"The Adventures of Lovable Lobo: Lobo’s Howliday" by C. L. Murphy

NEW RELEASE and GIVEAWAY
The Adventures of Lovable Lobo:
Lobo’s Howliday
by C. L. Murphy
The Adventures of Lovable Lobo: Lobo’s Howliday will be FREE to download from iTunes on 18 December only. You can also enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $100 iTunes gift card or PayPal cash! This book blast is brought to you by Mother Daughter Book Promotion Services.
Description
It’s almost Christmas and Santa finds himself in quite the predicament due to unintended consequences as a result of trying something new. Lobo, and his raven sidekick, Roxy, travel to the North Pole to help the jolly ole’ one and are guided by the Arctic animals. The colors of the season delight along the way and make for a howling good holiday. Can you howl Ho Ho Ho?
Book Trailer
Review
The Adventures of Lovable Lobo: Lobo’s Howliday is a children’s book written by C. L. Murphy. Lobo and his friend Roxy, the raven, are surprised when an owl comes to see Lobo with a special delivery. Within the bag is Arty, an Arctic mouse who has an urgent request from Santa. Santa needs Lobo’s help this year, and the three of them set off for the North Pole. Along the way, they meet an Arctic fox, who lets them stay the night in his den and a polar bear who transports them across icy water. An Arctic wolf accompanies them for the rest of the journey to Santa’s Village, where an Arctic hare is waiting for them. Santa has updated his method of delivering gifts on Christmas, but he’s got a problem that Lobo can help him with.
I was spellbound reading The Adventures of Lovable Lobo: Lobo’s Howliday. C.L. Murphy’s artwork is simply amazing. Each page is filled with images you can get lost in: lush green forests, sparkling night skies, snowy expanses, and the animals have personality and incredible appeal. If you’re lacking in Christmas spirit this year, no matter what your age, spending some time with Lobo, Roxy, and Arty will soon change your attitude. Lobo’s Howliday is also a great way to introduce a child to the Northern Lights, the Arctic, and the amazing animals that live there (see if you can find the Orca!). I’ve already recommended The Adventures of Lovable Lobo: Lobo’s Howliday to friends who have children or grandchildren. It’s a very special book. ~ 5 Star Review, Jack Magnus, Readers Favorite
About the Author
While new to the children’s book writing and illustrating scene, C. L. has been doodling her way through life since she won a school wide poster contest in the third grade. She’s had the pleasure of working as an artist in residence, creating cartoons and painting murals with the children at local elementary schools. She adores the wonder and curiosity of young children. For years, she filed picture book ideas away, until the reality of the empty nest syndrome sunk in and she decided to bring her favorite one to fruition.
She based the character Lovable Lobo on something very dear to her heart, a real wolf that she’s raised for the last 13 years. She’s felt the need to protect him his entire life, primarily due to the preconceived notions that wolves are to be feared.
She lives amongst the wildlife in an enchanted forest in the beautiful Oregon wilderness. She has always appreciated nature and animals have always played a major role in her life. She was that little girl who brought home the strays asking “Can we please keep it?” At an early age she realized her connection with animals by training a wild bluejay to appear on command to take food from her hand.
Check out her book series and discover that you, too, will find Lobo lovable.
Giveaway
Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $100 iTunes gift card (or PayPal cash) and a wolf stuffie.
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"Tumbleweed Christmas" by Beverly Stowe McClure

BOOK BLAST and GIVEAWAY
Tumbleweed Christmas
by Beverly Stowe McClure
Tumbleweed Christmas is a Christmas story suitable for children aged 3 to 7. You can read my review and enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a great prize. This book blast is brought to you by Mother Daughter Book Promotions.
Description
Christmas is the time for miracles, but sometimes, a child must make her own miracle, and one for her siblings.
Book Trailer
Review
Jackie’s family has no money for a Christmas tree or presents, and her father is sick in hospital. So Jackie sets out to buy a Christmas tree for her family with her last dollar, promising her little sisters, April and May, a surprise. She meets up with her friend Daniel who is having troubles of his own. Jackie’s mother has told her that Christmas is the season of miracles. Will Jackie and Daniel get their miracles this Christmas?
Illustrated by Bridget McKenna, Tumbleweed Christmas is a beautiful, heart-warming story about the belief in miracles, the love of family, and acts of selflessness. Although stated to be suitable for children aged 3-7, in my opinion it is suitable for older children as it deals with some harsh realities of life. Younger children may question the absence of in this story.
About the Author
Beverly Stowe McClure is a former teacher turned writer. When she was a kid, writing was the last thing on her mind. She loved music and played clarinet in the junior high and high school bands. She also was a majorette. She still plays the piano to relax. Her cats don’t appreciate good music, however, and run and hide when she tickles the ivories.
She lives in the country with Patches and Tiger (the cats), along with a variety of wild critters that stop by for a handout. Next to her sons, grandchildren, and great-grands, writing is her passion and joy. She also enjoys researching her family roots and snapping pictures of clouds, flowers, deer and birds, especially the roadrunner that visits on occasion and the hummingbirds that she feeds.
Giveaway
Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.
Links

