No Stockings Were Hung

That's all of us two years ago in front of our stockinged fireplace.
Last year Christmas came only 3 months after Chase's death. We didn't put up a tree or stockings or any kind of decorations. We didn't even stay home, but left Dodge and had a different kind of Christmas in Galveston at the Marriott. 

This year at the insistence of my youngest, we put up a tree, put out our nativity, and a few sparse decorations. I went to hang the stockings, but froze. 

I know some people hang stockings for those who have passed away, but I couldn't. I couldn't bear seeing that hanging Christmas morning unfilled and hanging loose next to the others, nor could I not place Chase's there while I hung the rest. 

So I left the stockings in the box, closed it up, and put them all back in the garage.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

This is, in fact, our living room.

Fun at Six Flags

T on the carousel. Had to make sure he got one that went up and down. 
My boys, K, T, S and K again
Me and my Mom in a spinning Bull (This is Texas)
Pat and I

Welcome author PJ Sharon

Thanks for having me, Clover. Today’s post kicks off my blog tour for December. I’m very excited about the line-up of wonderful guest stops I’ve got coming up. Your readers can check the calendar page of my website for details. Also, I’d like to remind folks that my first contemporary YA romance, Heaven Is For Heroes, is on sale for .99 from now until the end of December. It makes a great Christmas gift for anyone who has a Kindle or Nook on their wish list. Click on the links to buy this sweet contemporary military romance for you or your teen’s cyber bookshelf.
 As a bonus, I’d like to offer your readers a chance to win an advanced reader’s copy of ON THIN ICE. Just leave a comment or question for Penny below, and I’ll ask her to pick a lucky winner based on how interesting the question or comment is. Good luck! Contest ends midnight on Friday, December 2nd.
One of the fun parts of creating my characters is getting to know them by doing a character interview. I thought I would share a little bit about Penny Trudeau, my main character from my upcoming release, ON THIN ICE, due out December 15th.
Meet Penny

How would your friends describe you?
Hopefully, they would say I’m loyal and that I’m kind of fun to hang out with…when my life isn’t all drama and tragedy, that is. (Shrugs and looks down, face looking strained).

Your teen life has been pretty traumatic. How do you deal with all the challenges?
(Sighs). I don’t think I’m that different from anyone else. I just take things as they come and do the best I can. I mean everybody has problems, right? People make choices that can make life harder sometimes, that’s all. (Face softens and takes on a grin). Like my guidance counselor, Mr. Barstow says, “Everybody makes mistakes. Most people just spread them out a little more.” (Smile disappears, face grows serious again). I guess it helps to have family and friends that care. I’ve realized that no matter what happens, I’m not alone. It took me a while to get that.

You’ve been figure skating since you were ten years old. What do you love about skating and what do you hate?
Wow, that’s a hard question. (Furrows brow and chews cuticle. Then a small smile appears and eyes brighten). I think I love the freedom I feel when I’m skating fast and the wind is in my face. It kind of takes my breath away and makes me feel like I’m flying…like I can do anything. Being good at something gives me a feeling of accomplishment. It’s a lot of hard work, but when I center a spin or land a jump I’ve tried a million times, it all seems worth it. (Smile dims, voice grows soft). As far as what I hate, it’s hands down got to be competing. There is always someone who is better, faster, and stronger. I don’t like the idea of being judged or compared to other people and told I’m better or worse than anyone else. It never makes me feel good to win because I know that someone else has to lose. It doesn’t mean they deserve it less than I do or that they haven’t worked just as hard. It just doesn’t feel right to me.

So Penny, tell us about Carter. You two seem meant for each other.
(Blushes furiously and lets bangs fall over eyes). I like to think so. He’s pretty special.

What is it that makes him special?
Carter is ridiculously honest. Trust and honesty are really important to him on account of his dad ditching him and his mom when he was a kid. Carter wants to see the best in people. If he trusts you, he’ll be a totally loyal friend. But if you betray him, well…let me tell you from experience, he can make some dumb choices if he feels betrayed. But in time, he can be very forgiving…at least he is after he’s had a chance to cool down. (Twists mouth into a smile and cheeks turn pink). I think the best thing about Carter is that when he really cares about someone, he will do anything for them. He’s a really good person to have in your corner, you know?

