First Friday: Five great games!

I’m a huge fan of games, note I did not write board games, or card games or video games. I love them all. In this season of giving, whether to a loved one or to a toy drive, here are five games I highly recommend because not only are they fun, but they can also be adapted to accommodate a range of ages. I’m not part of any affiliate program. The links are there for your convenience.

  1. Labyrinth – The original German title translates as “the crazy maze.” Why? Because with each turn, the game board changes. As you race to collect treasures, you can work with or work against the other players to reshape the routes to the various treasures. It says 8 or up, but we started playing it when my son was 5 and he not only kept up with the adults, he usually beats us. This is a great game for spatial reasoning. Available at Toys R Us and other retailers.
  2. Perpetual Commotion – This is basically the card game I grew up calling “Nertz.” It’s a high-speed game with elements of solitaire that can easily be adjusted for younger players by dealing them fewer cards. You could also play in teams where one person is responsible for watching the feeder pile and one person flips the deck. It’s available at Amazon and other retailers.
  3. Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It! In this cooperative game, the highlight  is spinning a Goldbug, when sets off a timed search for objects hidden throughout the game board. Cards indicate if you will be looking for kites or hot dogs or something else in the overstuffed and often comical drawings of Richard Scarry. Unlike Hi-Ho-Cherry-O or Candyland, I have no urge to stick a fork in my eye to avoid playing this game. Available at Amazon and other retailers. 
  4. Apples to Apples – This game comes in myriad versions. I’m partial to the kids version, especially when playing with family because it contains cards such as “My mom” and “under the bed.” While the former should always be paired with “beautiful” or “nice,” the latter is best played on the person with the messiest room. Available at Creative Kidstuff and other retailers. 
  5. My last game I recommend this year skews older and is the newest one in my household, but also one became a quick favorite. Evolution: The Beginning. Even though the instruction book almost as overwhelming as those for King of Tokyo and Settlers of Catan (two other games our family loves), the card-based game play is straight-forward and fun. The artwork is beautiful and the structure of the game allows for multiple strategies to victory.  The action is low-key and it takes less than a half an hour making it a great way to wind down before bedtime. I believe it is a Target exclusive, but may be available through resellers.

So there you have it – some awesome ways to spend the time with friends and family throughout the winter. With these games, your only awkward discussions will involve what to play next.

If you have a favorite game, please share it below. Thanks.

Five things I’m thankful for

For my first Friday Five, I’m tackling gratitude, because this month, and this week in particular, I full of thankfulness. Here goes.

  1. I’m thankful birthday season is over and I do not have to deal with party invites and RSVPs until October rolls around in 2017.
  2. I’m thankful it’s boot season.

    These are on my wishlist.

    These are on my wish list.

  3. I’m thankful for Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy and finally getting relief for the vertigo I’ve endured for the last 18 months.
  4. I’m thankful that I’ll have writing news to share in the near future. Newsletter subscribers will be the first to find out what it is.
  5. I’m thankful I got to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. I grew up following them and learned the mantra “Wait until next year.” Waiting through a lot of next years taught me lessons in patience and hope that apply to my writing career. I wait for the next book to take off and be the one that gets on the shelves in Target, or at least gets a high-profile review. In the meantime, I sure do appreciate all you loyal fans, er readers, who’ve stuck with me. Can I add a 6th? Because if so,
  6. I’m thankful for you.

Spotlight on Denise Devine

Now that October is over, my life returns to the normal level of chaos and I can once again operate my spotlight. This time it found author bestselling author Denise Devine and her newest release A Merry Little Christmas.

Merry Connor is struggling to feed her two children, pay heat bills and fix her secondhand car. Though she’s barely making it financially, life is good. That is, compared to two years ago when she lost everything—thanks to her lying, deceiving ex-husband. She’s come a long way since then and doesn’t intend to look back. Even so, it’ll be a long time before she trusts anyone with her heart again.

Tony Lewis hasn’t had a merry Christmas since his wife and son perished in a car collision three years ago. The holidays are lonely without his family, but his heart begins to mend when he meets Merry Connor and her two rambunctious kids. He can’t stop thinking about her and yearns to get closer to her. Will she turn him away once she learns of his connection to her ex-husband?

For a limited time, A Merry Little Christmas is on sale for $.99.

Buy Links:

Amazon USA

Amazon UK:

Amazon CA: 

D2D – iTunes:

Denise Devine is a USA TODAY bestselling author of romantic comedy, contemporary romance and she also loves to write inspirational fiction. She wrote her first book, a mystery, at thirteen and has been writing ever since. She writes about true love, happy endings and stories that touch your heart.

First Friday: The #TealPumpkin edition

If you’ve followed me on social media or on this blog, you may have noticed I’m a passionate supporter of the Teal Pumpkin Project to ensure even those with food allergies can have a safe and happy Halloween.

