Posts tagged with: Happy Birthday

Caren’s Birthday Book Launch Bash!

Hi, everyone. Joan usually blogs on the 13th of the month, but she let me take over the blog for today. Today is my birthday AND I am officially launching my debut published novel, Kick Start! Sven was up late preparing his traditional Swedish meatballs, vats of potato and pasta salad, delicate cucumber sandwiches on pumpernickel with fresh dill and a host of other savory options. On the sweet side we have cream puffs, triple-chocolate butter cookies and, of course, birthday cake!

sven_cropped-1Damon is behind the bar and Paolo is serving. I know Paolo’s a bit clumsy, but he’s so cute when he apologizes for spilling a mojito down one’s cleavage! Maybe this time he’ll keep all the drinks inside the glasses. We’ll have to see about that. (Damon did make sure the absinthe was locked up tight so Paolo won’t be slipping any of that into any glasses this time, either. Ahem!) Make yourselves at home, load up a plate and wrap your fingers around a frosty glass. It is time to party!


Now that everyone’s mouth is full and there’s a very tiny lull in the conversation, I’ll segue into the second part of today’s celebration. My debut book launch! I am very happy to announce that Kick Start is available in all e-book forms (links below) for your reading pleasure. Kick Start was the book that finaled in RWA’s 2006 Golden Heart contest—the one that brought us Romance Bandits together! Kick Start was not the first book I wrote. I think it was the fifth. (Believe it or not, I have forgotten some of my early books. I counted the other day and thought my total was 7, but I think it’s actually 9). I had done a lot of writing and learning about writing by the time I began Kick Start. I wrote it in 7 weeks in the summer of 2005, when I was laid off from work but still collecting severance pay. The book was fast, funny, easy and a pleasure from beginning to end.

Kick Start for Barnes and NobleFast forward to 2006, when it finaled in the Golden Heart. It had been edited quite a bit by then, but the story pretty much remained intact. It piqued interest at Harlequin, but they ultimately passed on it. By 2007, I had changed the location of my town from Georgia (where you can get a quickie divorce) to North Carolina (where you can’t, but which I knew much better). Changing the location changed the timeline of the story and lots of story elements and locations. By the time I finished revising it, I was kind of sick to death of it. I had moved on and written another book in the Cross Springs series and was working on the third.

RWA pictures 062And then Life Happened. My husband was once again laid off, I was working full-time and our darling back-to-back daughters were at that incredibly needful stage of high school. Keeping our family afloat and checking things off my To Do list were about all I could handle. For THREE YEARS. Last fall, the baby went to college. Long about September, my dear friend Deb Marlowe started poking me. She wanted to know when I was going to publish a book. You know, one of the 9 I had already written. I thought about it and learned about self-publishing…and then dawdled and dragged my feet. I kept pretending not to hear Deb’s increasingly sharp and pointed probes until she flung down the gauntlet as we celebrated her birthday at the beginning of March. It was time. Now, as we celebrate my birthday, I give Deb the credit for kick starting my publishing career. (That’s a picture of us at an RWA conference many years ago.) Here’s a blurb:

When life stalls right in the middle of the journey, sometimes all it needs is a Kick Start

Linda Dowling’s husband traded her in for a younger model, and she clung to the only life and home her kids knew. Easiest thing by far when her heart was broken and her small town was filled with folks who commonly mistook their neighbor’s concerns for their own. But even in Cross Springs, NC, time moves on and heals the most grievous of wounds. Linda shakes things up, goes back to school and—gasp!—starts to date a younger man.

Suddenly everyone in Cross Springs has something to say about her life—and Linda is faced with hard choices. She has tried for years to live up to the expectations of Cross Springs’ society, but now she is remembering the girl she used to be, back before motherhood and self-doubt robbed her of her self-esteem. Should she bow to comfortable roles and old expectations? Or should she give herself a Kick Start and pursue the kind of love she never thought she would find?

Here’s a link to the excerpt on my website. Actually, it’s the entire first chapter! Hopefully, you’ll be intrigued and entertained and want to read more. 😀 In case you do, here are some links where you can find the book in the e-format of your choice. It is also available on Amazon sites around the world. Or it should be. I haven’t quite figured out how to check all those things yet.