He sounds like a good guy. Tell us something about yourself that you’ve never told anyone before.
A. You’re kidding, right? Like I’m going to spill my guts to the world. Not that there aren’t a lot of secrets in my life, but why would I tell you guys if I won’t even tell my friends? (Folds arms and looks at me hard. Can’t seem to hold back a smirk…) Okay, so I’ll let you in on a few secrets about what I’ve learned.
Red Bull and chocolate are not basic food groups, school is never as hard as I make it out to be if I set my mind to it, and people lie for one of two reasons—either to gain approval, or avoid disapproval. I’ve lied for both reasons, and neither is worth it.

Excellent advice, Penny. Thanks for hanging out with us. Okay, readers. Feel free to ask Penny any questions you might have about her story or her life. Or leave a comment and be entered to win an advanced copy of ON THIN ICE. Read an excerpt here.

ON THIN ICE is about a 17 yo figure skater dealing with her mother’s cancer while trying to live up to the expectations of her family. Penny has to face issues like anorexia, a teenage pregnancy, and family secrets that threaten to change her life forever. The story is a complex, richly woven tale that deals with the consequences of hiding the truth of who we are, and making sacrifices for the ones we love.

About PJ
PJ Sharon is author of contemporary young adult novels, including HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, a finalist in the Denver Heart of Romance Molly contest. Her stories have garnered several contest finals, including two awards for ON THIN ICE, and a place in the prestigious Valley Forge Romance writer’s contest for SAVAGE CINDERELLA coming out in the spring of 2012.

On the road to publication, PJ decided that indie-publishing was the best fit for her books. Although the themes are mature, evoking plenty of drama and teen angst, PJ writes with a positive outlook and promises a hopefully ever after end to all of her books. She believes in strong heroines empowered by learning valuable life lessons. Because of this, readers of all ages will be captivated by the emotional and romantic journeys of her characters.

Writing romantic fiction for the past six years, and following her destiny to write Extraordinary stories of an average teenage life, PJ has been a member of Romance Writers of America since 2007 and is an active member of the Young Adult chapter of RWA. She is mother to two grown sons and lives with her husband and her dog in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA.

Book Trailer for Heaven is for Heroes:
On her Website:
Follow PJ on Twitter: @pjsharon
Follow PJ on Facebook: PJ Sharon Author Fan Page
Follow PJ’s Tuesday blog on

Thanks so much PJ for stopping by!

Heaven is for Heroes

The summer before Jordan's senior year, her brother is killed in action and his best friend, Alex--the boy Jordan has crushed on since she was six--comes back from Iraq, wounded and unable to remember the details of what got his friend killed.

Heaven is for Heroes is not a fluffy coming-of-age tale. It deals with grief, guilt, self-harm and forgiveness in a realistic, yet gentle manner.

Jordan and Alex are great characters who I found myself rooting for. They are both instilled with a can-do/must-do attitude under tough circumstances as they deal with what they've lost and learn to appreciate what they've gained.

Join me tomorrow as the author PJ Sharon stops by.


Smart and athletic seventeen year-old Jordie Dunn has a bright future planned, but when tragedy turns her life upside down, she begins to question not only her future, but the facts surrounding her brother’s death in Iraq. The military’s account that his best friend and fellow Marine, Alex Cooper, is at fault, is a notion she refuses to believe. Alex was the careful one--the shy, protective, computer geek she’s had a crush on since the ninth grade, and she knows better than anyone that her troubled brother had a dark and reckless side—a secret she’s kept for far too long.
With no memory of the incident that killed his best friend, nineteen year-old Alex Cooper returns home, shattered and facing a difficult recovery. Determined to go it alone, he pushes Jordie away. No longer the freckle-faced tom-boy who followed him and Levi around as a kid, she has become a beautiful and stubborn young woman who believes in him far more than he deserves.

            While Jordie’s unique approach to rehab pushes Alex to extremes, the two discover that their childhood friendship has grown into more. The attraction has Jordie’s head spinning and her heart soaring, but Alex struggles to deal with his guilt, his loss, and the nightmares that continue to haunt him. Even though Jordie is determined to help him heal, and even more determined to find the truth, what she doesn’t expect, is to find love.

