Prosecco Christmas (Blog Tour)

Prosecco Christmas

by Sylvia Ashby

Family is where life begins.

And what better time to spend with your family than Christmas week?

Ashley and Giacomo go to Upper Swainswick, a postcard village ten minutes’ drive from Bath, to stay with Ashley’s mum and stepdad. It’s their last visit before the arrival of their first child.

But babies have a habit of being unpredictable.

So when Ashley goes into labour on Christmas Eve, three weeks ahead of schedule, it takes everyone by surprise.

She’s not ready! Her perfect Birth Plan is packed away in her hospital bag two hundred miles away, she has no going home outfit, and she has a live event planned for New Year’s Eve for her YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. People have been signing up for it for weeks. She can’t possibly disappoint them on the last day of the year. What is she to do?

The tinsel gets even more tangled when Giacomo’s parents decide to fly from Italy to meet their first grandchild. Hotels are fully booked, so everyone has to stay under the same roof.

Would eleven people in the house, not counting the baby, turn out to be simply too much for Ashley?

Read an Excerpt

Predictability is key in having an uncomplicated birth, I realise.

Joslyn, a young and tall American lady at the antenatal classes, even tried to use an ancient Japanese fortune-telling device – omikuji to predict the correct birth date for her child. I checked it on the internet and omikuji is basically a paper strip with a prophecy written on it and can be found at shrines and temples throughout Japan.

Only Joslyn wasn’t in Japan, but in England and we don’t have many shrines and temples around. So she made do with a free omikuji generator online. She got “uncertain bad luck”, “uncertain good luck” and “middle bad luck” and was quite hysterical for the rest of her pregnancy. I don’t think she scheduled a Caesarean either.

‘Giacomo, could you give us a hand with the wine? I want to pick some good Prosecco. You stay in the car, darling,’ Mum chirps towards me as she hurries out. ‘We won’t be a mo.’

‘I’ll come with you,’ I cry after her. I don’t fancy spending the next half an hour alone in the car. Mum’s “moments” can be anywhere up to an hour at a time.

I open the car door and put my foot out. I step right into a puddle which soaks my boot with German efficiency.

‘Great.’ I groan.

I turn in my seat and try to get out of the car avoiding the puddle with my other foot. Hopefully, it’ll be warm inside Marks & Spencer’s so my boot will dry out fast. I manage to step over the wet patch and slide out of the seat when a Braxton Hicks hits me so hard I double over in pain. I close my eyes, breathe and pant for a few seconds. Hot sweat flushes down my body and soaks me all the way down to my, already wet, feet.  This contraction is particularly strong. It makes me grip my stomach, huddle my shoulders and shiver against the strong December wind.

I really wish I was at home, in bed, and not in a supermarket car park braving the wind. “I’m pregnant and in pain!” I want to shout after Mum who’s just disappearing through the supermarket’s sliding doors. Next to her is Michael, who is still tapping on his phone and not looking where he’s going.

‘You all right, love?’ I hear a man’s voice from close proximity. I look up. It’s the man I saw this morning collecting donations by the M&S front door. The one with the Rudolf jumper and Santa hat. He’s looking at me with an open interest.

‘I’m fine, thanks.’ I straighten up and brush my hair back. ‘It’s Braxton Hicks,’ I explain. ‘It’s not the real thing.’

The man doesn’t look convinced. He shakes his green donation bucket, making it rattle thoughtfully.

‘Braxton Hicks, uh?’ he says. ‘It’s doesn’t look like Braxton Hicks to me.’

I glare at him, irate. Why does everyone around me think they are childbirth experts? Mum, Michael, now this man in a ridiculous reindeer jumper with a donation bucket.

‘I’ve just been to the hospital,’ I inform him, ‘where I was thoroughly examined,’ “by a nurse with a uterus” I almost add but stop myself. ‘They assured me these are Braxton Hicks’.