My daughter has severe peanut allergies and as much as we love Halloween around my house, it is a high-risk period because, let’s be honest, how many of us can resist a Reece’s? My daughter, yes, but some kids snack on a few and then dig their hands into a bowl filled with all kinds of treats and spread that peanut-butter around and let’s not talk about school lunch the next day. Instead, I’m offering 5 ways to get your house ready for a safe, fun and happy Halloween.

  1. Don’t let the kids grab the candy in a free-for-all when the bell rings. Have the designated door opener give each trick-or-treater a generous handful instead.
  2. Keep a bowl of peanut-free treats. We give out a lot of Skittles, Starbursts and Laffy-taffy. If a trick-or-treater gets a Snicker’s bar at my house, it is only because my children have returned home and we are redistributing the stuff they can’t eat. Wondering what candy is safe to give out? My Target had a terrific display and handy list of ingredients.
  3. Remember that peanut allergies are not the only allergies. Some kids are sensitive to gluten, eggs, dairy, or others. Accommodating all food allergies can be a challenge which leads to
  4. Offer a non-food alternative. I’ve given out Halloween themed rubber ducks, Play-dough (although it’s not safe for kids with wheat allergies), pencils, bubbles, stickers, spiders and noise makers. You can buy large quantities at Oriental Trading  but since I get less than 100 kids at the door, I head to Dollar Tree. With 12 pencils or a 4 pack of eyeball bubbles for a dollar, I can offer something fun and safe without breaking the bank.
  5. Last – but not least – make sure trick-or-treaters know you are part of the Teal Pumpkin project. Paint a pumpkin teal, hang a sign at the door, post a yard sign, or do the house up in teal. And don’t be surprised if you get a few extra thank yous. The Teal Pumpkin is such a small thing to do, but your compassion makes a huge difference to those of us on the front lines of food allergies.

 

 

Renewing a hobby: Instagram

I am a latecomer to the Instagram party. I thought about setting up an account dozens of times, but the thought, “I have to learn another social media network,” held me back.

This past month, I took the plunge. I want to learn more about it, because my kids will be on there. Also, I want to get back into photography and this seems like a good place to share work. Instagram has motivated me to make better use of my phone as a legitimate camera, capable of creating artistic shots, and not simply quick snaps because I cannot reach my digital SLR before the moment passes. I have a lot to learn, but I love this shot of a grasshopper.

A guest in my reading nook. #insectsofinstagram

A photo posted by Lola Karns (@lolakarns) on

I have yet to post the obligatory #authorsofinstagram post of my work space.

In the meantime, there will be cat photos. And nature shots, and food, and whatever else tickles my fancy. Follow me, @lolakarns, on Instagram

Spotlight on Private Wolf by TL Reeve

After getting a replacement light bulb, my spotlight is once again functional. This time it found fellow Decadent Publishing author TL Reeve and Private Wolf, part of the Black Hills Wolves shapeshifter series. After reading this tease, I can’t wait to read it. Curious? Read on!

privatewolfShawn Blu, tracker and private investigator, has come home. As a pack tracker, he’s ready to defend Los Lobos and use his contacts to find pack members and bring them back into the fold. So, when Miss Fern, his aunt, asks him to find Brienne Talbert, he’s happy to help out. What he isn’t expecting is to find his mate.

Brienne left home at sixteen, knowing she’d return to the Black Hills and Los Lobos one day. As it stands, in six months she’ll graduate with her master’s degree and there’s no way anyone will stop her now. However, when the hunky slab of wolf Shawn Blu shows up with a tempting offer—a week with her pack, no strings attached—she’s willing to reconsider her harsh stance about not going home.

When one weekend turns into a mating she hadn’t planned on, will she be able to leave it all behind and return to school, or will the call of her pack be too much to turn her back on?

Not convinced? Here’s an excerpt:

Shawn Blu walked into Los Lobos Café and spotted his aunt at a table near the far wall. In front of her sat a paperback book and a mug, along with a pastry. Behind the counter, Ero took the order from a new female. Her long dark hair was pulled into a messy bun, and her gray eyes glittered with—arousal? If the other wolf noticed, he appeared indifferent to it. Oh well. Bypassing his normal routine, of ordering coffee and Danish, he marched over and sat at the table where his aunt waited. Fern glanced up at him. Her warm, affectionate smile greeted him.

“Good morning, Auntie.” He leaned in and kissed her cheek. “That twinkle in your eye says you’re up to no good.”

Fern laughed and patted his hand. “I have a job for you.”

A job. Why hadn’t she mentioned it last night when he came over for dinner?

Why did they have to meet in the café? “Okay. What is it?”

“Well, technically, it is two jobs….”

“Okay.”

Ero approached with a cup in one hand and a sweet treat in the other. “You didn’t order. I see why now.” He grinned then winked at Fern.

“I didn’t want to interrupt your time with Cynthia,” Shawn teased. “She’s interested in you.”