Treat Yo SelfAvailable for Kindle –

Available for Nook from Barnes & Noble –

Available at SmashWords –

As a special present from me to you, I would love to gift one commenter with a copy of Kick Start in the e-book format of your choice. To get in the drawing, please tell me what your ultimate birthday gift to yourself would be (if time, money and reality were not issues and you could Treat. Yo. Self! :D). I gave myself a published book, so anything goes!

It’s the Best Time of the Year….for CAKE!!!

  Hello Banditas and Bandita Buddies!  Guess what day it is???

I’m betting you guessed from the picture….It’s my birthday.  Grins.

Now, I don’t usually make a huge deal out of my birthday.  In spirit, I am now, and probably will always be, an approximately 12-year-old juvenile delinquent.  Ha!  However, this is one of those OHHHHHHH!!!!  Birthdays.  You know, a decade birthday.

I was going to make people guess which one, but that can get downright embarassing.  heehee.  Also, I don’t look my age – thank you, darling mother, for those good skin genes! – and people invariably guess my age at at least a decade younger than it is.  It helps too, that I have young children.  (I was downright OLD for motherhood, or so my OB/GYN informed me at the time…grrrr!)

My aforementioned mother was also very young-looking for her age.  She also had children at a much older age than most in her generation.  Seriously.  Now a-days, no one even blinks when you say you waited till your thirties to have kids.  Back then, when my Mama was having kids, she refused to even tell US her age, as when someone found out her age the other mothers made terrible fun of her, in a mean-girl kind of way, for being so much older than most. 

Oh, and did I mention I was the youngest of four?  And the “Oh, my we cannot be pregnant AGAIN, can we?” baby.  Hahahah!!  So my Mama was heading for fifty when she had me.   She was born in 1918.  Yes, people, I’m serious.  Not long before she passed away, at 72, someone asked her when she was going to turn fifty. 

I love that, and so did she.

However, at some point, you have to admit to people that yes, you really are THAT age.

So, this year I decided to come clean and actually admit my real age.  When people have asked in years past – frequently guessing a much lower number – I just nod and smile.  Now, you, my darlings, get to know the big secret of the century….

Well, half a century.  Today, I turn fifty.  EEEEEEEEEEEK!!!!

This news has absolutely bamfoozled many of my friends.  Again, it may be because I have the sensibilities, goofiness, and appetite of a pre-teen boy, but virtually no one has believed me when I’ve confessed the true number.  The responses have been funny, and startling, and downright hilarious.

“You’re kidding, right?  C’mon.  You’re like, 37.   You’re my age.”  (Uh, no.  You weren’t born when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.  I watched it on TV.)

“Liar, how old are you REALLY?” 

(I wanted to tell her that I was 888, but only looked 41, just to see what she said, but she was having a coronary just accepting 50.  Also, I didn’t want to start any Nicholas Cage-type rumors.  Grins.)

“But…but…but…I just went to your 40th birthday party, like, a couple of years ago!!”  (Time Warp!!  Look at your daughter, dear friend…she’s nearly 10….) heehee.

One friend, alas, has had such trouble accepting that I could have been her babysitter (I was 12 when she was born), that she’s telling everyone she knows that I’m turning 50 and she just can’t believe it. 

Now, this is kinda like saying the baby’s ugly.  I can do it – tell my age – but don’t YOU go ’round blathering it to everyone.  :>  Leave them their illusions about my relative youth or age, please.  Snork!!!

Also, for some reason, everyone has decided that this milestone deserves cake.  Lots, and lots, and lots of cake.  The chocolate cake up above was presented, with singing, at Thanksgiving.  This one on the right, was presented to me at a committee meeting today.

Oh, by the way we interrupt this GORGEOUS cake, with it’s beautiful copy of the cover of my next book, (Thank you Lyndsay Llewellyn!) for a news bulletin I’ve been meaning to tell ya’ll….

Thanks to that damn hurricane ’round about Halloween, (you know, that wee breeze named SANDY), Deadly Charms is delayed until January or February.  My editor is in New York.  Yeah.  No power for three weeks puts things in a holding pattern.  (“I’m sorry, Ghostrider, the pattern is full…”)

Back to the cake…it’s red velvet cake.  It’s about 10 inches HIGH.  That is one BIG cake.  HUGE.  The edges are deckled like a book.  I was so moved by this.  These ladies are on a committee with me.  We’d never met until September of this year.  This had to be one of the sweetest things ever.

