Posts tagged with: Caren Crane

Cross Springs In Bloom WINNER!

1BanditBootyThanks to everyone for coming by to check out my launch party for my novella CROSS SPRINGS IN BLOOM. Don’t forget to go to Red Door Reads and enter the Who’s Ben Skrewd? contest. Such fun!

The winner of an ebook copy of CROSS SPRINGS IN BLOOM is…


Marcy, contact me at carencrane AT gmail DOT com and let me know what ebook format you prefer. Thanks for playing, everyone!

“Who’s Ben Skrewd?”

A provocative question, wouldn’t you agree? Well, last summer a number of us Red Door Reads authors decided that we all knew “who’s Ben Skrewd,” though the encounter is different for each person. Which gave us the idea of creating a character named Ben Skrewd who could appear in a group of novellas linked by Ben and our iconic Red Door. Launching the novellas on Tax Day (April 15th in the U.S.) was an irony we couldn’t resist!

Cross Springs In Bloom BNMost of us were able to squeeze Ben into a novella in an ongoing series. My novella, Cross Springs In Bloom, takes place in the familiar environs of Cross Springs, NC. Cross Springs is the setting for my debut novel, Kick Start, as well as my next two novels. Baby Steps should be out in May 2014 and the long-awaited Tiara Wars will be out in July. In Cross Springs In Bloom, we spend time with Connie Burns and Katie Warren from Kick Start, but the heroine is Mindy MacPherson, the gossipy receptionist at Cross Springs Dermatology. When she helps Connie and Mindy track down the source of some prize-winning roses, Mindy comes face-to-face with a lover she let go and hoped never to see again.

touch of troubleSusan Sey’s novella, Touch of Trouble, we once again encounter her rowdy, sexy Blake Brothers. This time we are given some insight about the hard road the youngest Blake brother, Drew, and the brainy Meg will have to travel to find true love. It starts right where the second Blake Brothers novel, Talent for Trouble, left off. The two of them tackle a particularly sticky situation involving Meg’s family. Exceptional fun!

liberty and the pursuit of happinessDeb Marlowe’s novella, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, is the next entry in her Half Moon House series. If you love feisty Regency heroines, hedge mazes, epistolary pleas and intrigue, Lierty and the Pursuit of Happiness - heck, the whole Half Moon House series! – is for you. The heroine is an American spitfire who longs to make a real difference in the world and volunteers to help at Hestia Wright’s Half Moon House. In helping a young friend extricate herself from a potentially awkward situation, she becomes entangled with Viscount Brodham, who is trying to save his young nephew…from Liberty’s friend!

_RDR_webEleven of us have brand new novellas available (for a short time) at only 99 cents! Authors in the special collection are Caren Crane, Susan Sey, Deb Marlowe, Claudia Dain, Linda Winstead Jones, Ava Stone, Lori Handeland, Jane Charles, Andris Bear, Tammy Falkner and Susan Gee Heino. The special price won’t last forever, though, so be sure to visit to get the scoop on all the novellas and snap them up while the deal is hawt!

#6Since Ben Skrewd is an integral character in each of the novellas, we have an ongoing “Find Ben Skrewd” contest set up at our website. Each of the 11 Red Door Reads authors with a Ben Skrewd novella has “hidden” Ben on her website. When you find Ben, just go to the Red Door Reads site, click the link, and tell us whose site and which page you found him on. A winner will be drawn when the contest closes on April 22nd and the winner will receive an iPad mini!

Meanwhile, enjoy all the novellas and the “Easter egg” of finding Ben Skrewd in each of them.

Speaking of Ben and Easter eggs, have you “Ben Skrewd” by the Easter Bunny? He used to faithfully visit me every year and now I get bupkes in my basket! What is your favorite Easter treat? Tell me all about it, little friends, and I’ll enter you in a drawing for a free copy of my new novella! I’ll admit my favorite is a dark chocolate-covered Russell Stover marshmallow egg. I’ve already had a few this year. Yummm…

Loving La Boheme

tragic masksThose who visit with us often have heard me wax rhapsodic about melancholia. No matter the medium, I love a story with a bittersweet ending. Tragedies have been breaking our hearts since those ancient Greeks playwrights Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus first trotted actors out on stage. As a teenager, I adored Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies, but his tragedies appealed to my melancholic young heart.