“Don’t I know it.” Ero frowned. “But there’s…the spark’s not there.” He glanced at his brother, Luc, who sat in his usual spot.

“Say no more, I understand.” He did, too. They were waiting for their perfect mate. Might be a while, but Shawn had a feeling it would happen. “Thanks for the coffee.”

“You’re welcome.”

Taking a sip of the piping-hot brew, he waited for Ero to leave before returning to the conversation with his aunt. The way Fern watched him—assessing him—left him uneasy. “Should I be afraid of what you’re going to ask of me?”

“Never,” she assured him. “In fact, you’ll win tons of brownie points with Miss Claire if you do this for me.”

Private Wolf Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2blSSYZ

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2cfceo9

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2bv9wqz

Bookstrand: http://bit.ly/2bGeR1F

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2bmzSML

ARE: http://bit.ly/2bFXLfK

iBook: http://apple.co/2bVJX1A

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2bTfD82

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2cieafU

Author Bio

TL Reeve, is a bestselling, multi-published author with Cobblestone Press, Decadent Publishing, Evernight Publishing, Loose-Id and ARe Books. Living in Alabama, TL misses Los Angeles, and will one-day return to Southern California to ride the waves at Huntington Beach. When not writing something hot and sexy, TL can be found curled up with a good book, or working on homework with a cute little pixie.

You can sign-up for her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/bv07fn

First Friday 5 Back to School

My kids (finally) go back to school on Tuesday. They are ready and so am I, especially since those days my husband works away from his home office, I’ll be alone and unsupervised. I’ll be free from the pressure of being a role-model. Here are five things I’m looking forward to doing, although not necessarily all on the same day:

  1. Ice cream for lunch.
  2. A two-hour power nap.
  3. Cake for lunch, possibly with ice cream on the side.
  4. Finish the manuscript I started in April.
  5. Binge watch something. Should I rewatch Firefly, Fargo, or Orphan Black? Should I try something new like Stranger Things or Mr. Robot? What do you suggest?
    With any luck, I’ll get through a couple of programs before the next school break.

Happy Book Birthday to me!

Facebook reminded me that two years ago, Bad Traveler debuted. While it never hit the Bad-Traveler300x450Amazon top 100, I’m amazed how often Bad Traveler appears as a category top 50 seller. I love that readers keep discovering Bad Traveler. Seriously, you readers make me happy.

bookbirthdayswagYou know what else makes me happy? Swag. Who doesn’t love free stuff, especially books, pens, coasters and more? To celebrate my book birthday, I have a Rafflecopter.  My giveaway will include these items, plus whatever else I can fit in the box for domestic shipping (P.S. – this is open to US residents only).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to bake a birthday cake. Any suggestions which type?

First Friday Five Lessons from #RWA16

Last month I attended the Romance Writers of America annual conference. Since embarking on my writing career, this is the third time I have been able to attend. The 2016 conference marked my first visit to beautiful San Diego, CA. I wish I could go more often, both to San Diego and to the conference. In the meantime, here are five lessons I learned.

  1. Romance authors are wonderful people. We are smart, funny, hard-working, determined, curious, gracious and generous.

    Fantastic keynote speaker Beverly Jenkins

    Fantastic keynote speaker Beverly Jenkins

  2. Always wear comfortable shoes, especially when volunteering as I did during the Readers for Life Literacy Signing. You never know when you will need to race through the building to lend a hand to one of those wonderful authors.

    Helping at Readers for Life: with author Camille Di Maio

    Helping at Readers for Life: with author Camille Di Maio

  3. Be ready with the one line elevator pitch ANYTIME. I am on cloud 9 that my dream publishing house requested a full manuscript based on a one minute interaction.
  4. Small mental shifts in how one approaches the business of writing can be powerful. Damon Suede and Heidi Cullinan shared ways to make promotion a more playful rather than dreaded part of of being an author. When Mary Burton quipped “It’s not concrete, folks, it’s words,” I found the idea liberating.
  5. Last, but not least, I learned I once again picked up too much amazing swag and too many books. This is small sample. RWA16swagThe books are in another room. I can’t keep it all. Over the next few months, I’ll draw names from my newsletter subscribers and send out some goodies. I even have a few things that I can ship overseas. If you aren’t subscribed, sign up here.

Flash #Sale on Bad Traveler

If you haven’t had a chance to pick up Bad Traveler, now is perfect time. Decadent Publishing is having a flash sale this weekend and Bad Traveler is one of five titles just $.99 at Amazon and All Romance Ebooks!

badtravelersale Read what one Amazon 5 star reviewer calls “Just perfect for curling up after a long day to enjoy yourself in a book.”

 

With half the country under a heat advisory, may as well stay inside and read this weekend.

Be sure to check out the other Decadent titles part of this 99 Cent promotion

Island Pleasures by KT Grant

Blue Moon over Bliss Lake by Cate Masters

Burning Love by Cassandra Carr

Cabin Fever by Stephanie Williams

Happy Reading!