And I’m a sucker for my name on a cake, and on a book cover.  I got ’em ALL on one cake!  WOOT!!

That said, my husband is throwing me a party tonight.  I had to discourage him from getting a giant sheet cake.  (What IS it about cake this year?)  Beloved that he is, he bowed to my wishes and got me pumpkin pie.  YES!!! 

He, thankfully did not attempt to make this a surprise.  Bless his heart, he also discovered the true irritant about a December birthday as he tried to make this a big occasion for me: December birthdays take second fiddle to holiday parties, concerts and plays. 

It may be a small group, but that’s okay, more pie for me!!  Bwahahahah!

Pie notwithstanding, I’ve done a LOT of thinking about this birthday.  What have I accomplished in my first half-century?  

I’ve gotten a LOT of things on that bucket list checked off.  Gone to France.  Walked on fire.  Rode bareback.  Won a Best in Show with one of my Dalmatians.  Found and married the love of my life.  Had two beautiful sons.  Wrote books.  Got them published.  Sang a capella in a choral group not affiliated with school.  Sang Messiah with a 300-voice chior (see Thursday’s blog!) Nearly got my black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  Drove a race car.  Shot skeet.  Saw wild dolphins.  Tried various weird foods.  Read LOTS of books including the Bible, Koran, Torah, and Tao Te Ching.  (I’m still confused.   SNORK!!!)  I’ve also accepted that I’ll never be a size 4 (my bone structure alone is bigger than a size 4!) even when I’m in the best of shape.  I’ve accepted who and what I am, and that if others don’t like it, they can lump it.  Grins. 

There’s a lot more, of course, big and small.  However, more importantly, what do I want to do in the second half-century? OH SO MUCH!!

SCOTLAND.  That trip has to be soon.  :>  Learn to speak Gaelic.  Remember French.  Get to Black Belt.  Go running again. See the rest of the 50 States  (I’ve seen 39 and counting.)  Visit Anna and Christine, Helen and Barb in Oz.  Go visit Anna S in England and KJ in Toronto.  Oh, and little things like “Hit the NY Times list”  and  “Have my book be turned into a movie”  and “ACTION FIGURES!!”  Grins.

I have gotten a start on this, by the way.

I’m back in Tae Kwon Do class and moving back up the ranks.  I’ll have that black belt before my NEXT birthday.  :> Watch out, Demetrius!!

I also run my first road race next weekend.  I’ll be stretching myself, for sure.  I’d gotten this App you see…(yes, there IS an App for that!  It’s called Couch to 5K and I recommend it!)  I got up to that “running a 5K” point.  Yeah!  My pals talked me into entering a road race.  We all thought it was a 5K.

Nope.  It’s 5 MILES.  Uphill.  Both ways.  Possibly with snow as it’s on Dec. 15.  *hyperventilating*

Okay, trying for calm here…I picked up my race packet tonight.  The Celtic Solstice Run.  My number’s 2880.  All those 8’s.  Love that.  Eight’s my lucky number.  Maybe I’ll survive this road race thing after all.  And hey, there’s a Celtic Sheep on my premium running shirt, and while it would have been more fun for it to be one of those long-horned Scottish cows I want to see in Scotland’s fields, this works for me.  More luck.  Grins.

There’s a lot more on that list of things “For the Next Bit” including the fact that I plan to be healthy and hearty up to 130, but I won’t bore you with the deets.

Of course in all this reflection and planning, there are also things I won’t ever do again:  Settle for less than my best, or less than I deserve.  Lie to myself about whether I’m happy doing what I’m doing.  Pull my own chain link fencing.  Jump out of perfectly good airplanes.  Re-insulate the attic.  Hang wallpaper myself.

I’ve been-there-done-that (except for the plane – I won’t even GO there!), and I’m old enough and wise enough to pay someone for the chores, and not delude myself about my mental state.  Grins.

So what about you, darling Banditas and Buddies? 

What’s on your Bucket List? 

What do you want do accomplish by the time you’re 50? 