wabbit11As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate a new form of heartbreak: opera. I grew up watching Bugs Bunny cartoons that featured Bugs and Elmer Fudd singing arias from famous operas. I thought opera must be awesome! Then I attended the opera as a teenager, but can’t say I truly appreciated it. In the past 25 years, though, my love of opera has grown and deepened. Some of you may have seen my excited Tweets yesterday about the live broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera, which is carried on our local classical music station. (Actually, you can stream the live broadcasts from anywhere at—1 PM Eastern Time on Saturdays!) Yesterday’s performance was special for me, because it was one of my very favorites. Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme.

la-boheme-poster-bigI’m not alone in loving La Boheme, by any means. It is usually among the most popular operas for any repertory company and for very good reason. It has humor, passion, pathos and drama and at its heart is a big old mushy romance. It takes place in a cold, snowy winter in 1830s Paris where, in the Latin quarter, there live four young, starving-artist roommates: Rodolfo (a writer), Marcello (an artist), Colline (a philosopher) and Schaunard (a musician). One (very cold) night Schaunard comes home with some money from a gig and the boys decide to go out to the Cafe, except for Rodolfo. He stays home to get some writing done (which I respect since we ALL suffer with deadlines!). Then along comes his pretty neighbor, Mimi, whose candle has blown out. He relights her candle, but then she somehow loses her key. While they look for the key, both their candles blow out. Naturally, their hands touch and—boom!—they’re in love. It’s all happy times and frolicking.

Mimis death scene La BohemeIt’s young love, so Rodolfo and Mimi shack up and so do Marcello and his on-again, off-again flame, Musetta. But this is a tragedy, so OF COURSE Mimi has tuberculosis. Since they’re terribly poor and there is no penicillin yet, this makes things tough for the young lovers. They decide to break up (she thinks he’s too jealous, he thinks she’s too moody, plus she’s really sick), but then they recall why they fell in love and decide to stay together until spring. When spring comes, both Mimi and Musetta have taken off and left Rodolfo and Marcello to move back in with the boys. One day Musetta bursts in to tell them Mimi is outside but too weak to make it upstairs. They carry her to the garret, then Musetta gives them her earrings, which leads them to gather up their few valuables to sell so they can get medicine for Mimi. OF COURSE, Mimi is coughing her head off the whole time and, eventually, dies. But she does it in a very ladylike way, seeming to drift off to sleep, so that they only realize gradually—one at a time—she has died. Rodolfo is the last to know.

moonstruck opera sceneIt’s heartbreaking! And fabulous. Puccini’s music is gorgeous, passionate and very accessible. For those who love the movie Moonstruck, you will recognize many of the musical themes in the opera, since the movie borrowed from it heavily. It is an incredibly moving show. If you’ve never experienced it, it’s worth a listen or a watch. (Here’s a link to a seminal performance of the entire opera featuring Ileana Cotruba as Mimi and Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo: Even if you don’t enjoy opera, this is one of the most accessible operas I’ve heard. I love comic operas, too, but this one touches my romantic heart. For those who tink opera is bunk, here’s Bugs Bunny and Elmer doing Wagner:  What’s better than that?

rabbit of seville 1-thumb-341x256What’s your take on opera? If you’re a fan, what’s your favorite? If you’ve never given it a try, would you prefer a tragedy (opera seria) or a comedy (opera buffa)? And best of all, what’s your favorite Bugs Bunny opera moment?

A Beach State of Mind

Helloooo Banditas and Buddies! I write to you (posting in a vey tardy manner) from the kitchen of a lovely beach house on Topsail Island, NC. The kitchen and deck overlook a wide expanse of pale sand, littered with shells, seaweed, driftwood and other beachy detritus. I am here for a writing retreat and have been getting a ton of writing and writing business done. I haven’t changed my latitude much, but the beach has worked wonders on my attitude. I like to call this a Beach State of Mind.

