Things I Collect (Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge)

Everybody has things they collect, and for various reasons. Maybe there’s some sort of sentimental value attached to the things people collect. Or perhaps a specific interest. Or maybe we just think something is neat.

For me, the things I collect are tied to memories or feelings I want to keep close. So what are my collections?

Books

This should come as a no-brainer. Most authors are also avid readers, and I am no different. At various points in my life, I have had to purge my personal bookcase because I’d either outgrown the stories it held or because I was moving and just didn’t have the space for everything. Most of the books that went by the wayside arrived at the local library (and probably their periodic bargain book sales, as paperbacks tend to fair poorly in circulation). But certain books remained.

I have a healthy collection of books about history, for example, particularly about the American Civil War. For much of my teen and adult life, historical fiction filled my bookcase. I have some Dickens, the entire Harry Potter series in hardcover. I also have quite a bit of Tolkien.

As far as authors go, I really only have two whose books I consciously collected and kept. The first is L.M. Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables series and many more delightful books. I discovered her books in fourth grade, thanks to my then-best friend, and from there my collection was born. I’m pretty sure I have every novel she ever wrote and all of the curated short story collections as well.

The second author is John Jakes. I started off with his North & South trilogy, moved on to the Kent Family Chronicles, and then went about acquiring every historical fiction novel he ever published. I understand he has some science fiction(?) books written under a different pen name, but those I haven’t read.

Cookbooks

I love to cook and bake, so of course it’s no suprise that I have a collection of cookbooks. I think at one point early in my marriage, I had a total of like twenty different cookbooks. Possibly more. I got rid of a lot of them when we moved from New York to North Carolina, and then several more when we finally unpacked at our forever home. I think I’m down to about ten, now, but I’ve also acquired a few more since we moved south. So I might be creeping back up toward twenty.

Christmas Decorations

I love Christmas; it’s my favorite holiday. As with other things, I’ve had to purge a lot of decorations over the past few years as we made our move south. But I love getting new Christmas decorations (teachers get a lot of that sort of thing as gifts from students) and figuring out where to put everything when the time comes.

I have a couple themes when it comes to Christmas decorations. Snowmen, somehow, became a major theme on accident. We have a couple different iterations of the Nativity. The only ornaments I really collect have been the Hallmark Gone With the Wind movie collection (yes, I know), though I haven’t gotten any new ones in several years as they’ve started sort of repeating. My mom started the collection for me back in 1997, and I think I have about 27 of them.

INteresting Scarves

About three years into my teaching career, I got really into scarves as a fashion statement. Mostly because I was cold all the time in the winter. I have scarves of all materials, colors, and designs, though admittedly I haven’t worn many of them since moving to North Carolina. (Winters here are a bit milder.) I probably should clean some of them out, but I like knowing they’re hanging, all organized, in my closet.

Foreign Currency

The most interesting thing I collect may be foreign currency. The collection wasn’t even mine to begin with. My dad started collecting foreign currency when he was in the Air Force and deployed to different countries around the world. He kept them in an old cigar box that, I assume, he acquired during a deployment to Panama in the early 1980s (that’s unverified).

At some point when I was in middle or high school, he passed the collection on to me. I have added to it over the years. Some items came from more of his deployments. Other things came from friends who travelled out of the country. For example, a high school friend brought me a 1000 lira note from her family’s trip to Italy when we were in 10th grade, just prior to Italy adopting the Euro. One of my dad’s coworkers gave him a Polish banknote from the Cold War era, which he passed along to me. My aunt and uncle gave me a banknote from Nepal after one of their missionary trips. I received coins from a Swedish penpal when I was in 6th grade.

Some of the currency is probably valuable, such as the pristine Canadian two-dollar note (which they don’t make anymore as it gave way to the “toonie”). The Polish Cold War-era note, also, is obviously out of circulation, as is the 1000 lira. I also have some examples of American currency, like a $1 silver certificate, the Sacagewea $1 gold coin, and a couple of $2 bills. And some Euros to round it all out.

Right now, the collection is still in the cigar box. I plan to put everything into a currency collector binder to keep everything safe and neat. It just hasn’t happened yet.

What do you like to collect?

The Gumbeaux Sistahs (Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway)

THE GUMBEAUX SISTAHS

by Jax Frey

Genre: Fiction Humor/Women’s Lit

Book Blurb

Five Southern women wage a hilarious war against the ageism problems of one of their deep-in-trouble sisters using their improbable friendships, evil-genius schemes, oh-so-numerous cocktails, and a shared passion for good gumbo.