‘Right,’ the man doesn’t waver. ‘Who did you say examined you?’

Honestly! Why does this man think I have time for chit-chat when I’m in so much pain?

I lean back against the car for support. I feel quite faint all of a sudden.

‘I can’t remember,’ I tell him breathlessly. ‘And does it really matter anyway?’

The man shakes his donation bucket again.

‘I think they might have got it wrong.’

‘Maybe.’ I force myself to nod politely. ‘What makes you say that?’

‘That wet patch on the front of your jeans is a pretty big telltale,’ he says, eying my legs.

I look down.

‘Oh, my God!’ I squeal. ‘My waters broke!’

Meet Sylvia Ashby

Sylvia Ashby is fond of the written word: books, blog posts, recipes, even an explanation to the HM Revenue & Customs as to why she thinks skirts should be exempt from VAT – she’s written it all!

She likes travelling and has lived all over Europe – London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Sofia, Bulgaria. Currently, she lives in Leuven, Belgium with her husband, daughter, son and a sparrow called Jack, who comes occasionally to peck the seeds she leaves for him on top of the garden shed.

Blog: www.sylvia-ashby.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bysylvia_a

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sylviaashbywriter/

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sylvia-Ashby/e/B00DK8M2NM/

Sylvia is giving away a pair of Prosecco funny socks. Enter at Rafflecopter for your chance to win.

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Operation Self-Care is Go

Earlier this year, I posted about how close I’d been getting to burnout. I promised myself I would figure out how to reestablish the balance in my life. So I’ve decided to launch an initiative I call Operation Self-Care.

Even though actually achieving a reaffirmed life balance has proven exceptionally hard, by recognizing the signs that my body, my mind, and really the whole universe has been sending me for a very long time, I believe I’m moving in the right direction.

Operation Self-Care will – sort of – happen in phases. This is partly because a) there’s something to be said for taking baby steps, and b) I admit that I kind of have no idea what the hell I’m doing. There are probably people out there who would take my money to create a self-care plan for me. But since I’m winging it, here’s what I’ve come up with.

Areas of Focus

To begin, I’ve identified five specific areas that, if targeted, should put me on a path to my end game, which is that life-work-motherhood-writerly balance.

  • Nutrition. I’ve never been that good at eating a “perfect” diet. I have an incredibly strong sweet tooth that I swear was genetically inherited from both my grandfathers, who could smell sweets a mile away. But while I was pregnant and breastfeeding, I became hyper-aware of what I was putting in my body, since all of it would be passed on to Babycakes in one way or another. I’m still very conscientious about what I feed her, though it seems that she, too, has inherited the sweet tooth gene. Since going back to work in the fall of 2015, however, I have started to eat my feelings. Plus, I cannot seem to get through a day of work without a can of Coke at lunchtime. This school year, I have already started making some minor headway in better food choices. But it’s hard. Really, really hard.
  • Fitness. Normally fitness and nutrition go hand in hand, but I’ve separated them because, at present, I can’t think of them as a whole. I’ve never been particularly athletic, and I honestly hate working out. But from the time I was in pre-wedding shape-up mode in 2009 until I got pregnant, I was pretty committed to working out. I made my way through several Beachbody programs, though admittedly never actually followed one to completion before either restarting or trying something new. But fear of miscarriage kept me from doing more than walking during my pregnancy, and I just never got back on the bandwagon.
  • Sleep. I don’t get enough sleep. Sleep is so important. It’s when both your brain and your body heal from the day. People who sleep well, and get enough sleep, find it easier to lose weight, have energy to actually make it through the day, and are generally more pleasant to be around.
  • Stress Management. This is commonly referred to as finding “me time”. I used to have this in spades. Now I kind of suck at it. Somewhere along the past two and a half years, I convinced myself that I didn’t need to take time to myself – or maybe that I didn’t deserve it or wasn’t supposed to take it anymore. The things I always did that helped me recenter – reading a book, playing piano for a couple of hours, vegging out with a favorite movie – have gone away. I still find time to read, but it’s sporadic. Ask the stack of two months’ worth of magazines on the end table beside me.
  • Mental Health. I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety in the spring of 2016. Technically, I was diagnosed with currently having generalized anxiety, but because it came on during the second half of Babycakes’s first year of life (postpartum depression and anxiety disorders can manifest any time during the first year after you give birth), it started off as undiagnosed PPA. I only went to one counselling session, where I got confirmation that I was not actually losing my mind, and my anxiety is fortunately not severe enough to require medication. There are other interventions I can and do use, and I’ve learned to recognize flare ups. But I don’t always manage it well. This, I think is an ongoing thing, but maybe if I can figure out the other areas of focus, this will better fall into place.