Barbara Bretton Christmas Special

Barbara Bretton Christmas Special
Today we have a special feature on Barbara Bretton, introducing two of her Christmas books, The Year the Cat Saved Christmas and Mrs. Scrooge. Barbara joins us for a guest post on books and Christmas. There are also two giveaways to enter: enter the tour-wide Rafflecopter for a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite, or leave a question or comment for Barbara below for a chance to win an audiobook (2 per tour stop). This book tour is brought to you by Bewitching Book Tours. Please visit all the other tour stops as well.
The Year the Cat Saved Christmas
by Barbara Bretton
Description
Christmas used to be the happiest time of the year in the big house on the hill. But this year when the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Day, it will all be over. Can Sebastian, a wily Maine Coon cat, find a way to bring his people back home or will this holiday be their last?
Excerpt
As a rule, Sebastian endured Christmas with the good grace for which the best cats were known. He never indulged in merrymaking. His self-defined role as elder statesman precluded such a loss of dignity. Instead he held himself aloof and watched with great indulgence as his humans did the strangest things.
Once a year, around the first snowstorm, they opened the front doors wide and dragged in a big pine tree from outside. The same people who scolded him when he came in with muddy paws ignored bugs and dirt and sap and set the tree right smack in the middle of the living room carpet. They hung round, shiny objects from the branches and strung twinkling lights from top to bottom. Then, when that was all done, they placed boxes tied up with bows underneath the lowest branches.
Everyone who came to visit gathered around the tree to sing songs and drink something called eggnog and to give each other presents that weren’t half as much fun as catnip or a ball of yarn. All things considered, it was a most puzzling time of the year.
At Christmastime a cat had to learn how to cope or he’d find himself with a Santa Claus hat on his head and a ribbon around his neck, posing for some stupid holiday card picture that would embarrass him for the rest of his days. The dog and the parrot were perfectly happy to make fools of themselves and wear all manner of ridiculous outfits to make their humans laugh, but not Sebastian. The first person who tried to make him wear snow boots or a bow around his neck would find himself picking kitty litter out of his teeth for a year.
Sebastian did not suffer fools gladly. Christmas was not his favorite time of year. He preferred Thanksgiving, thank you very much, with that big juicy roasted bird on the table and lots of leftovers. When Christmas got too loud and confusing, he retreated to his hiding place in the Girl’s room where a cat in his golden years could sleep in peace and quiet until things got back to normal again.
This year, however, something was wrong. There was no tree, no beribboned packages, no friends and relatives gathered around singing songs to torment the ears of innocent cats. The Boy and Girl moped around in their rooms and not even talk of Santa Claus could make them smile. And what worried Sebastian most was that their parents weren’t smiling either.
When it all began, the Man slept downstairs on the sofa while she had the big bed all to herself. Sebastian, with the sensibilities of a diplomat, had tried to divide his attentions between the two of them but his twelve-year-old legs weren’t what they used to be. The stairs took their toll on his rickety knees and made him wheeze like a bulldog, so most of the time he slept on the landing so he could be near them both.
Finally the time came when he didn’t have to do that any longer, because the Man packed his bags and moved to something called a hotel.
The dog refused to believe anything was wrong. The parrot thought Sebastian was making a mountain out of a molehill, but Sebastian knew in his ancient bones that change was in the wind. He had been around since the beginning and he knew how it used to be when they were happy. There had been so much laughter in the little cottage that he couldn’t hear himself purr. Now he couldn’t remember the last time he’d even seen them smile.
He found himself dreaming about the little cottage where he’d first lived with them and how happy they’d been. It was as if the cottage itself were somehow calling him back home. The Woman used to sing while she cooked dinner and sometimes the Man came into the kitchen and drew her into his arms and they danced around the floor. Sebastian would even get into the act. He’d wind his way between their ankles until, laughing, they would bend down and stroke his fur just the way he liked it. Ah, those were the days …
He’d been young then and fast. A better mouser never lived than Sebastian in his prime. He’d bring his treasures home proudly and place them on the front porch but she never seemed to appreciate them the way Sebastian thought she should. As far as Sebastian was concerned, it didn’t get much better than dead mouse.
Sebastian didn’t do much mousing anymore and his birding days were a thing of the past. He hadn’t gone exploring in longer than he could remember, content instead to stay close to home in case he was needed. Sometimes he thought he caught the mourning doves laughing at him as he lay on the back steps and sunned himself. He pretended he didn’t notice them waddling by, but he did. It was a sad day when a proud cat like Sebastian couldn’t catch a mourning dove but time marched on and, like it or not, there wasn’t anything he could do about it.
Not long ago a sign appeared in the front yard and every day strange people marched through the house. Sebastian refused to acknowledge their presence as they peeked in closets and peered under the beds. He didn’t know exactly what was going on but he knew enough to understand his life was about to change.
He hadn’t seen his people together in a long time. The Man hadn’t been around much since the sign appeared. The other day Sebastian had heard his voice through the answering machine and he’d winced as the dog danced about with delight. Poor Charlie just didn’t understand the difference between a machine and the real thing. For a minute Sebastian had wished he didn’t either. He wanted to believe that his people would be together again and things would be the way they used to, but he was starting to suspect it never would.