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm have many things to be thankful for. My family, my husband and children. They mean everything to me. We're all in relative good health so I'm grateful for that. For my husband's employment and my own little job. For the ability to follow my dreams even when it's hard and doesn't seem worth it.

I'm grateful for my friends--I have some good ones, old and new. For getting to hang out with people who have nothing in common with me and also to hang with people who enjoy the same interests.

I'm grateful for my parents and my siblings and some wonderful kind in-laws. I'm grateful for my beliefs. I'm grateful to have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my belly, and medication to help my body from completely falling apart. I'm grateful to live in America, though I know I take what we have here for granted most of the time.

Yeah, I have a lot to be grateful for. Have a wonderful Holiday everyone.

Droopy Boob Effect

Does your cover suffer from the droopy boob effect? Why yes, it does. 

I adore this cover. The ghost has just the right expression and creepy level for the ghost in my newest book. 
However ...
No, that is not a droopy boob, it's actually a ruffle on her dress. See the pretty lace? But when viewed in thumbnail size ~~ droopy boob alert. Sigh.

Fortunately, I'm on good terms with my cover designer and instantly the db issue is whisked away. 

Writers Retreat

The North Texas Chapter of Romance Writers of America has an annual writers retreat every November. For the past two years since I've been a member I haven't been able to go for various reasons, so I was real excited to be able to attend, hoping to get lots of writing done.

So how'd I do? Uh, let's skip over that part for a minute.

Around 10 of us converged upon the Jefferson Street  Bed and Breakfast Inn in remote Irving, Texas. I'm joking. Irving is smack dab between Fort Worth and Dallas (which reminds me of a joke: If Fort Worth is where the West began, that makes Dallas where the East petered out.) approximately about a pig and poke from the old Dallas Cowboy Stadium before it was torn down. Not remote. But it was in the Historic Downtown Irving District and was real quiet and pleasant. There is even a horse painted on the side to inspire a remote atmosphere.
Great times were had by all. We enjoyed two workshops. One with a former secret service dude who waltzed in all innocent looking with several hidden weapons on his body and yes, we all now know how to make a homemade silencer with a baby's pacifier and which guns will go off if accidentally dropped and which won't.

We also enjoyed cringed as Nikki got thrown around the cottage by the multiple Martial Arts instructor and listened to our mild-mannered chapter president exclaim "damn!" each time a body smacked the floor. 

(Excuse the blurriness. They were in motion. Also I kinda can't take a good picture. Hubby keeps sending me how to take good picture links, but, well, here ya go.)    
Just hangin out and plotting. That's Marsha, Nikki, and Chrissy's back.  Marsha wrote approximately 7000 new words.
Chrissy and Michelle aka Lavender.
Jen got a new premise worked out for her T/T WIP.   Most frequent question overheard: Does your story have a secret baby?
Gina reworked three scenes.

This is what the Hill Country Suite looks like without 10 writers hangin out in it and also in focus.
Everyone together, even the two dark heads who wished to remain unphotographed. Vampires or something. Oh, and me, I'm behind the lens. Raquel (blonde in the back) wrote a truckload of words, but she's prolific any day of the week anyway so I don't know her final count. The Dark head writing team who shall remain unphotographed plotted the weekend away.
Wow, looks like a grumpy group. It's morning and I just hadn't warned them to smile yet.

The bathrooms rocked. Three words: Heated tile floors.

And me? The group as a whole helped me figure out my villian's motivation. It only took the entire Saturday, but after that I was able to write a pivotal scene that pretty much the entire WIP hinges on. Only about 800 words total, but some very vital-better-get-it-right 800 words so I'm happy.

YA Halloween Trick-or-Treat Party

How do I play:
Visit each participating author's virtual "home" between October 24th-31st. Search her site for this Halloween Trick-or-Treat icon:

(Search carefully! It may be well hidden!)

What are the treats?
Each participating author will be giving out different treats on her website! Some examples are free reads, stickers, bookmarks, trading cards, and more! Go look through my other pages to find the above icon and see what you win from me! (Hint: I'm not a very good hider)

Can adults play too?
Yes! The party is for everyone who enjoys reading young adult books!