So what will this look like? I’m going to try tackling one area at a time. Baby steps are important, I think, to making this work.

It’s time I do this for me.

THE ONE I’M WITH Print Release Giveaway – Winners Announced!

The Print Release Giveaway for THE ONE I’M WITH has ended, and winners have been notified!

And the Grand prize winner is:

  • Mary Lou MacKenzie (GRAND PRIZE )

Winners of a Kindle set of the entire Sweet Somethings series:

  • Vladimir Palyuga
  • Rachel Flavin
  • Alan Saxon
  • Kimberly Camille Tiu
  • Kathy Bergman

Thanks to everyone who checked out my giveaway!

THE ONE I’M WITH in Print October 12th (GIVEAWAY)

Who wants to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card AND a signed copy of THE ONE I’M WITH?

The truth is, letting yourself fall in love means daring to risk heartbreak.

Next Thursday, October 12th, THE ONE I’M WITH comes out in paperback. To celebrate, I’m running a giveaway.

To enter, head over to Rafflecopter and check out all your chances to win.

One Grand Prize winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card AND a signed copy of THE ONE I’M WITH. Five winners will receive all four Sweet Somethings titles for Kindle.

The giveaway runs from October 6th through October 18th, and winners will be notified by midnight on October 20th.

The Diplomat’s Daughter (Virtual Tour)

The Diplomat’s Daughter

by Karin Tanabe

Genre: Historical Fiction

Author Karin Tanabe’s Japanese father was three years old when the firebombing of Tokyo and Yokohama occurred in May of 1945—his very first memory was seeing his city on fire and hearing the cries of babies on the shore, where they had been carried for safety. While many Americans associate World War II with a parent or grandparent who fought bravely in Europe, Karin’s understanding of the war started with her father being attacked by American bombs.

 

These memories, as well as those of a family friend whose own wife and family were interned in a war relocation center, and additional friends who were born in captivity, piqued Karin’s curiosity, and spurred her to write a love story born out of one of the most unlikely places: a mixed-race internment camp. THE DIPLOMAT’S DAUGHTER is a captivating and informed tale of three young people divided by the horrors of World War II and their journey back to one another.

An Excerpt from The Diplomat’s Daughter

A week later, Helene started to feel the baby kick. Christian was walking back from his second day at the German school when he saw his mother approaching. She had a smile on her face that belied her dismal surroundings. Christian had planned to tell her how his German abilities did not extend to writing essays in the language, but when he saw her happiness, he decided to delay the bad news. Within just a few days of his arrival, he’d learned why he couldn’t attend the American school. The elected spokesman for their side of the camp was intensely pro-German

and anyone who sent their children to the American-style Federal School was deemed a traitor. There were whispers that one family’s food had been withheld for several days because their daughter, who spoke no German, enrolled there.

“Put your hand here,” Helene said when she’d reached Christian. She placed his right hand on the top of her stomach. She was wearing the dress that was given to women when they arrived, and Christian thought it made her look plain and homespun, definitely more Mrs. Tomato Soup than Mrs. Country Club.