When the big long truck pulled into the driveway that morning, Sebastian knew it was all over. He sat in the foyer and watched with growing dismay as the televisions vanished into the truck, along with the piano and dishes and even the paintings on the walls.
A snowy boot nudged his flank. “Move, fatso.”
Sebastian aimed a malevolent look in the human’s direction but he didn’t budge an inch. It was his house. Let old Snow Boots move.
“Hey, tubs.” The brown boot nudged a little harder. “I got a twelve foot couch to move. Get your furry ass out of my way.”
Sebastian considered turning the human’s pants into confetti but thought better of it. Instead he leaped onto the sofa with a surprising display of agility and curled up in the corner as if he hadn’t a care in the world. He was having trouble catching his breath but he refused to let on.
“Hey, lady!” the human bellowed. “Do something about this cat, will you?”
“Sebastian!” She appeared in the doorway. “Scat! Stay out of the moving man’s way.”
Sebastian arched his back and hissed. Scat? Since when did she tell him to scat? She’d never embarrassed him in front of strangers before and he didn’t like it one bit.
“Bad cat!” Her voice shook as if she’d been crying. “Don’t you ever do anything right?”
Her words cut him to the quick. He jumped down from the sofa, landing hard on his paws. Pain shot up his legs and along his back. He was getting too old for gymnastics. He waited for her to come see if he’d hurt himself but she turned away as if she’d forgotten he was even there. That hurt most of all.
“You gonna stand there all day, fatso?” the human asked, aiming that boot in Sebastian’s direction one more time. “You heard what the lady said. Now scat!”
Sebastian couldn’t help himself. There was only so much a cat could take before he defended his honor. With one graceful swing of his paw, he turned the moron’s right pants leg into a windsock and then he marched out the front door, tail held high. Maybe next time the human would think twice before insulting an innocent feline who was just minding his own business.
He strutted out onto the porch and surveyed his domain.
Snow was everywhere he looked: on the porch, the driveway, all over the yard. Sebastian’s whiskers quivered with distaste. He hated snow. It was cold and wet and reminded him of baths and other indignities. Maybe if he looked pathetic enough, she would come out and rescue him. An apology would be nice but he wouldn’t insist.
He waited patiently, watching as tables and chairs and beds and tables disappeared into the big truck parked in the driveway. It seemed a very strange thing to do and he was pondering the mystery when he suddenly remembered the last time something just like this had happened to him.
The Boy and Girl had been babies then, too little to do anything but sleep and eat and cry. Sebastian would have suggested they leave the babies behind but his people had a strange fondness for the little roundheads, a fondness Sebastian learned to share only after they were out of diapers. In his opinion, litter boxes made a great deal more sense.
He remembered that summer as if it were yesterday. All of their furniture had disappeared into a truck that time, too, only back then there hadn’t been quite as much of it, and most of what they had boasted claw marks.
“Don’t look so sad, Sebastian,” the Woman had said, chucking him under the chin. “You’ll love the new house!”
“Wait until you see the backyard, old boy,” the Man had said with a laugh. “Slower birds and plumper mice and lots of shady places to take a nap.”
Was that the last time they’d all been happy? The Man worked harder than ever and was home less and less. She worked harder too, sitting alone at the computer late at night while the Boy and Girl slept. Sebastian never saw them curled up side by side on the sofa or dancing in the kitchen or heard them laughing together in their room late at night.
The moving men bellowed something behind him. Sebastian scampered down the icy stairs and darted under the porch, just in time to avoid being flattened by work boots and the big couch from the den. Snow brushed against his belly and made him shiver. He hated the cold almost as much as he hated the three-cans-for-a-dollar cat food his people sometimes foisted on him. At his age he should be curled up in front of a roaring fireplace with a platter of sliced veal and gravy, claiming his rightful place in the family.
Wasn’t it bad enough that the Man didn’t live with them anymore or that sometimes she cried herself to sleep when she thought no one could hear her? Now they wouldn’t even have a home and everyone knew you couldn’t be a family if you didn’t have a place where you could be together.
The cottage on Burnt Sugar Hill.
For days Sebastian had felt the pull of the old place until the need to see that old house again was almost irresistible. And now he finally thought he knew why: the secret to being a family was hidden within its four walls and somehow Sebastian had to lead his people back home before it was too late.
Book Links
Mrs. Scrooge:
Rocky Hill Romance Book 1
by Barbara Bretton
Description
Single mother Samantha Dean doesn’t have time for Christmas. Or romance, for that matter. She is weeks away from opening her own catering business, the most important part of her plan to provide her certified genius daughter Patty with all the wonderful things she deserves.
Except Patty doesn’t want to go to a fancy boarding school. She wants a father and when she meets bartender Murphy O’Rourke at her fourth grade Career Day presentation, she knows she’s met the man of her mother’s dreams!
But can she convince her Mrs. Scrooge of a mom that it was time to give Christmas – and love – a second chance?
Excerpt
Patricia Mary Elizabeth Dean knew all about biology and how marriage and babies didn’t always go hand-in-hand the way they did in old movies and television sitcoms. She’d heard stories about the days when a young girl had to leave home if she became pregnant out of wedlock but those days were long gone by the time it happened to her mother Samantha.