Or if you’re beyond that milestone, you gorgeous thing you, what do you want to do before the next OHHHH! Birthday?

What daring thing are you going to challenge yourself to in this next wonderful year?  Finish the book?  Jump out of a perfectly good airplane (and if so, WHY, for heaven’s sake!?!)

What kind of cake do you love on YOUR birthday….or do you like PIE better?  (Yes, I know we talked about this during a pie/cake fight a year or so ago, but hey, I’m 888, I forget these things.)

 I’ve decided that I’m going to run a road race IN Scotland.  Somehow.  Before I’m 60.  Grins.  I’ll report back…

BTW, this is my new Author Photo…what do you think?  (Cassondra made me post this and ask.  Grins.)

Now…tell me about YOUR Bucket List!!

 ALSO…Be sure to come back to the Lair on December 13 when we kick off the annual 12 BANDITA DAYS OF CHRISTMAS! Prizes and recipes every day!! Roosters. Starbucks goodies. Books. Dragons. Books. Cookies. Godiva. Books!! (By Banditas and friends like Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, JD Tyler, Deb Marlowe, Addison Fox and many more!) You know you want the cookies, for sure, so come home to the Lair for the Holidays! Who knows, you might win something, and you’ll be guaranteed to have fun!!

It’s My Party…..

…and I’ll blog if I want to, blog if I want to….you would blog too if it were you!!!!

Not surprisingly, today’s post is a bit self-serving because you see….TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY!!!

Now, we’re not gonna get into a lot of nit picky details such as age but I thought I’d chat a bit about memories of party’s gone by.

Alas, I grew up in…ahem…an age when most kids did not have a birthday party every , single year. Don’t get me wrong, I love attending my little underage friends party with balloons, cake, ice cream, high pitched squealing and the occasional ice cream smeared kiss but “back in the day” (Gulp, I’m starting more and more sentences like that) you usually only had them on special birthdays. I had two.

The first was for my 6th birthday. I wore a fancy party dress and had a special birthday girl tiara made, appropriately, from foil (Yes…we HAD foil “back in the day”). I got to invite all my class buddies. We had balloons, cake and Mom got “special” Neopolitan ice cream bricks from the bakery. We have photos of all the fun we had including my harried Mom directing pin the tail on the donkey. What’s that you ask? It’s a game….a game we played “back in the day.” Oh, yes we had a time including the mean girl who snuck upstairs and went into my bedroom and kidnapped my Raggedy Ann doll!! Ahem, that’s a story for another day.

I have a photo of me in my tiara but because (grits teeth) “back in the day” our parents thought it a great idea to put the pics between acetate in an album where, the course of time, has MELTED them making them impossible to remove with out destroying the historical treasuresm I can’t share it.

My second foray into birthday celebratory antics was for my 13th when I got to have my first ever sleep over. We talked about boys way into the night, ate, listened to records and conked out on pallets. Fun all around and I had hidden my Raggedy Ann doll.

Those were the parties. There are lots of other memories. Like the year my birthday landed on Easter. Mom had carved and put together a birthday cake in the shape of a bunny. My gift came wrapped in a Leggs egg. I got to pick out my favorite dinner (roasted chicken and Mom’s dressing). Good times my whole life.

My birthday took on a different aspect after my Mom passed. No more birthday cakes I was sure. But then a bunch of friends from the hospital took me out to lunch and brought a homemade cake. I cried. That same special gift was repeated a while back when not only did Bandita Donna remember my dearth of birthday baked goods but remembered I like chocolate cake with chocolate icing and brought me one!

Sniff, sniff…

Anyway, me and the kitties will celebrate together. My brother is taking me out to the movies and hopefully adoring me. I have wonderful wishes, from wonderful friends and will try not to count the number of Motrin I have to take.

So today is my day to celebrate and I want to celebrate it with you. What are you bringing to the party???

(Candid photo of my baby cats contemplating the existence of balloons…POP!)

Happy 90th Birthday!

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

Last week my DH’s beloved Aunt Liz turned 90!

I have adored Aunt Liz since first meeting her more than 20 years ago. She was a lovely lady who welcomed me with open arms, a gracious nature and marvelous sense of humor. Liz retired after teaching third and fourth grades for twenty-five years. She was the first person to inspire me and make me believe that I too, could have a fabulous, active retirement.