When southern artist, Judith Lafferty, loses her long-time, prestigious museum job to a much younger man, she finds herself devastated, alone in her sixties, and on the brink of financial disaster. Enter the incomparable Gumbeaux Sistahs, who deliver day-old coffee to her front door as a ploy, then go on to kidnap her, feed her excellent gumbo, and come up with outrageous solutions to her problems. Their motives are just good excuses to drink wine, have a great time, argue over whose mother makes the best gumbo, and, most of all, help a sister out. Ageism, dangerous boyfriends, deep loneliness, and any other challenges that can face the over fifty crowd don’t stand a chance against these five resourceful ladies. The Gumbeaux Sistahs is a heart-warming, smart story of friendship and unexpected shenanigans that you do not want to miss.

Read an Excerpt

At 3 p.m., she found herself in the living room, feet-up on the coffee table, sweaty, dirty and exhausted. Then the doorbell rang. In her mind she could hear her kids saying to her, “Don’t kill whoever it is, Mom, it’s probably just the mail lady delivering the mail as she does every day. You need the mail, Mom. Please don’t hurt the nice lady.”

She chuckled in spite of herself, and went to greet the mail lady, who had seen Judith looking this bad a time or two before from doing chores around the house. So Judith was not worried about her appearance when she swung open the front door. Before she could get it completely open, a hand carrying a coffee cup appeared around the corner, and came dangerously close to poking her in the eye.

“Hello, dear,” came a cheerful voice from the other side of the door. “You forgot your coffee yesterday, so we decided to bring it to you.”

Judith peered around the coffee cup and the door, and was completely shocked to find the four women from the coffee house yesterday, standing on her front steps. Stunned, she sputtered, “What the . . . ?”

“Special delivery!” yelled Lola, with a huge grin on her freckled face.

“You followed me home?” said a stunned Judith, in shock and embarrassment over her appearance. She did not want to be rude, but this was above and beyond weird. She thought, “Have they been stalking me? That’s so creepy!” She deeply regretted opening the door.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Dawn sarcastically, checking her phone as she talked. “Nobody has time for stalking anymore. Now we just follow people around. That’s different, right?”

“What?” thought Judith. She found herself wondering who the heck these women really were. They looked harmless enough, but she was suddenly filled with doubt, and a little bit of fear.

Helen gave Dawn an exasperated look and explained, “Don’t mind her, Judith. She’s teasing. We didn’t follow you. We know where you live. Lola lives right across the street, remember?”

Lola added with a smirk, “Don’t tell me you forgot that already.”

“No, I didn’t — sorry.” Judith took hold of the cup, and was surprised to find that it was cold and kind of used-looking. A thought occurred to her and she asked, astonished, “Wait — is this actually the same coffee from yesterday?”

“Yes, dear,” said Bea, smiling brightly, “We took good care of it for you.”

Author Jax Frey will award a randomly drawn winner a $25 Amazon/BN GC and will award a second randomly drawn winner a print copy of the book (US only). Click to enter the Rafflecopter contest!

Meet Jax Frey

Born in New Orleans, Jax Frey came into this world, whooping and hollering, with a sense of love and celebration of Louisiana culture, food, family and fun.  Translating that celebration into her writing and onto canvas is her true calling.  Her colorful art depicts everything-Louisiana from her dancing Gumbeaux Sistahs paintings to her popular line of original Mini paintings.  Because over 25,000 of the mini paintings have been created and sold into art collections worldwide, Jax holds a world’s record for The Most Original Acrylic Paintings on Canvas by One Artist.

Jax is also the co-founder of the Women of Infinite Possibilities, an empowering women’s organization started in Covington, LA, where Jax lives today with her loveable, tornado-of-a-pug named Lucy. The Gumbeaux Sistahs is her debut novel.

Email:  jaxfreyart@gmail.com

For more information please visit – www.gumbeauxsistahs.com

FB and Instagram – Gumbeaux Sistahs

https://www.facebook.com/jax.frey.3

Jax’s art can be seen at:  www.artbyjax.com

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!

Ready for a Taste of the Newest Sweet Something?

THE ONE I’M WITH comes out this Wednesday, and I don’t know about all of you, but I’m excited. Remember that there’s a Rafflecopter Release Day Giveaway going on right now, and you can preorder your Kindle copy right this very second.