They waited a few minutes, but nothing happened. Christian started to fidget, and his mother laughed at him. “Do you have somewhere to be? Wait to feel the baby.”

So they waited. Mothers walked by them and smiled, teenagers coming out of school slowed down and whispered, and finally, when Christian was about to pull his hand away, embarrassed, the baby kicked.

“I felt it!” he said, pressing his hand harder against his mother’s belly.

“I told you it would be worth the wait,” said Helene, her voice full of delight.

Christian thought of the tiny body inside his mother bursting with life. He imagined the growing organs, the heartbeat, the developing brain and he felt sorry for it. He wished it could be born far from loaded guns and barbed wire. At least it would have love, he thought, looking at his mother’s joyful face.

Helene kissed her son’s hand and walked off, letting him catch up to the other boys who were making their way from the school to the German mess hall, where they worked prepping the next day’s milk delivery. Internees in the camp woke up to a bottle of fresh milk on their stoop every day, one of the measures that the camp’s warden took to show that he was going well beyond the laws of the Geneva Convention.

The camp, it was whispered among the internees, was one President Roosevelt took great pride in, and the guards didn’t want any suicides or fence jumpers to ruin his vision. “They want happy prisoners,” his father had told him. “So just remember, it could be much worse.”

For Christian, sharing seven hundred square feet with another family and sleeping on floors with scorpions did not make for a happy prisoner. The view of miles of barbed-wire fencing him in did not help, either. The orphanage had changed him—he felt it in his newfound patience. Even gentleness. The way he felt toward Inge, had guarded her on the train, he was sure the old Christian would not have been as kind. But it didn’t mean he was elated about his circumstances.

Then there was the camp’s segregation. In two days, Christian had learned how bad it was. Though he had seen the large group of Japanese internees when he came in, invisible lines kept them apart inside. The Germans and Japanese, despite being allies in the war, occupied separate sections of the camp, ate in separate facilities, worked different jobs, and played different sports. The only places where they mixed were the hospital—as illness never discriminated—and the swimming pool. The few Italians were sprinkled among the Germans, but they kept to themselves, too.

About Karin Tanabe

Karin Tanabe is the author of The Gilded Years, The Price of Inheritance, and The List. A former Politico reporter, her writing has also appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, and The Washington Post. She has made frequent appearances as a celebrity and politics expert on Entertainment Tonight, CNN, and The CBS Early Show. A graduate of Vassar College, Karin lives in Washington, DC. To learn more visit KarinTanabe.com and @KarinTanabe.

Buy links:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-diplomats-daughter-karin-tanabe/1124863895

GIveaway!

Karin Tanabe will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $15 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Billionaire Ever After (Book Blast Tour)

Billionaire Ever After

by Mary Hughes,Victoria Pinder Arabpour, Tia Morris, Courtney Runion Hunt, Ann Omasta, Christine Kingsley, Traci E Hall, Rossie Cortes, Margo Bond Collins,  A.E .Easterlin Elayne Cox, Blaire Edens Lateia Elam Sandifer , Tierney O’Malley, Cheryl Phipps, Michele De Winton, K.L. Brady, Talia Hunter, Allison Gatta, Debbie White, Stephanie Queen, Caitlyn Lynch Catherine Bilson, Cristiane Serruya

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Feel the sparks fly off the hot romance and action-driven pages of these EXCLUSIVE TITLES—unavailable separately in ebook format anywhere else!

 

From sweet to sensual, they’ll satisfy your most indulgent fantasies as you fall in love with an array of billionaire beaus in this contemporary romance collection by some of today’s hottest New York Times, USA Today, and International bestselling authors.

 

Quench your book-boyfriend addiction with page-turning stories overflowing with decadent luxury, heart-warming love, heated adventure, steamy scenes, and happily-ever-afters.

 

Featuring billionaires from bad boys to Marines and CEOs to cowboys, this set will take you around the country and jet-setting around the globe with intense, passionate men who always get what they want and fulfill the desires of the women they crave.