The only problem I with this state of mind is that it kind of puts me a little too much “in the moment.” Like, making it nearly impossible to think about getting a blog post done. so while I enjoy this Zen-like existense while here on vacation, it’s hard on the rest of my life. Here is a list of things I am not taking care of while I’m at the beach:

1. Kimba - Some of you have seen a number of Facebook posts and comments here about my baby cat, Kimba. He is now a startling 6 months old and had to go to the vet on Wednesday for his neuter surgery. I was there for his first post-op niiters. ght, but my youngest (home from college for spring break), has handled the rest. I did talk to her once to see how he was doing, but I figure they will be fine without me. :/

2.  My Weight - I gained, according to my scales, about 4 pounds this winter. I have been doing a fair job of eating less and exercising at least a bit more for weeks now. Until last Thursday. since we’ve been here, I’ve had many forbidden things like French fries, a spicy Cajun chicken biscuits, a huge cupcake and a baked potato. They may have to roll me down the stairs to get out of this beach house! I figure I’ll start over when I get home, yet again. *sigh*

3. My Finances – I am the gatekeeper for all financial matters in my home, so I made sure all was in order before I left. Since then, I haven’t looked at an online credit or checking account balance, paid a bill or even thought of doing either. I figure I can get all that sorted when I get back to the sandless Piedmont.

4. My To Do List – I rely on my To Do list to a probably unhealthy degree. My paper calendar, too. Since I’ve been here, though, I have done neither. I figure all those “undone” things can be done later. When I’m back home. When I have to go back to my Day Job and be responsible for things.

Meanwhile, I’ll be here at the beach. watching the tide go in and out, writing far more than I do at home while I eat Forbidden Food and enjoy the company of fellow writers. I’m pretty sure the world will be fine until I return.

What is your favorite thing to NOT do while on vacation? Is there something you would love to leave behind while you get away from it all? If you can’t get away on vacation, how do you put yourself in a Beach State of Mind?

Starting With a Roar!

Roaring LionAs announced in yesterday’s Coming Attractions post and in our fabulous newsletter, there is a lot happening around the Lair in March. Historically, we have said, “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.” I never cared much about the lamb bit, but I have always been fascinated by the image of March coming in like a lion.

This reference to leonine qualities likely refers to the raw, cold winds and lingering last weeks of winter (at least in the Northern Hemisphere!) that characterize March. I remember as a young girl, probably 8 or 9, being desperate for spring to begin already. I knew spring started in March, but didn’t realize that the advent of spring didn’t immediately mean it would be warm outside. Because that is what I wanted: weather warm enough that I could go outside barefoot. My mother would finally give up near the end of the month and give me permission to go outside barefoot for as long as I could stand it. Which wasn’t usually very long. Still, I kept trying!

bare toes in grassThese days, I have no desire to go anywhere barefoot. Spring usually means an onslaught of seasonal allergies in North Carolina, so it’s not something I long for. Still, I find myself getting restless in March. Antsy. Maybe even a bit crabby. I also find myself roaring more than I like, but that is generally about things like unfinished taxes and financial aid forms for the universities. I don’t enjoy this general edginess March brings out in me, but I definitely relate it to the creeping longevity of the days and the barest hint of spring-to-come. (In our yard, mainly wild onions and other weeds popping up!)

yard work toolsTo counter all this roaring while I wait for the Promised Lamb, I generally fling myself into flurries of activity with little forethought and minimal planning. Things like raking out the landscaped areas, cleaning my flower beds, mucking out the dining room (which we use as a storage facility, apparently) and, in general, filling up more garbage bags than our weekly pickup can handle. It does help burn energy and provides me with a fleeting sense of accomplishment, but it doesn’t help me with butt-in-chair time or actually writing anything.

butt in chair logoA dilemma, since I seriously MUST finish both a novella and a novel. Both are about 2/3 finished and I have spent far too long thinking about them. This year I am trying to harness my leonine qualities and funnel them into finishing books. Taking care of business. Remembering who I am.

So what are your grand plans for March? Are you gearing up for spring or fall? Bristling with energy or looking forward to kicking back and relaxing? Let me know how the Roar Of the Lion affects you!

Deb Marlowe’s Half Moon Winner!

BanditBootySorry, you don’t actually win half of a moon (Deb’s or anyone else’s), but the proud recipient of a copy of THE LOVE LIST, Book One of Deb’s fabulous Half Moon House series is….