But you don’t have to wait until Wednesday to get a glimpse….

Chapter 1: Girls’ Night Out

Music blares from the Bluetooth speaker on my ddress-186249_1280resser, and I sing along at the top of my lungs as I buzz between my bedroom and the adjoining bathroom. Saturday’s long-standing girls’ night out tradition dates back to when my three best friends and I moved to Asheville, North Carolina, after our college graduation. This week’s get-together couldn’t come soon enough. Three spring redecorating jobs have kept me swamped for the past month and a half, and today I worked later than usual to wrap up a few odds and ends for my clients.

My gaze falls on the bedside clock. I slow my steps with a grimace. My ride should be here in ten minutes or so, and I still haven’t decided on shoes or jewelry to go along with the black burnout leggings and clingy thigh-length red tunic dress I’ve chosen for tonight. Normally I’d be waiting patiently on my front porch by now. But a last minute phone call right after dinner pushed the start of my night-out preparations back almost a half-hour.

Running my fingers lightly through my curly pixie cut, I duck into my closet and grab two pairs of shoes. I haven’t had a chance to wear the red heels yet, but the knee-high black riding boots would be a more sensible choice. Parking near Pack Square tends to be limited, especially on the weekend, and the boots will be more comfortable if we have to walk more than two blocks to the bar.

I put on one of each shoe and turn to the cheval mirror in the corner. Sexy sometimes trumps comfort, even if it means blisters the next morning. Hands on my hips, I lift my right foot up so I can only see the red shoe on my left. My eyes narrow, and then I switch feet. I alternate my view of the shoes a couple more times, no closer to a decision.

A phone call interrupts the music playing on my cell phone. I hobble over to my dresser and check the caller ID. My older sister, Beth.

Figures she’d call just as I’m about to head out the door.

My hand hovers over the phone. My sister calls me once or twice a month, sometimes more if I haven’t been diligent about keeping in touch. But tonight, given how crazy my week has been and how much I just want to relax with my friends and a cold beer, I don’t feel like talking to her. Pursing my lips, I press the button on the side of my phone and send Beth to voicemail. There will be time enough tomorrow to listen to her well-intentioned lecture on how it’s okay to stay home once in a while, that it’s time for me to focus as much on the direction of my personal life as I have my professional life.

Which is sister-speak for quit with the casual dating and commit to somebody already.

Easy for her to say. She married her college sweetheart, and two seconds after landing her dream job at a Manhattan talent agency, she popped out a kid who’s about as perfect as they come. Everyone expected me to follow suit.

Including myself.

But then life happened, and all my expectations evaporated.

Shaking my head, I banish those thoughts. Life is great. I like my life.

The doorbell rings, jolting me out of the morose track my mind almost took.

“Marissa!” a familiar voice shouts from my front hall.

To find out who’s at Marissa’s door, preview all of Chapter 1 here.

Official Release Date – THE ONE I’M WITH (Sweet Somethings Book 3)

Now that all the official things are official, I can announce that you only have to wait one more month for the next installment in the Sweet Somethings Series.

Preorder info is still forthcoming, as are announcements about Release Day activities and so on. Be sure to stay tuned to my socials (Facebook, TwitterGoogle+, Pinterest, YouTube) and join my email newsletter to stay up to date on the latest news.

In the meantime…

The One I’m With (Sweet Somethings #3)

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

Interior designer Marissa O’Brien has sworn off long-term relationships, instead protecting herself from a broken heart by following a specific set of rules when it comes to her many flirtations and first dates. She’s content to just have fun in the world of romance, but all her rules fly out the window when she grabs the attention of a sexy, international stranger during her weekly Girls’ Night Out.

Josh Mattingly has spent the last two years trying to turn over a new leaf, focusing on his role in the family corporation and erasing his womanizing reputation. In Asheville, North Carolina, on business, the last thing he’d planned on was getting involved with a local girl. But one encounter with Marissa has him hooked. He soon falls hard for the designer, and now he’s terrified to reveal his romantic past for fear she’ll bolt.

Marissa recognizes a playboy when she sees one and tries to keep her attraction to Josh under wraps–until they share a passionate kiss that leaves both of them singed. Still, she knows their love affair has an expiration date, and everything is destined to end once Josh finishes his business in Asheville. Now, along with showing his family that he’s left his old habits behind, Josh has a new challenge–proving to Marissa that she can trust him with her heart.

Coming October 12, 2016 From

Soul Mate Publishing