Find other participating authors here 

September 25

Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen ~ I miss you

September, September

September 1st came and went. One friend sent flowers. My mom called a few days ahead, my sister a few days afterward, but both know me well enough to not call on that day. My daughter facebook chat asked.

My husband and sons didn't speak of it, I guess taking their clues from me. I just wanted to crawl in a hole and cry or ignore that this day even exists.

The rest of the month hasn't gotten any better--like a large inhalation, waiting to release.

Our son died a year ago on September 1st. He'd turn 16 September 25th, excited to get his driver's license that he'd never have. All his tomorrows gone~~

All I know is that time doesn't heal. It really doesn't. It just seems to get worse. Maybe we just had to get over this month. I don't know. For me, September will always be hard. 

Banshee's Cry Sample

"I don't know, Jake." Cal stepped over the broken glass. Every window in the run-down house had been shattered. "Something's off. It just doesn't seem like a demon."

Jake wrinkled his nose at the pungent smell of decay overtaking the dusty parlor. Moonlight stole inside, illuminating white sheets thrown over chairs and tables. "All the signs point to it. Even the thermal images we nicked off the satellite cameras showed a straight line of heat from a demon passing, and then there's reports of locals suddenly going insane—six to date—all bat shit crazy enough to hara-kiri themselves. Come on, sounds like a demon getting his jollies off around here to me. Six, Cal. Tell me how six people in one little town all kill themselves in the space of two weeks if a demon hasn't been hanging around influencing them?"

"Yeah, okay. You're right." Cal pumped his splitter, the specialized shotgun that housed ice bullets in its chamber, best defense against demons in any dimension.
He didn't look convinced.

"Tell you what." Jake tapped the end of his own splitter. He loved the feel of Gertrude in his hands. Similar to a short barreled shotgun, the weapons master to the Anointed, Paps, designed the splitters with a smoother palm action trigger rather than a finger pull, and Gert had one of the cleanest pulls of any splitter Jake had used. "I'll keep my dagger unsheathed in case it's something besides a demon. Which it isn't."

"Guess we'll know soon enough," Cal replied. "Up or down?"

"I'll take the cellar. You search upstairs, then meet back here and we'll sweep the main floor together." Jake glanced at Cal's back as the young tracker headed toward the stairway. "Call out if you find anything."

Without looking back, Cal flicked out an exaggerated salute. Jake grinned. Bossing the kid around never got old.

He tried several doors off the kitchen before he found the cellar. Why a demon would want to hang out here was beyond him, but they'd pieced together that at least four of the suicide victims had come here sometime during the month—one as a realtor, two as potential buyers, and another stopped by to give an estimate for refurbishing. So far visiting this house was the only thing any of the vics had in common.

Slipping out his penlight, Jake flicked it on. The little beam barely penetrated the darkness down into the slender stairwell. His first step down squeaked across the old wood and footsteps rustled below. Yep, something was definitely down there.
Jake pumped Gerty and descended the stairs that squeaked and squealed beneath each step, which didn't matter since the demon or whatever was in the cellar already heard him. His light bounced around spiderwebs and shelves that held dust-coated jars of preserves or something before shooting across a face.

Jolting, Jake dragged the light back to the figure and the identical business end of the splitter pointed at him.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he growled out.

"Tracking a demon. What else?" Kiene tipped her head, making her long ponytail fall to the side."Nasty one by the looks of it."

Of course she'd be tracking a demon. Her kind, the narrow-visioned Anointed, had long given up tracking anything besides demons, leaving humankind unprotected against all the other supernatural monsters and beasts that went bump in the night.
"Well, leave. We got here first."

"I don't think so."

Jake lowered his gun. "You don't think you're gonna leave or don't think we got here ahead of you?"

"Neither." The girl's shotgun lowered.

A frown pulled at Jake's mouth. She looked good. Long legs snug in black pants. Tight blue T-shirt beneath a short-cropped leather jacket. She could give catwoman a run for the money any day. "Who let you out of Karavel anyway?"

Blue eyes narrowed. "How else am I supposed to gain any experience? I'm tracking demons. Same as you."