To claim your prize, please contact Deb at email hidden; JavaScript is required. Congratulations!!

Deb Marlowe Takes Us Back To Half Moon House!

Half-Moon-House-ribbonFrequent visitors know that one of my dearest writing pals is the fabulous Deb Marlowe. I am so excited to have her back with us in the Lair today, even though I must away to the Dreaded Day Job! :P Deb packed a bag full of of her trademark warmth and wisdom to bring to the Lair, though, and even Sven was impressed with the cookie tray she brought. Deb never does things by halves, which is why I find it so intriguing that her wonderful new Regency-set adventurous romances are the Half Moon House series. Why not the full moon, hm? (Although I have to say, the half-moon fanlight featured both above Hestia Wright’s door and in the series logo is pretty awesome.)

Without further ado, please help me welcome back Lair favorite, Deb Marlowe!

Hi, everyone! Caren, thanks for inviting me back to talk about why I adore series so much and what I’m trying to accomplish with Half Moon House in particular. But first, some background. When I was a kid there was a group of commercials for Calgon bath products which always showed a harried woman, frazzled from all the many busy facets of her life, begging, “Calgon, take me away!”  Do you guys remember that one?

I certainly do, Deb!

The Love ListIt was amusing and memorable as a kid, but now I’m that frenzied woman in the commercial and suddenly I’m all empathy instead of amusement.  :-)  And while I do adore a dip in the hot tub as a stress reliever, sometimes it takes a little more.

For me, that often looks like a bottle of merlot and a platter of cookies. Hm.

That’s when I turn to a good series.  Nothing takes me away like a good, long, richly developed story.  One I can come back to again and again with the same, comforting feeling like coming home.

It can be any format.  TV—Downton Abbey anyone?  Sherlock?  Or movies—Star Trek franchise or Lord of the Rings?  Books too—Caren and I share a deep and abiding love for The Dragonriders of Pern, Game of Thrones and the Amelia Peabody series.  And in Romance?  I’ve enjoyed so many I can barely count them.

Deb is a woman of impeccable taste. There is a reason we are such good friends!

A friend asked me not long ago: “Are you writing a series, like everyone else?”  It was asked in a slightly derogatory tone, which made me happy to explain.  Yes, I’m writing a series!  And there a great many reasons why a writer loves to lose herself in a juicy continuation, just like a reader or a viewer.

An Unexpected EncounterWorld building.  I love the chance to really paint and develop settings, rules and locales.  Regency lovers are familiar with the rules of that society, it’s one of the big attractions—reading a new story in a familiar construct.  And setting—the house is such a fixture for Downton Abbey it’s practically one of the characters.  The world of Westeros in Game of Thrones is huge and fascinating. Getting the chance to build up my own world?  Layering and expanding it with each book?  It’s like setting a kid loose in a candy store.  :-)

Characters.  In a series I can develop main characters in rich depth, allowing the reader to grow to know them through several books.  Amelia Peabody fans: look at how the character of Sethos changed over time, yes?  I can revisit them after their main story is told, sharing a glimpse of their HEA, deepening the story of their romance.  Even secondary characters can be developed further.  Liz Carlyle’s Kemble, anyone?  They can step in and out of the series, popping up like old friends.

Theme.  Every author has a theme or perhaps several that speak to him/her and emerge from their soul through their fingers.  George R. R.  Martin is exploring many themes in A Song of Ice and Fire.  I’m paying particular attention to honor, identity, moral ambiguity and feminism.  In a series I can explore one theme from different angles or even weave several together to represent something important to me.

A Slight MiscalculationI’m playing with all of this and more in my Half Moon House series and I’m having a blast.  There’s an over-arching story of Hestia Wright, a baron’s daughter ruined by an evil man and her own young and foolish bad judgment.  Cast off by Society, she becomes a world famous courtesan, until coming back to England to open Half Moon House, a place where any woman can come for help.  Set against the backdrop of her battle with her oldest enemy is group of adventurous romances that take us from England’s highest society, to London’s lowest stews and even beyond to the Continent.