An avid hiker and gardener, Liz could walk circles around me even after a double hip replacement in her mid-70s. The entire front yard of her suburban home is planted with roses… no lawn just rose bushes of every imaginable color and variety. And her back yard had no lawn either, but a wild conglomeration of trees, plants, and objects from wind chimes, sculptures (some made by my DH), and of course, bird feeders. Liz has belonged to the Audoubon Society for decades and taught me the difference between an ibis, an egret, and a heron.

Aunt Liz accompanied the DH and I on many travel adventures including many places in the US, Italy, Turkey and China. We made so many fun memories on our trips. I’ll never forget sitting on a park bench with Liz in Bursa,Turkey when a nicely dressed older gentleman came up and insistently offered to help us. When we finally convinced him we were fine and he walked away, I said to Liz, “I think he wanted to take you home with him.” And she replied, “I think I wanted to go!”

I’ll also remember Liz at age 77 climbing on the Great Wall of China! She was the oldest person in our tour group and actually walked farther on the Wall than I did! And then there was one of our last trips to Italy (Liz went with us twice), Liz had just read Under The Tuscan Sun, and convinced us to drive all over the Tuscan hill towns. I most vividly remember the DH, Liz and I sitting near the ancient city wall of Cortona at sunset, drinking Peroni beers.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea that Aunt Liz is my own personal Shero! And happily, she’s a fan of mine too! She’s read both my books and pronounced them, “Marvelous!” (Her favorite word of praise.) Fortunately, she’s never said one word about some of the racier love scenes. AHEM! Of all the people I know, I most want to be like her!

So it came as no surprise that last week, on the auspicious occasion of her 90th birthday, Liz was given not one, not two, but THREE different birthday parties! And knowing her as I do, I’m sure she had a BLAST at all of them and ate lots of ice cream (Hagen Daas chocolate is her favorite)!

But I couldn’t help but think: What will I do on my 90th birthday, assuming I’m lucky enough to have one?!?! I hope I have three parties, just like Liz, and I can’t wait to see all the celebrating when Liz turns 100 in 2020!

Okay, let’s pretend it is YOUR 90th birthday. What kind of party do you want (and yes, it can be anywhere)? What gifts ? What special party favors (and of course the cabana boys and gladiators count as party favors)? Pull out ALL the stops! After all, you only turn 90 once!

Par-ty, Par-ty!

by Donna MacMeans

Sorry, it’s not a launch party. No exciting excerpts or promising premises today. Plenty of those coming up in the near future, though.

Today, I’m celebrating my birthday. It’s actually tomorrow but, you know, the older I get – the longer the celebration lasts (grins)! So party with me. Celebrate your birthday – no matter the date. It’s Friday. Let’s all just kick back and have fun. I’ve instructed the cabana boys to be generous with the frothy drinks and I’ve ripped open a few bags of Halloween candy for treats. There’s still a full week to replace the evidence. Please note that fire regulations restrict the number of candles I can put on the cake (grin).

For those into such things, I’m a Scorpio. Right on the cusp, actually. According to, that means I’m determined, forceful, emotional, intuitive, powerful, passionate (yeah!), exciting and magnetic. Yup – that’s me (very big grin). I’m also jealous, resentful, compulsive, obsessive, secretive and obstinate – well, maybe not so much. I was really into this astrology-thing when I read that good professions for me would include anything that involved analysis, investigation, research, dealing with practicalities, and the solving of mysteries. When one considers the mysteries inherent in the IRS code – it’s apparent both CPA and historical romance writer fit me to a tee.

As I’m on the cusp for Libra, I read those traits as well. Diplomatic, urbane, romantic, charming, easygoing, sociable, idealistic and peaceable – well heck, those work for me as well. Downside – indecisive, changeable, gullible, easily influenced, flirtatious and self-indulgent – some of those fit. Maybe I can pick and choose the traits I like between the two signs. Cuspiness has its priviledges.

I was born in the year of the Dragon which means I believe rules and restrictions are made for other people. I’m an extroverted bundle of energy, gifted and utterly irrepressible, confident, fearless in the face of challenge and inevitably successful —no, don’t think that’s me.

