know? That one makes me cry. (Check out this home-made but powerful a cappalla version by Jordin Sparks.)

I'd love to hear from you. What's your favorite holiday music?

And don't forget to check out main Holiday Hop page to access other author sites. Remember, the grand prize for the Holiday Hop is a KINDLE FIRE! :-)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday ~ 12/11

Happy Six Sentence Sunday, everyone!

This week I'm back to Jack and Rachael, but back to the beginning, to Jack's first glimpse of Rachael. (I just love those first sightings!) He's channel surfing with the remote in his hand, starts to click, then sees her on the screen.

Before he could depress the button, the camera switched to the guest—the woman, the shrink—and he stopped mid-click, captivated. His hand fell to his side as he stared. The remote fell from his fingers.

Her hair, a pale mix of wheat tones, was swept back from a heart-shaped face, then twisted up like a 1940s starlet. She was beautiful. Far too beautiful to be discussing something as morbid as death and mourning.


As always, I hope you enjoyed these six! If you'd like to read more from Adrienne's Ghost, click here.
Be sure to stop by Six Sentence Sunday for more samplings from some amazing authors!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday ~ 12/4

Hello and welcome to Six Sentence Sunday, where writers share bits and pieces of their works.

This week I thought I'd take a break from Jack and Rachael to share six from a short story I'm writing for a little girl whom coworkers and I "adopted" for Christmas. She's 7 years old, loves playing dress-up, and really loves princesses. As one of my gifts, I thought it would be cool to write a short story about a princess (using her name, of course!). Since I've never written a story for a child, and I raised boys, not girls, I could sure use some feedback! I want this to be something she enjoys! I have no information about her family or living situation, and don't know whether or not her family celebrates Christmas, so I deliberately didn't write about the holiday.

So here's the setup. Princess Imani lives in a kingdom that has been warring with a neighboring kingdom for centuries. She's a friendly, loving child, and the thought of people fighting with each other for so long troubles her. One night three fairies come to her in a dream and send her on a mission that, ultimately, will bring the two peoples together.

Here are the six where the fairies first appear.


It was a long time before Imani’s eyes closed that night, a long time before dreams came, but they did come, in the form of three fairies. They were small, maybe only six inches tall, with shiny, gossamer wings that fluttered so quickly their edges blurred, like those of a hovering hummingbird. They were dressed in sparkling gowns that reached their ankles, the first in red, the next in blue, and the last in yellow, and the air around them shimmered in a rainbow of colors. Just like the lights she’d seen on the mountaintop.

In her dream Imani held out her hand, and they lighted, delicate little beings that weighed no more than a feather each. “Who are you?” she asked while her heart raced to keep pace with their wings.

What do you think? Too grown-up for a 7-year-old? Too scary a concept? Help!
I apologize that I didn't have something from a romance this week, but I hope you enjoyed these six anyway. I'd be appreciative of any feedback you'd like to share!
Be sure to stop by Six Sentence Sunday for more samplings from some amazing authors!