Book one: The Love List is available, as well as An Unexpected Encounter, a connected novella.  Book Two and two more novellas are coming in the next few months.  And right now I have a FREE short story available.  A Slight Miscalculation is a short, sweet taste of the goings-on at Half Moon House.

Y’all need to snap up A Slight Miscalculation while it’s available as a freebie download. Warning: you will be sucked in and want more right away!

So tell me:  Do you love to escape into a big series when real life wears you down?  Which one gives you that happy, glow-y feeling of coming home?  Share a favorite with us and I’ll offer a copy of The Love List to a randomly selected commenter!

February’s Dark Promises

snowy-dayAs we know from yesterday’s amazing Coming Attractions post, it is now officially February. I’ll admit I have some seriously conflicted views of this short, endless month. My view has changed since I was a little girl, but not to any appreciable degree. So here are my major points about February. Please feel free to pile on:

snowy-night-wallpaper1. Endless Nights – Here in North America, even at the middling latitude North Carolina enjoys, the nights in February are loooong and daaaark. And this year, especially, cooooold. I hate that it is dark when I get home from work and, once inside, I never want to leave the house. I also might be part bear, because I generally want to go to bed around 8:30 pm and stay there until long after the alarm at 5:45 am. Somehow, magically, once it’s March I notice the days have become astonishingly longer and there is much more evening than, say, the last day in February. I have no idea how that happens, but it is a thing. For real, though!

winter sunshine2. Thin Sunshine – Okay, the sun does shine in North Carolina an egregious amount of the time. Even in February. Still, it’s a thin, watery sort of sunshine that is so puny it barely penetrates the gray haze of my February Funk. Yes, it has a name. Try it on for size, you’ll like it. “Got the February Funk. This sunshine isn’t cutting it, man!” I need some real sunshine which, again, March will provide. I don’t know why, but the divide between February and March is sharp and thick and tangible. Like the Berlin Wall. I’d love to tear that mother down! Where is U2 with a protest song about Febrile February Sunshine? Bono could totally rock that.

Valentines_Day_Chocolates_from_20053. Valentine’s Day – I know, I know. We’re romance writers, so we should adore a day that celebrates love, right? Right?!? *sigh* I am terribly conflicted about Valentine’s Day. I love to show my love to my family and gift them with funny/mushy/sweet cards and tasty confections, but neither my husband nor I are really sold on it. We love each other every day and try not to take it for granted, so spending money on this holiday (in February!) seems a bit shallow and forced. We do it, but it’s not really a big thing. Also, while I Love (with a capital L) chocolates with cream centers, my husband never remembers that. And if he does, he usually can’t find them at the one drugstore he stops into at the last minute on his way home from work. Seriously, this is a thing every year. Some men would overcome this or plan for it, but not my man. He is incredibly good at so many things, but remembering to get chocolates I love to celebrate a Hallmark holiday ain’t one of them.

Augustus Caesar4. Brevity – On a happy note, February is short. Whoever mapped out the Gregorian calendar gets extra snaps for that one. Actually it was and Italian doctor, astronomer and philosopher named Luigi Lilio (I totally looked that up on Wikipedia). Really, though, that was just a revision of the old Julian calendar, which was designed by an Alexandrian astronomer named Sosigenes. So, high five, Sosigenes! Way to maintain the brevity of February, Luigi! Of course, it’s commonly held that we owe the short month to Augustus Caesar. He was jealous that Julius Caesar’s month (July) had 31 days and his (August) only had 29. So he totally pinched two days off February! Smooth move, Augustus. Totally set it up for March to come in like lion! That seems Roman-like to me. 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00036]Besides brevity, February has little to recommend itself, in my (stubbornly held) opinion. Long nights are great for reading books, though, so I am not complaining too loudly. I just finished Susan Sey’s Talent For Trouble and I cannot recommend it highly—or urgentlyenough. It is funny, heart-wrenching and incredibly satisfying. I’m just whining now, but I have been sick for about a month with the most annoying series of colds and viruses imaginable. When the latest one hit (Thursday), I felt very sorry for myself. (Plus, if you’re a Facebook friend, you may have seen the cat stuck in a tree trauma. Ack!) So yesterday, feverish and miserable, I treated myself to Susan’s book. Gobbled it up. It was delicious and delightful and made me crave both toast and pizza! (Which I totally ate.) I was so sad when it ended, because I wanted more, more, more! Y’all, Talent For Trouble was the best thing to happen to me in February in a looooong time. Do yourself a favor and gobble it up!