"On your own?"

No, I brought my baby sitter along. Geez."

Jake did not like her tracking alone. Not one little bit. Sure he knew she'd graduate from the Academy one day and join the ranks of demon trackers, but…hell, he just didn't like it. That's all.

"You're not ready. You need to go home."

"Says who? You?" One hip cocked out almost in defiance and Jake couldn't help staring at the curve of it.

"Someone has to say it."

"Pluuh…eease. You and Cal track on your own and you're not even—" Her features wilted. At least she had the decency to look mortified at what she'd almost blurted.

Of course Jake being Jake, he didn't let it go. "Not what, Kiene? Full-blooded?" Coming from her, it felt like a punch to the stomach. "I didn't expect that from you."

"You know I don't care about that." Her tone was quiet.

"What then? If I can track without superhuman abilities, it must be a piece of cake? It isn't. It's still hard, it's still dangerous, even for you over hopped up Anointeds."

"Stop it. You know that's not what I meant." Her temper was back, which was fine with him. Much more comfortable to deal with anyway. She headed toward a darker part of the cellar. "You can be such a jerk, you know that?"

Whatever." Jake followed after her. "Cal and I are tracking this demon so you need to back off."

"I am not backing off."

"Yes. You are."

"Look." Kiene spun around. "I put a lot of effort into tracking all the signs. It's my first solo and I'm not returning without even trying."

"Meaning you don't want to be humiliated in front of your friends."

"Fine. Yes. Whatever." She tossed her head back. "Call me shallow. Call me a suck-up. I don't care, but I am tracking this demon."

Jake swung the shotgun up to rest over his shoulder. The last thing he wanted to do was cause Kiene any embarrassment among the other Anointeds, though he wasn't sure why he even cared about that. "Fine, you can stay. But, sweetheart, we're doing this together." Where he could keep an eye on her. "I'm in charge. You do everything I say." Oh her eyes flared wide at that. Maybe this could be fun after all. "Deal?"

She glared at him. He could practically see the cogs of her mind weighing options. Finally her gaze met his. "Deal."

Nook Kindle All other apps


Reviews are starting to trickle in for The Anointed, book one of The Demon Trackers. This is a great one and makes me smile ear to ear:

An Action Packed Ride--Not to be missed!

Demon Trackers: The Annointed by CC James is an action packed read. You barely have time to catch your breath from one traumatic event before you're hit with the next heart stopping situation. An incredibly fine roller coaster ride from page one to the end.
While the book is aimed at the YA audience, this "very grown up" person found it a super read. Girls are going to go crazy over Cal and Jake, and older females will develop a "thing" for Henry, their father. Young men will see themselves in Cal and Jake, fighting the demons.
The relationship between the brothers is well drawn, and any parent can empathize with the angst Henry experiences when his children's lives are in peril.
CC James has developed a world "peopled" with dreadful, ugly, scary beings. You won't be able to put this one down, and this reviewer can't wait for the next book in the series, Banshee's Cry.

Resources for Twitter

Hoot Suite ~
Have more than one twitter account? This tool lets you manage several accounts from the same place. It also compresses links, schedules your tweets, and tracks your stats. 

Tweetdeck ~
Twitter organizer. Use the Tweetdeck Dashboard to manage your followers, put them in group, see your conversations, and watch your favorite conversations through your specified search queries. ~ 
Compresses links and tracks click through stats.

Tiny url ~ 
Similar to

Tweet Stats ~
Get the stats. See who you and also your followers' tweet and reply to most and at what time.Trending stats.

TwitPic ~
Like to use photos with your twitter? Use your Twitter user name and password to log in and upload photos directly to your feed or with a link.

In Honor of the Final Harry Potter Movie

This vid has been around for a while, but we love it. My kids take parts and try to recreate it to annoyance ~ but it's not often they play nicely together in a way that results into giggle fits so, watch, enjoy, sing-along!

Harry Potter ~ action hero

Fun vid of the week

The Sweetheart Tree excerpt

One life turned the battle ...