Sam had stayed right where she was, safe and secure in her parents’ house in Rocky Hill, New Jersey. She finished her senior year of high school and, nine months pregnant with Patty, she marched up to get her diploma then marched back out of the auditorium and headed for the hospital in Princeton. Five hours later Patty was born, and it seemed that from her very first breath she had been looking for a man to be her father.
Her best friend Susan couldn’t understand it at all. “My dad is always telling me I can’t stay up to watch Letterman,” Susan had complained just last week. “He won’t let me wear nail polish or get a tattoo or even think about going to the movies with Bobby Andretti until I’m twenty-one. You’re really a whole lot better off with just your mom.”
Patty knew her mom was pretty special. Sam was independent and ambitious and she had always managed to keep a roof over their heads and good food on the table, even while she juggled school and work and taking care of Patty. But there was one thing Sam wasn’t very good at and that was romance.
Her mom said she didn’t have time for boyfriends and dating and maybe that was true but it seemed to Patty that it wouldn’t be long before she ran out of time. Patty had heard women her mother’s age talking about their biological clocks and how all the good men had been snapped up while they were busy building careers and she hated to think her mom would end up old and lonely with a dozen cats.
Not that Patty didn’t like cats but … 
And so it was that she decided to take over the quest.
There had been a few good prospects but nobody she could imagine becoming part of her family until the day Murphy O’Rourke walked into the classroom to give his career-day presentation, and she knew her search was over.
Murphy O’Rourke wasn’t handsome, although his sandy brown hair was shiny and his hazel eyes held a friendly twinkle. He wore a brown polo shirt with a corduroy sport coat that was frayed at the elbows—and Patty couldn’t imagine him sewing on those wimpy patches Susan’s dad had on his corduroy sport coat. He didn’t have a fistful of gold rings or ugly puffs of chest hair sticking out of his shirt, and his voice didn’t go all oily when he talked to women. When Mrs. Venturella introduced him to the class he didn’t try to be funny or cool or any of the thousand other things that would have been the kiss of death as far as Patty was concerned.
He smiled at them as if they were real live people and said, “Good morning. I’m Murphy O’Rourke,” and something inside Patty’s heart popped like a birthday balloon.
“That’s the one!” she whispered to Susan. “He’s perfect.”
Susan’s round gray eyes widened. “Him?” The girl looked down at the fact sheet in front of her. “He hasn’t even been to college.”
“I don’t care. He’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.”
Susan wrinkled her nose. “He’s old.”
“So is my mother. That’s what makes him so perfect.”
“I liked the fireman,” said Susan. “Did you see those muscles!” The girl sighed deeply and fluttered her eyelashes, and Patty could barely keep from hitting her best friend over the head with her math notebook.
“The fireman was stupid,” said Patty. “He didn’t even understand the theory behind water-pressure problems encountered fighting high-rise fires.”
“Patty, nobody understands things like that except you.”
“The nuclear physicist from M.I.T. understood.”
“Then why don’t you think he’s the right man?”
“Because he called me ‘little lady’ when he answered my question on the feasibility of nuclear power near major urban centers.”
“But he was cute,” said Susan. “He had the most darling red suspenders and bow tie.”
“I hate bow ties.”
Susan made a face. “Oh, you hate everything, Patty Dean. I think you’re about the snobbiest girl I’ve ever -“
“Patricia! Susan!” Mrs. Venturella rapped her knuckles sharply against the chalkboard at the front of the room. “If your conversation is so fascinating, perhaps you’d be willing to share it with the rest of the class.”
Susan’s cheeks turned a bright red and she slumped down in her chair. “Sorry, Mrs. Venturella,” she mumbled.
Patty found herself staring up at the twinkling hazel eyes of Murphy O’Rourke and suddenly unable to speak.
“Patricia,” warned Mrs. Venturella. “Do you have something to say?”
Murphy O’Rourke winked at her and before she knew it, the words came tumbling out. “Are you married?”
All around her the class was laughing but Patty didn’t care. This was important.
O’Rourke looked her straight in the eye. “No, I’m not.”
“Do you have any kids?”
“No kids.”
“Do you -“
“That’s enough, Patricia.” Mrs. Venturella turned to O’Rourke and gave him one of those cute little “I’m sorry” shrugs Patty had seen the woman give Mr. MacMahon, the phys ed teacher with the hairy chest. “I apologize, Mr. O’Rourke. Patricia is one of our advanced students and she has an active curiosity.”
“I make my living being curious,” he said, then crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against Mrs. Venturella’s desk. He looked straight at Patty. “Go ahead. Ask me anything you want.”
“On the newspaper business,” said Mrs. Venturella, with a stern look for Patty, who still couldn’t speak.
“Do you make a lot of money?” Craig Haley, class treasurer, asked.
“Enough to pay my rent,” said O’Rourke.
“Did you ever go to China?” asked Sasha D’Amato.
“Twice.” He grinned. “And I was thrown out once.”
Danielle Meyer held up a copy of the New York Telegram. “How come I don’t see your name anywhere?”
“Because I quit.”
Patty was extremely impressed: he didn’t so much as bat an eye when Mrs. Venturella gasped in horror. “What do you do now?” Patty asked.
“I’m a bartender.”
The only sound in the classroom was the pop of Susan’s bubble gum.
“Look,” he said, dragging his hand through his sandy brown hair, “I didn’t mean to misrepresent anything. When you guys called and asked me to speak at the school, I was still a reporter for the Telegram. This is a pretty new development.”
“Why’d you quit?” Patty asked. If there was anything her mom hated, it was a quitter. She hoped Murphy O’Rourke had a good reason for giving up a glamorous job as a New York City reporter and becoming a run-of-the-mill bartender, or it was all over.
“Artistic freedom,” said Murphy O’Rourke.
“Bingo!” said Patty.
She’d finally found her man.
Book Links
Guest Post by Barbara Bretton