So, are you as conflicted about February as I am? Is it a bone-chillingly cold or insanely hot month for you? Tell me your least favorite—or most!—about this long, dark month of the soul. I will eat chocolate in your honor. :D

Enjoying a Bit of Melancholy

I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but I do enjoy a bit of melancholy from time to time. Winter seems the perfect time to have a mope and a good cry and I find myself more drawn to serious dramas and heart-tugging tales at this time of year.

Call the Midwife … 'We don't go out on bikes.'I have been indulging this weekend in a binge-watching marathon of Call the Midwife. I place the blame squarely on Bandita Anna Sugden’s shoulders. I am a sucker for BBC historical shows and Call the Midwife has all the ingredients I find irresistible.

Call_the_Midwife_titlecard1. Historical setting – While some might not find London’s East End of the late 1950s particularly “historical” it is for me. The series is set before I was born, so it qualifies, in my opinion. The world was changing so swiftly at that time that vestiges of postwar London still hang about, while all the “modern” innovations (like TV for the masses) were encroaching. It does my history-loving heart good to see adults bicycling about, men wearing jackets and hats and women wearing hats, carrying vintage handbags and pushing permabulators the size of pony carts. Plus, some of the clothes are to die for!

Evangelina and Fred2. Colorful characters  - I knew almost none of the actors playing the main characters on the show (though some are BBC go-to actors), but I was quickly drawn in by the young nurses, the nuns they live and serve with, the lively and very three-dimensional people of Poplar and their extra-colorful antics. The episodes are all about characters and their lives. These characters pull you in and force you to care (ask my husband, who was sucked in against his will!).

close up of a caucasin newborn in its mothers arm3. Emotional storylines – These are small stories about regular people. They don’t deal with glamor, fame or the pursuit of either. They are stories that resonate with me because they are each about timeless issues: family, duty, honor, pride, aging, motherhood, betrayal, mental illness, physical illness and fighting for the rights and dignity of the poor. Most of all, they are love stories. That love may be between men and women, siblings, friends, neighbors or any combination of people you can imagine. The overwhelming take away from this series is that love, while it can be painful and very messy, is always worth the risk. This is a three-hanky sort of show. Even my husband has gotten a bit misty and he does not cry. Ever. But it’s babies and he is a sucker for babies!

Call the Midwife - Ep 54. Unrequited love – Okay, I already mentioned love when talking about emotional storylines. But honestly, there is a truckload of unrequited love (and plenty of the requited kind, as well) on Call the Midwife. They cover all manner of forbidden and frowned-upon relationships with a deft hand which, seriously awes me. They totally get away with it! There are also stories of people choosing to turn their backs on love that would make them happy because of their honor, duty, promises made or a host of other reasons. Unrequited love was something I experienced early and often as a young person. I have a fondness for it and it always leaves me in tears. Oh, my aching heart!

Call The Midwife5. Humor - Along with the pain is plenty of laughter. There are characters who make me smile just thinking of them. The midwives try to keep each other in good spirits, because their work is often grim and dirty. They keep my spirits high, as well. I can count on plenty of smiles and laughs along with the damp hanky. The humor is the counterbalance that keeps the show humming along perfectly. What good is having a cry if you don’t have a little levity afterward? The midwives of St. Raymond Nonnatus will never leave you melancholy for long!

Do you ever find yourself turning to a bit of drama (or good old melodrama) for a nice, cleansing cry? What is your favorite weepy movie or book? Do you find your spirits rising and falling with the seasons? (I will admit that I do!) What is your favorite dramatic binge-watch? (The BBC Pride and Prejudice hardly counts, since most of us love it already. Pick something else!) Let us know what qualifies for three-hankydom for you!