I am, supposively, a water dragon and I must admit I experience a creative rebirth when I’m near the ocean. So that fits. Dragons are also compatible with roosters, the GR was pleased to hear that. This site also says the Dragon’s originality is the most impressive and outstanding of all is characteristics – like the sound of that. Just in case you were wondering…this site says suitable gifts for a dragon include tarot cards, camera, a copy of the I Ching, mirror, a family crest, and a mobile phone. What! No bling!

Speaking of presents – there’s a pile of them by the front door. I think my husband is taunting me – does yours do this? He has shopped exclusively online and hasn’t opened any of the parcels – but has left them there to entice me with the stack. I do like presents. It doesn’t matter what kind of present it is – as long as it’s wrapped. I prefer the paper/scotch tape type of writing rather than the pretty bags – but I put other people’s presents in pretty bags all the time. I like to go to the hard work of opening a gift, but have no patience for the wrapping of one.

I’m hoping for a new laptop. Those don’t look like laptop boxes by the door, but hope springs eternal. As a result of my kids using my laptop for their homework papers, and I suspect for the occasional online shoot ’em up game, I no longer have a delete key/or function. If I make an error, I have to backspace. That’s a pain. However, I suspect I’ll have to buy my own laptop one of these days. My family learned long ago that they can’t go wrong with a book for a gift and I think that’s what’s in the pileup by the door – more fodder for the TBR pile.

This past year I’ve released The Seduction of a Duke and a story in the anthology, Tails of Love. I won a number of awards for The Trouble with Moonlight – so those three titles will be giveaways for today’s blog. I also have a couple of DVDs from Lori Foster’s event that contain an interview with myself and several other authors. Those are up for grabs. So tell me – What are you hoping for your birthday/ Christmas? Do you believe in astrology symbols? Any Scorpios out there? What’s your sign – does it fit? Do you have any thoughts on wrapping paper? Singing cards? Birthstones? (Mine is an opal, by the way). Do you do anything special on your big day? Let’s celebrate!

Life’s Been Good To Me So Far

by Beth

Anyone else have Joe Walsh’s song stuck in their head or is it just me? *g*

Happy Birthday to Me! Yep, today’s my 38th birthday and, in case you can’t tell, I love my special day *g* I’ve been so blessed in so many wonderful ways – my family, my terrific friends (the bandits and bandit buddies top that list!) my writing career, good health…what’s not to celebrate?

When I was little, my birthday meant having my family around me after dinner for cake and ice cream. My mom would make Butterfudge Mallow Cake – a dense chocolate cake with butterscotch filling and marshmallow frosting – and put those little sugar flowers and decorations all over the cake. I’d open a few gifts and blow out the candles and then dive in (as you can tell by my pictures, I loved cake *g*)

Some of my favorite gifts include the Cookie Monster slippers shown in my sixth birthday picture (except every time I wore them our poodle would go nuts, chase me around the house and attack Cookie’s head) a Big Wheel (anyone remember those? so much fun!) and the brown leather jacket I got when I was 16. Of course, that was 1986 so the jacket had HUGE shoulder pads and patches of suede. No fringe though 🙂

Nowadays my favorite birthday presents are the handmade cards my husband and kids make – my daughters are great artists and my son makes cards using old pictures that always make me laugh *g* I spend my birthday writing but I refuse to cook so dinner is whatever I’m in the mood for – usually Chinese take-out *g* Today might be pizza though as I’m craving a big slice of cheese and mushroom pizza from the local pizzeria. No cake though unless one of my daughters decide to do some baking (yes, my son can bake but he has basketball tryouts and won’t be home *g*)

This Saturday my mom’s cooking me dinner (my pick *g*) and will bake my choice of cake. My sister, her kids and husband will be there and my sister will give me the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives cookbook she bought me when we went shopping Saturday 🙂 I hope she wraps it!

Now all I have to do is decide what I want my mom to make for dinner and what kind of cake I’m craving 😉

What about you? What are your favorite birthday memories? Favorite gifts? How do you celebrate your special day? And the most important question of all: What’s your favorite birthday cake?

And since it’s my birthday there should be presents, right? So I’m giving away a copy of Not Without Her Family and a copy of one of Tawny’s books (winner’s choice of Double Dare, Does She Dare? or Risque Business) to one commenter!