Do you remember the moment when you first learned to read? That magical moment when the random letters on the page suddenly came together into words, words that triggered images and told stories that would linger in your mind forever?
To be honest, I can’t recall a time when I didn’t read.  I seemed to have slipped seamlessly from staring at the pictures in my Little Golden Books to devouring the words on the pages as fast as my tiny fingers could turn the pages. My parents said I made that magical transition when I was around three and a half which means reading has been a major part of my life for three score years.
The first book that imprinted itself on my child’s brain was Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nick. We lived around the block from the house where Moore lived and each year on a night in early December, the students of St. Bartholomew’s gathered at the park that now stood there and celebrated the lighting of the town Christmas tree. One year I was the lucky student chosen to read the poem to the crowd gathered for the ceremony and I can still remember the wonderful ripple of excitement I felt as I uttered the final words, “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!” Words I’d first learned from the pages of a book I cherish still.
For me, Christmas is all about books. And when the book in question is a holiday story – well, it just doesn’t get any better than that for me.
I hope you’ll enjoy my selection of holiday stories. May the season be merry and bright for you, now and always.
About the Author
Oh, how I hate bios! All of that deadly dull information about name (Barbara Bretton) and date of birth (June 25) and geographical data (born in New York City; lives near Princeton, NJ), marital status (many years married), and hobbies (who has time??). How do you gather up all of those dull, dry facts and turn them into something interesting?
No wonder I tell lies for a living.
I considered weaving a story for you about life on a houseboat on the French Riviera. Or maybe my years as a concubine, hidden away in a golden pleasure palace in the shimmering desert. Then I decided to do the unthinkable and tell you the truth.
When I sold my first book and my life changed forever. I sent in my manuscript on Thursday February 21, 1982 and four days later the telephone rang and I heard the amazing words, “We want to buy your book.” How I wish you could have seen me. I was standing by the kitchen door of our North Babylon house, the picture of cool sophistication, as I listened to Vivian Stephens explain the terms of the deal to me. You would have thought I’d sold a first book every single day of my life. Yes, I said. Sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for calling. I look forward to our association. That cool sophistication hung on until I hung up the phone, took a deep breath, then promptly threw up on my shoes.
I was thirty-one years old, unagented, unschooled, unfamiliar with anything to do with the business of publishing. To put it mildly, I was in shock. My husband was working in Manhattan at the time (and finishing up his degree at night) so it would be hours until I could break the news to him. This was too exciting to waste on a phone call. I wanted to see his face when I told him that my dream had finally come true — and came with a $6000 advance!
He pulled into the driveway at midnight. I was waiting in the doorway, holding a bottle of champagne and two glasses. I didn’t have to say a word. He knew right away and the look of joy and pride in his eyes warms me now, years later, long after the advance faded into memory.
A lot has happened to me in the years since that first sale. I’ve learned that this is a difficult and demanding business (it takes a tough writer to write a tender book) and that I am happiest when I am most ignorant. I’ve also learned that a good friend, a writer and pal who truly understands, is worth her weight in good reviews and royalty checks.
I fell madly in love with Skye O’Malley in early 1982 and wrote an unabashedly gushy fan letter to our beloved Bertrice Small. By the time Sunny answered, I had joined the ranks of the published and Sunny became friend and mentor, guide and confidant. She has held my hand through broken dreams, disappointments, family illnesses, and accepted my bizarre need to go underground from time to time with great affection and understanding. Over the years I’ve come to understand the difference between the writer and her work, that loving the book doesn’t guarantee that I will love the author. But what a joy it is when you discover that the author of a beloved favorite is even more wonderful and witty and wise than the characters she creates.
So this bio is for you, Sunny, for being the best of friends during the worst of times and – even more wonderful – during the good times as well.
And now for the statistics:
Barbara Bretton is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of more than 40 books. She currently has over ten million copies in print around the world. Her works have been translated into twelve languages in over twenty countries.
Barbara has been featured in articles in The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Romantic Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Herald News, Home News, Somerset Gazette,among others, and has been interviewed by Independent Network News Television, appeared on the Susan Stamberg Show on NPR, and been featured in an interview with Charles Osgood of WCBS, among others.
er awards include both Reviewer’s Choice and Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times; Gold and Silver certificates from Affaire de Coeur; the RWA Region 1 Golden Leaf; and several sales awards from Bookrak. Ms. Bretton was included in a recent edition of Contemporary Authors.
Barbara loves to spend as much time as possible in Maine with her husband, walking the rocky beaches and dreaming up plots for upcoming books.
Author Links
Giveaways
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for your chance to win one of two Kindle Paperwhites.
Barbara is also giving away two audiobooks (digital downloads – winner’s choice) per tour stop. You can see the available audiobooks at Audible. For your chance to enter, please leave a question or comment for Barbara below.