 

Relish each journey in this LIMITED-TIME collection PACKED with novels and novellas that will provide over one hundred hours of reading.

 

Grab your copy today before these hot billionaires fly off into the sunset!

Buy today for only $0.99

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Billionaire-Ever-After-Margo-Collins-ebook/dp/B072DY3HR4/ref=sr_1_1

BN:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/billionaire-ever-after-margo-bond-collins/1126311172?ean=9781537897288

Here’s a sneak peak of what’s included in this jam-packed anthology:

A Bridesmaid for the Billionaire by Courtney Runion Hunt

Being a bridesmaid in her best friend’s wedding means Jenny Malone will have to face her college sweetheart. Finn Jones shattered her heart when he left her behind on graduation day. Over the years since Jenny and Finn parted, he’s grown up and made himself a billionaire in the process. When they help their best friend elope in the islands, will Jenny and Finn find their second chance at love or will it be just another island fling?

Excerpt

“I want a billionaire too.” A bedraggled Jenny Malone greeted her best friend when she opened the front door of her penthouse in Thorne Tower. Pausing in the glorious marble entryway, perfumed with the rich scent of lilies and roses from the enormous display centered on a carved wood table near the elevator, Jenny tossed her sodden cheap black umbrella into the stand by the door and slipped off her soaked pumps. When her bare feet pressed against the chilled marble floor, she shivered. Even though it was only early October, the Manhattan night outside pelted down cold rain from an indifferent sky. She’d gotten soaked on her dash from the subway.

“Bad date with your tinderfella?” Callie Matthews led her friend into the sumptuously decorated penthouse that was now her home. In June, just as school ended for the year, Ashton Thorne hired Callie to care for his son, Oliver, over the summer. As a struggling kindergarten teacher with space in both her schedule and her bank account, Callie accepted the challenge. Within just a few weeks, Ash and Callie fell madly in love. Now, her friend and former co-worker lived in the lap of luxury with a diamond that cost more than Jenny’s outstanding student loans winking on her finger.

Jenny wasn’t jealous or even envious. She loved Callie like the sister she’d never had. But, there was a tiny part of Jenny that wished it was her getting breakfast served on silver platters instead of grabbing a stale bagel at the local bodega. Or being driven around Manhattan in a climate-controlled private limo instead of taking the crowded subway to work, smashed in with the other bleary-eyed commuters. And, of course, Jenny would love for a hot, handsome, sexy guy to look at her the way Ash looked at Callie. If he happened to be ridiculously wealthy, so much the better.

And why not wish for the moon while she was at it?

https://www.facebook.com/Romanceauthorcourtneyhunt/

http://courtney-hunt.com/

www.twitter.com/courtneyhunt71

Rafflecopter Giveaway

The authors will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click on the tour banner at the top of this post to visit the other tour stops and enter for more chances to win.

Carolina Romance Writers Sip & Sign with Christie Craig

I have some exciting news about an exciting event (if you’re local or even semi-local to the greater Charlotte area).

Carolina Romance Writers Sip & Sign is a super fun book signing. Our mission is to bring romance authors and readers together for a couple of hours of fun over good food and fun beverages.

I’ll be at the Carolina Romance Writers Sip & Sign at Texas Land & Cattle, 7779 Lyles Lane, Concord, North Carolina on September 9, 2017 from 5:30 – 7:30. Christie Craig and several other romance authors will be joining me. If you love any genre of romance this is the place for you!

Come by, say hi, grab a drink, and a book or three.

And an awesomesauce bonus for Sweet Somethings fans – THE ONE I’M WITH will be out in print on October 12th, and is currently available for pre-order. But if you’d like to get your hands on a (signed) copy BEFORE October 12th, I will have some on hand at the September 9th Sip & Sign event!

So if you love romance, plan to join us on September 9th! Can’t wait to see you there!