The Sweetheart Tree excerpt

"Oh, sugar," a solider-reenactor-a tall, slender one cooed at her."Did you think ye'd be safer dressin like a lad? Is that why you cut your hair?"
     "Did a poor job of it, if you ask me,"another said. "There's no mistakin she's a woman. You need something much baggier, miss, if you don't mind me pointing out" All eyes seemed to be taking in her jeans and T-shirt, which gleamed in the darkness.
     The young lieutenant frowned down at her. "Ma'am, I can't let a woman wander around out here alone. It's not safe. Sheridan's army is burning everything. Don't you know what could happen to you?
     "Gee, let me think. You mean like being dragged into the bushes by several filthy men? Something like that?"
Travel in Time to the Civil War   nook     kindle    other devices

Gabbing it up At Manga Maniac Cafe

I'm over at Manga Maniac Cafe today giving out 3 ebooks of Demon Trackers! Come on over!

It's a Twitter thing

Next Weds July 13th the Wild Rose Press authors are taking it to the Twitterverse.
A full fun day of tweeting our blurbs, favorite lines and whatever.

So fellow Roses, here's how it works:

1st, post your blurb or longer favorite lines or whatever to your blog or website.

2nd, decide what line you want to tweet. Can't be longer than 140 characters, but I'd go even shorter like 120 in case someone wants to add something like: gr8 cover! or luv this one!

3rd, make sure you add the #TWRP hashtag within the message so we can all find each other and readers will also see it and hopefully join in and look for others.

(Other hashtags you can use are #favlines #blurbs #makeupyourown or use your specific genre hashtags. I might use #fantasy #romance #ya #youngadult or #paranormal

Here's an example of mine:
#TWRP #favlines "Cal. Don't move."
Cal glanced up and into the barrel of his older brother's shotgun. ~C the pretty boy cover

Except, wait a minute. That tweet is long and clunky once I added the url to amazon. So I need to shorten that.

Here's how to shorten long urls. Highlight the url. Control C to copy it.
Next go to or and paste (Control V) the long url into the "shorten links" box. Press "shorten" and voila, the long url link is now a short url link. Copy and paste that into your message line.

Now here's how my tweet message will look:

#TWRP #favlines. "Cal. Don't move." Cal glanced up and into the barrel of his older brother's shotgun.~ C the pretty boy cover

If you click on both the long and short links, you'll see they both take you to the same place. (And while you're there if you want to like and tag my new book I'll be thrilled--did I just do an advertisement? Yes, I believe I did.)

4rd, now you're ready to tweet. On the 13th, send your message out into the T-verse. Make sure to add your #TWRP hashtag. Then type that hashtag into your twitter searchbar or you can also hover over that hashtag on your own message or anyone else's, press enter, and it will take you to an entire list of tweeters using our #TWRP hashtag.

5th, On Weds, Retweet any of the messages that catch your eye. (Hover the mouse over the message and the reply and retweet boxes will appear) If there's room add a message of your own along with. Also if you feel like it, follow their links and comment on their blogs, or like and tag their amazon pages, or whatever. Generally, just spread the love.

It's gonna be a great day.
Leave any questions you have in the comment box and feel free to reblog this and get the word out. I'll even make an "addtoany" share button to make it easy.


Humpback Valentia

This is pretty amazing!

Texas Spiders

I'm on the phone with some cable tech, since, well, our cable was out. It was a minor fix of having to reset the battery of the router box. Just unplug the power cord, take out the battery, wait two minutes and plug everything back in.

No big deal. Except the box is in the garage behind a shelf with a bunch of Christmas decoration boxes and the electrical outlet is on the ceiling by the garage opener mechanisms.

And a freakin spider as big as my palm--no exaggeration--is on the floor between the two!

I'm moving boxes and ladders and hopping back and forth between the two with a cell phone on speaker with tech guy explaining what I'm to do while I'm explaining to him how freaked out I am by this monstrosity of a spider eyeballing me.

Battery recharged and cable guy asks me to go inside and check the reception. I politely ask him to hold on a minute and grab the closest baseball. It happens to be aluminum.

I can only imagine tech dude grinning as he hears clang after clang of aluminum striking cement while me and superspider head off. Man that thing was quick, but I had a longer reach.

Not going into the garage barefoot anymore . . .