"Christmas with Patchy and Calico" by Greta Burroughs

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEA
Christmas with Patchy and Calico
by Greta Burroughs
Christmas with Patchy and Calico by Greta Burroughs is a great gift idea for the kids. You can even enter the Books Direct Christmas Giveaway for your chance to win a copy!

Description
Christmas is a special time for kids of all ages and in Christmas with Patchy and Calico, the lovable dog and cat discover the true spirit of the holiday season. Through their many adventures, the two friends learn that giving and sharing are just as much fun as receiving presents.
In one story, making a snowman should be a fairly simple job, but not for these two. Patchy decides to show off and accidentally becomes the world’s first walking snowdog.
Then when all the Christmas presents mysteriously disappear, Patchy and Calico become detectives. They track down the gift snatcher and come face to face with the bully who stole all the gifts from underneath their Christmas tree.
In other adventures, the two friends find a wealth of chestnuts and are given lots of treats. What Patchy and Calico do with all the chestnuts and treats will teach children how simple gifts can make both the giver and receiver very happy.
Preschoolers up to elementary-aged children (and adults too) love the adventures and misadventures of the two title characters. The humorous stories, illustrations, and simple questions at the end of each story will entertain kids while teaching them valuable lessons on sharing, caring and giving while spreading Christmas cheer.
Excerpt
The next day, the two friends went for their usual walk, but this time the dog carried a bag with him.
“What are you going to do with the bag, Patchy?” asked Calico.
“I’m going to do some Christmas shopping. Daddy likes chestnuts, right?”
“Oh yes, he really likes chestnuts,” answered the cat. “Daddy likes to roast them in the fireplace.”
“I know where there’s a chestnut tree and I’m going to get some nuts for his Christmas present.”
“That’s a very smart idea, Patchy,” said the smiling cat.
When they got to the tree, the dog found a lot of chestnuts and filled his bag, full up to the top.
On their way back home, Calico heard a strange noise coming from high up in a tree. She stopped and listened.
“Patchy, it sounds like someone is crying. Can you hear it?”
“Yeah, I wonder what’s wrong.” The dog looked up and saw a squirrel, a very sad squirrel. “Why are you crying?” he asked her.
The squirrel looked down at the two friends and said between sobs, “All of the nuts I stored in this tree have disappeared. Somebody took them. Now I don’t have anything to feed my family this winter.”
Patchy looked at his bag and then looked at the sad squirrel. “I’ll share some of my chestnuts with you. I don’t want your family to go hungry this winter.”
“Oh, thank you!” squealed the squirrel, running down the trunk of the tree. She gathered a bunch of nuts out of Patchy’s bag and took them back up to her hiding place.
She poked her head out of the hole and said, “My name is Sandy and I have a big family. May I have a few more chestnuts?”
“Of course, Sandy,” Patchy replied.
The hungry squirrel gathered up what she thought would be enough to last the rest of the winter. It did not leave many nuts in the dog’s bag.
“Thank you for sharing with me,” said the squirrel who was now very happy.
“Merry Christmas,” Patchy said as he waved goodbye to Sandy.
The cat had been quietly watching her friend. “Patchy, I’m very proud of you for sharing your chestnuts.”
“Calico, you were right when you said that giving presents is as much fun as receiving them. That’s what Christmas is all about: sharing, giving and helping others,” replied Patchy. “I’m going to go back and pick up some more chestnuts. There are still a lot of them on the ground. Maybe we can find some other animals to share them with.”
So that is what Patchy and Calico did for the rest of the day. They gave Christmas presents to all of the squirrels, raccoons, possums and deer they could find.
It took a lot of trips back to the chestnut tree to refill Patchy’s bag, but the two friends did not mind. They were pleased. Sharing and giving made them happy.
Review
This is the third Patchy and Calico book I’ve had the pleasure to read to my son. It’s a perfect Christmas book for kids and adults. There’s a lesson in every story about the true meaning of the season. Patchy learns the meaning of giving … even when you’re a dog and have no money. All it takes sometimes is a small gesture, something from the heart. Follow Patchy and Calico’s adventures as they explore the winter wonderland outside their window and, yes, get into all sorts of trouble. They even teach a bully that anyone can be a friend, if they only try.
Personally, I like this series because not only do they have questions at the end of each chapter but there are plenty of opportunities within the chapter to have discussions with your child. If you haven’t read their other adventures, I recommend reading them with your little ones.
About the Author
Greta Burroughs loves to read. No matter where she is, there is always a book close at hand. Her love of reading began at an early age and blossomed over time to include many different genres, her favorite now being fantasy.
As a preschool and elementary school teacher, Greta tried to instill the joy of reading in the children she worked with. Books were an important part of her classroom and story time was the highlight of the day.
It has been a while since Greta was in a classroom but she had lots of experience in reading to children of various ages and remembers what they enjoyed listening to. She tries to incorporate that knowledge into her work as an author and believes it makes her a better writer of children’s and young adult books.
She now resides in South Carolina with her husband, Robert and two dogs. Greta has six books published at the present time; three children’s books in the Patchwork Dog and Calico Cat series, two MG/YA fantasies entitled Gerald and the Wee People and House on Bo-Kay Lane, and a nonfiction account of her experiences with an autoimmune blood disorder called ITP – Heartaches and Miracles.
Links

Books Direct Christmas Giveaway

Books Direct Christmas Giveaway
I am running a special Christmas giveaway featuring books that have previously made an appearance on this blog. You can find out more about the books and their authors by clicking on the links.
Thank you to all the authors for their kind donations. Authors, if you have had a book featured on this blog, you can still contribute to this giveaway until 22 December. Please email me if you’re interested.
Merry Christmas!
Lynda
Giveaway
Enter the giveaway for your chance to win one of the following ebooks:
Books Direct – Featured ebook(s) to the value of $5 from Amazon.com
Amanda Green –
My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me
Amanda Green – 39 (Memoirs of Amanda Green)
Monique Rockliffe – The Door
Monique Rockliffe –
The Sword Bearers Books 1-3
Christoph Fischer –
The Luck of the Weissensteiners
Christoph Fischer –
Sebastian
Christoph Fischer –
The Black Eagle Inn
J. J. DiBenedetto – Dream Student: Dreams Book 1
Hunter S. Jones – Fables of the Reconstruction
Hunter S. Jones – September Ends
K. P. Ambroziak –
The Fifth Empire: The Journal of Vincent du Maurier
K. P. Ambroziak – A Perpetual Mimicry

John Lansing – The Devil’s Necktie
Bart Hopkins Jr. –
Sign Changes
Paulette Mahurin – The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap
Paul R. Hewlett –
Lionel’s Grand Adventure: Lionel and the Golden Rule
Paul R. Hewlett –
Lionel’s Christmas Adventure
DJ Edwardson –
Into the Vast
DJ Edwardson – The Jammer and the Blade
Jude Ouvrard –
Wonderland (Fall Fires)
Ben Woodard – A Stairway to Danger
Ben Woodard –
Steps Into Darkness
Grant Overstake –
Maggie Vaults Over the Moon
Kea Alwang –
Treehugger (Based on a Dream #1)
Wendy Cartmell –
Steps to Heaven
Justine Edward –
Shine
Sarah Michelle Lynch –
A Fine Profession: The Chambermaid’s Tales Part One
Kathryn Elizabeth Jones – Marketing Your Book on a Budget
Greta Burroughs –
Gerald and the Wee People
Greta Burroughs –
Patchy and Calico’s Summer Vacation
Greta Burroughs – Christmas with Patchy and Calico
Lexi Revellian –
Ice Diaries
Lexi Revellian –
Replica
Lexi Revellian –
Torbrek and the Dragon Variation
Denele Pitts Campbell –
I Met a Goat on the Road
Billy Wong –
Iron Bloom
K. R. Hughes and T. L. Burns –
Fateful Night
Chris Robertson –
My Yellow Umbrella
Gaelen VanDenbergh –
Running Against Traffic
Rhonda Patton – African Safari with Ted and Raymond
Maria Savva – Coincidences
Mary Ann Bernal – The Briton and the Dane: Concordia
Kim Cresswell – Reflection
Kim Cresswell – Lethal Journey
C. Martin Stepp – Walking Backwards
C. Martin Stepp – Two Thursdays
T. Aramis Barron – Roaming Cadenza and Dustland Requiem
Michael John Sullivan and Susan Petrone – The SockKids Meet Lincoln
Carrie Elks – Halfway Hidden