Holiday Wish List 2013

This is the time of year I really knuckle down and start holiday shopping in earnest. Some people are proud Early Shoppers (squinting at YOU, Tawny!), but many of us wait until Thanksgiving to get serious about it.


wish-list-image1Normally I sit here, pretty content with my lot in life, and can’t think of much I really want for Christmas. But I know for sure my husband will expect a Wish List with web addresses, specifications and colors, so I try to pick a few things out. This is quite apart from the Things I Am Coveting list of last month, since my Christmas List should supposedly contain things I actually expect that I might receive. My Things I Am Coveting list was chock full o’ whimsy! Here, in no particular order, are some things that have officially caught my eye this year:


Flexi-8a1.    Flexi8 Hair Clips — These are no ordinary hair clips. These things are easy-to-use, flexible, don’t pull, and they are available in a huge range of sizes and styles. I’m not even kidding about the sizes and varieties. They can hold the skimpiest wimps of hair, dreadlocks, or anything in between. It’s kind of astonishing and awesome. My friend Liz Carlyle turned me on to these and I went to the Flexi8 website and ordered clips for me and all the long-haired females in my family!


Sony Bravia 40 inch2.    Big Old Flat Screen TV — Officially, this will be my husband’s Christmas present, but all wives know that these things are really for the both of you. On Cyber Monday, I tooled over to the New Egg website and answered their questionnaire to find the perfect TV for us. Once it suggested a couple, I went and checked prices everywhere and, lo and behold, New Egg had the lowest price! So in a few days, we — I mean, he — will be enjoying some large, flat screened, HD viewing.


Acer Iconia A2003.    Tablet Computer — Y’all know me well enough to know that I am not an early adapter of any technology (see flat screen item above). So it’s no surprise I don’t have a tablet of any sort. However, I also don’t have a smart phone (mostly because I don’t want to pay for an expensive data plan) and I’ve found that many times it would be more than handy to have something I could use to look up addresses, directions, phone numbers, etc. My husband has a smart phone, but it is useless in his hands so we might as well not have one. About a year ago, Donna let me use her iPad when we were at a conference so I could post comments to the blog. I was hooked! Ever since, I have envied the tablets of others. I found another handy questionnaire that helped me pick out what I do and do not need in a tablet and narrowed it down to one. After explaining to my husband why that was the best one for me, he agreed to get that for me for Christmas. I am looking forward to having my tablet (and case with built-in keyboard, also on the List!) so I can actually write AND answer e-mail AND look up information when I’m away from home! I anticipate it will change my life and definitely for the better.  :lol:


SmartWool sock4.    SmartWool Socks —I am no stranger to SmartWool socks. I have quite a few pair in my sock drawer. However, I have one particular pair that are my favorites and they are developing thin spots at the balls of my feet. I really need some more, but they have to be exactly the right ones. Just the right amount of cushion, the right color, the right pattern (or lack thereof). I anticipate I’ll have to order these for myself, wrap them and put them under the tree. But by gum, I will find those socks. REI, here I come!


black watch band5.    Leather Watch Band  — I have no idea how old the black leather watch band I have now is, but I think it’s the third one I’ve had on this particular watch. My wristwatch has a HUGE analog face and keeps pretty accurate time. It’s also an Indiglo, so I can see it at night or at the movies without bothering EVERYONE (people who check the time on their phones, I’m looking at you!). It has probably been at least 4 or 5 years since I bought the one I have now. It is battered, tattered and about to give up the old leather ghost. I need a new one. I will also have to buy myself this one, I’m afraid, since I’ll likely have to take it to a jewelry store somewhere to find another band. It’s a necessity, but left to my own devices, I’ll never get one until I have to, so I might as well throw it on the list. I may even spring for a new battery!


Irish Walking CapeAs noted, I am a creature of simple needs. I am so excited about the tablet and the TV I can hardly stand it. I’ve already worn one of the Flexi8 clips I got for myself to work, where it was much admired. Even thinking about soft, new SmartWool socks makes me smile in anticipation. It will also be a great relief to get the new watch band, so I’m not waiting for it to break every time I put it on. I suppose other people dream of different things, but I only know what makes my toes curl. Please note, the red cashmere Irish walking cape from the Things I Am Coveting post did not make the final cut. Still too expensive!  :-(


Now that the holidays are upon us, what has made the Final Cut and landed on your list? What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever asked for and received? What was the most unexpected and welcome? (And yes, Suzanne, puppies count!)

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