"All I Want for Christmas is You" by Lisa Mondello

FREE Kindle Edition
All I Want for Christmas is You
by Lisa Mondello
All I Want for Christmas is You is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. It is also currently FREE, so make sure you grab your copy. Author Lisa Mondello stops by today for an interview and talks about Her Dakota Man, the first book in her new Dakota Hearts series. Make sure you also visit all the other tour stops.
All I Want for Christmas is You is the first book in the Fate with a Helping Hand series. Also available in this series: The Marriage Contract, The Knight and Maggie’s Baby, and Tempting Fate (Fate with a Helping Hand Box Set).

  

Description
Sometimes fate needs a little hand…
Santa Claus is going to have a rough season… Lauren Alexander is raising her daughter alone. Abandoned by her family for her decision to keep her daughter Kristen, she has done a pretty good job for the last six years. Or she thought she had. That’s why she is crushed when little Kristen gives up her wish for a toy or goodie and instead asks Santa for a present for her mother. She wants Santa to bring a Daddy. Delivering Daddies isn’t Santa’s bag.
But this Santa has a plan …
Kyle Preston knows what it is like to be abandoned too. Luckily he found the support of loving adoptive parents and has turned himself into one of the most successful Real Estate developers in town.
Building a house is easy. Building someone’s trust is a whole other story. But with a little helping hand, a little Christmas magic can make all the difference in the world.
Excerpt
“You don’t have to be afraid. This will explain it all. I promise you.” He smiled warmly and Lauren wanted to trust him if only to believe in simple kindness.
With shaking hands, she took the piece of paper, warm from being in the pocket close to Kyle’s body. She held it up straight so that she could see Kyle while reading the words on the paper.
“Dear Santa…” she read out loud, then read the next part silently. “Oh, no,” she groaned.
“I know. That’s just how I felt.”
Lauren shot him a skeptical glance. “How did you get this?”
“Kristen gave it to me.”
“That’s impossible. Mrs. Hopkins just helped her with it this afternoon and-“
“And she gave it to me in the Mall,” Kyle finished for her.
She looked at him quizzically, still trying to comprehend the course of events leading up to his seizure of her daughter’s precious note.
“It’s not that hard to figure out, Lauren,” Kyle said warmly.
His dark eyes gleamed with the light from the lamppost. He wore no hat to protect his head from the falling snow. Now his hair was filled with powdered flakes, matting it down.
His grin was bright and wide as he informed her, “I’m Santa Claus.”
Review
All I Want for Christmas is You is a gem of a book. Kristen wants a daddy for Christmas and she’s picked Kyle. While Kyle struggles to convince Lauren that he is the answer to her heart’s dreams, he must also come to terms with ghosts of his own. Lauren can’t give in to anything less than true love, it wouldn’t be fair to her daughter or her heart. Can Kristen’s Santa Claus come through with the daddy she wants, the man her mother wants and the family Kyle wants? From the moment Kristen sits on Santa’s lap until she gets her Christmas wish, this book is one page after another of emotion, love, and good clean fun. Lisa Mondello has made her debut a sparkling one. All I Want For Christmas is You is not to be missed, no matter what time of year it is.
Interview With the Author
Hi Lisa, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, Her Dakota Man and for giving readers a chance to pick up your book All I Want for Christmas is You for FREE!
Which writers have influenced you the most? There are too many to list and I’d get myself in trouble if I tried.
What age group do you recommend your book for?My books are adult, so 18 to 108 will enjoy them.
What sparked the idea for this book? I love small towns. I’ve lived in small towns my whole life. My series Texas Heart, while in Texas, has that same small town flavor because that’s what I know so well. My small town in Massachusetts was hit with a tornado two years ago. Massachusetts is ranked #47 on the list of states likely to have a tornado, so it was quite a shock for us. It’s taken a lot of time to rebuild and there have been struggles for a lot of people. So I wanted to write a series about a community that goes through that same struggle, but I didn’t want it to be Massachusetts because my Fate With a Helping Hand series is all set in Massachusetts. I’d read about devastating weather in South Dakota and decided to set the story there and write the story about a family, their struggles in life and their struggle to rebuild their town devastated by the harsh weather that hit that community that year. Wonderful human kindness comes out of tragedies. We see the devastation on the news, but we don’t always see the humanity that helps heal it.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel? Usually an opening scene or a conflict. I’m a puzzle writer, which means I write my stories completely out of order and piece them together like puzzles. So strong conflicts or emotional upheaval will come to me first and that becomes the basis of how I write the story.
Very interesting, Lisa. What was the hardest part to write in this book? Juggling time. It’s always that way with me because my house is Grand Central Station with activity most of the time.
How do you hope this book affects its readers? I don’t write Shakespeare. I write pure entertainment books so I hope that readers will read this story, maybe be touched by something in them, but be entertained. It’s hard to know how a piece of work will be viewed by different people. I’m always surprised when a reader emails me about something in a book that I didn’t think was a big deal, but it was to them or it touched them deeply. I created the story and wrote it, but it’s an ongoing discovery in how people interpret that story.
How long did it take you to write this book? The drafts of Dakota Hearts were all written first and then I revised each of them. The revisions have taken me anywhere from 6-8 weeks per book. I wrote them this way because I knew from the get-go that it was going to be a series and I wanted to make sure that things that I added in book 4 would be introduced in book 1 and so on.
What is your writing routine? I don’t have one. I have always worked at home and have a large family so I have to be flexible. When the kids were young, I used to write mainly at night. Now that they’re older and driving, I worry more. LOL I write during the day, but then when the family is around (which is at odd times during the day) I stop what I’m doing so I can have time when them. I don’t ever want to be so involved that I forget about my world around me. But there are times I do become a hermit when I’m on deadline.
How did you get your book published? Her Dakota Man was published via the self-publishing platforms at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and iTunes. I had been traditionally published with Avalon Books and Harlequin Books, but decided to start self-publishing some books two years ago and the response was amazing. The follow-up book, Badland Bride, is now available for pre-order at Amazon.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer? Write, write, write. Then finish what you write. Too many people have the desire and start, but they don’t finish. You can’t publish unless you finish something.
Too true. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Spend time with my family. Watch Project Runway and Long Island Medium. Love both of those shows. I love going to the movies. I’m a huge movie fan. I’d rather watch a movie than watch a television show.
What does your family think of your writing? I’m blessed with having a very supportive family. They think it’s pretty cool.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood. Did you enjoy school? Not really. I wanted to be doing anything but school.
Did you like reading when you were a child? Not as much as I should have. I loved writing, which I was always doing, and playing my guitar.
What was your favorite book as a child? Hmm, how old are we talking? There were favorites at different times in my life. But one of my earlier romance books that really stayed with me was the book Always by Trevor Meldal-Johnsen. It’s a fabulous reincarnation romantic suspense!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I just wrote. I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision for me.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing? I don’t know. I’m a romantic though, and not in the champagne and roses way. I have always loved great romance stories. So it was natural for me to write romance.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? I love hearing from readers. Sometimes they just like to tell me they enjoyed one of my books, which never gets old. Sometimes they give me a little glimpse into their life and I always enjoy that. Sometimes they tell me that they can relate to something they read in the story because of a difficult time in their life, or that reading my book helped them while dealing with a serious illness they had or getting through a serious illness with their loved ones. I especially like those and knowing that my story helped them forget about their worries for a short time. If I can make someone smile or laugh or just entertain them, I’ve done my job!
That’s great, Lisa! What can we look forward to from you in the future? I’m finishing up my Dakota Hearts series and plan to have the first four books in the series available to readers by the end of January. Book 5, Her Dakota Bride, will follow in February or March. In between, I will be releasing book 5 of my Texas Hearts series. It’s called Leaving Liberty. I plan on continuing both of those series through 2014 and adding another story to my Fate with a Helping Hand series. Too many stories in my head. So little time!
Well, thanks for taking the time out of your busy life to stop by today, Lisa. Good luck getting all those stories out!
About the Author
Lisa Mondello (L. A. Mondello) has held many jobs in her life but being a published author is the last job she’ll ever have. She’s not retiring! She blames the creation of the personal computer for her leap into writing novels. Otherwise, she’d still be penning stories with paper and pen.  Her first book, All I Want for Christmas is You, was the winner of the Golden Quill contest for Best First Book and to date has had over 750,000 downloads worldwide.
She is currently the author of fifteen novels under the names Lisa Mondello and L. A. Mondello.
Links

"The Christmas Owl" by Angela Muse

REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
The Christmas Owl
by Angela Muse
The Christmas Owl by Angela Muse is ON SALE for only $0.99 to 14 November. Please read my review and enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift Card or $50 PayPal Cash, brought to you by Mother Daughter Book Promotions.
Description
A Barred owl becomes injured and must ask others for help. He promises to give back to those who have a generous heart and he is true to his word.
Excerpt
One December day a bitter wind blew steady.
And snow fell thick like Jack Frost’s confetti.
A young Barred owl had fallen from his perch.
Injured and cold for safe harbor he searched.
Book Trailer
Review

By Lynda Dickson

The Christmas Owl is a gentle story written by Angela Muse and beautifully illustrated by Helen H. Wu. It shares the great message that, if you show kindness to strangers, it will be repaid.
I found the rhyming story to be a bit forced and clunky at times, and the punctuation to be dubious. There was also an error in vocabulary that I won’t point out because most people probably wouldn’t notice. I do, however, find this a bit disturbing in a children’s book of only 500 words or so.
This book would make a lovely Christmas gift for a special child in your life. It encourages the gift of giving, being generous, and being grateful, all of which are great sentiments for this time of the year.
About the Author
Angela Muse was born in California to a military family. This meant that she got used to being the “new kid” in school every couple of years. It was hard trying to make new friends, but Angela discovered she had a knack for writing. In high school Angela began writing poetry and song lyrics. Expressing herself through writing seemed very natural. After becoming a Mom in 2003, Angela continued her storytelling to her own children. In 2009 she wrote and published her first children’s book aimed at toddlers. Since then she has released several more children’s picture books and released her first young adult romance in 2012.
Angela’s husband, Ben Muse, writes suspense/thriller books that can also be found on Amazon.
Giveaway
Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift Card or $50 PayPal Cash.
Links