July 16, 2018

Book Spotlight: the RISE UP Anthology (Volume I)

I’m very happy to be a part of promoting the Rise Up Anthology, a collection of amazing stories on sale for just $3.99 in support of a wonderful woman who is facing a tough battle. Please read on for more details, and be sure to one-click your copy today!

“We all know how fragile life is, especially when faced with a life threatening illness.”

~Nic, Flirty and Dirty Book Blog

Fiction introduced us. Reality binds us together.

Stephanie Thomas—co-founder of The Indie Bookshelf—has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma. Stephanie isn’t only a blogger; she’s a loving wife, and mother to three young boys.

In the independent author community, we have an extraordinary network of fellow authors, and readers. A special group of people who bridge this gap—helping authors connect with readers—is book bloggers. These men and women dedicate hours upon hours to reading and reviewing our works, and spreading the word to help us reach new readers.

Now, one of these women needs our help.

100% of the proceeds of the Rise Up anthology (volumes one and two) will go directly to Stephanie and her family to help them on this unexpected leg of their journey together.

Inside the pages of this collection, you’ll find amazing works of fiction. But please remember the reality, and help support Stephanie and her family.

Included in Volume One of this collection are the following novels:

What Happens Tomorrow ~ Elle Michaels

Insipid ~ Christine Brae

Bouquet Toss ~ Melissa Brown

Can’t Go Home ~ Angelisa Stone

Point of Submission ~ Remy Landon

Breakaway ~ Lindsay Paige and Mary Smith

A Love by Any Measure ~ Killian McRae

Discovering Lucy ~ Laura Dunaway

Something’s Come Up ~ Andrea Randall and Michelle Pace

By A Thread ~ RL Griffin

Honest Love ~ CM Hutton

Serendipity ~ Stacey Bentley

Haven from the Storm ~ Sarah Dosher

Damaged ~ Nina D’Angelo


12 Blogs of Christmas: Songs of the Season Re-Recorded

Is there anything more identifiable than the strains of the first Christmas carol on the radio to signal the start of the holiday season? Sure, they may drive us nuts by the time Christmas actually rolls around, but there’s no denying that first nostalgic nudge we experience when we hear our favorite holiday songs every year.

As a participant in the 12 Blogs of Christmas, it’s my pleasure to share with you the favorite holiday tunes of eleven of my favorite people (as well as my own). At first I thought that identifying my favorite Christmas carol would be too difficult. Fortunately, having a chance to read through everyone else’s selections helped me narrow it down!

Kicking off this jingle-jangling post is Erica Lucke Dean, blogger, survivor of the Bikini Wax Disaster, and author of To Katie With Love–coming soon from Red Adept Publishing. You’ll find my response to Erica’s Christmas Memories blog here, complete with a childhood Christmas photo. Erica had this to share for my post:

“My mom used to play the Elvis Christmas album over and over again throughout the entire Christmas season. Hers had a skip in the middle of one song, and all these years later, I still sing that song with the skip in it. ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’ is the one song on that album that still resonates with me. I love the old Elvis version, but I’m becoming a fan of the brand new Michael Buble version as well.”

Thanks for bringing back the memory of my mom’s record of the Ray Conniff Singers, complete with a skip in the middle of “Jingle Bells,” Erica!

Christmas Red Ribbon

Next on my list is the author of Ragtown, Kelly Stone Gamble, whose Hoover Dam stories evoke great empathy and appreciation for America’s pioneers. When asked about her favorite holiday tune, Kelly said:

“Kelly Gamble loves old rock and roll, and her favorite Christmas song is one that not many have ever heard. ‘I Believe in Santa Claus’ performed by REO Speedwagon always makes me smile, because I do believe that anything is possible.”

You’re right, Kelly…I didn’t know that one, so thanks for alerting me to another great holiday tune! To find out what my favorite Christmas book is, check out Kelly’s blog here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

Sharing a love for the classics is fellow Thespian-turned-writer, Karen DeLabar. She had this to share regarding her favorite Christmas song:

“I’m an old fashioned girl, always have been, always will be. My absolute favorite Christmas song is none other than Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’. His dreamy baritone voice wraps around me like a warm, fuzzy blanket on a cold day. The song is poignant, yet hopeful, and if the mood is right will inspire a tear or two to roll down my cheek.”

You’re spot-on, Karen! Find out if my “classic sensibilities” extend to my favorite Christmas movie, which appears in Karen’s 12 Blogs of Christmas post here.

As an added mention in this year’s post, we all wanted to bring attention to Toxic Shock Syndrome, an illness that kills 8 out of 10 people. Karen happens to be one of those who beat the odds! You can learn more about her story here. As a friend following her progress, I can only say she is one of the most positive and courageous people I’ve ever known. She and her family have experienced tremendous physical and financial struggles through this ordeal, and we would love to help support them. If you’d like to help out, you can do so by clicking this button:

Christmas Red Ribbon

My pal D.C. McMillen, author of the Nauti-Lust series, The Rusty Nail and A Decent December, and all-around fun lady, knows what she likes when it comes to Christmas music. Check out her thoughts on “Santa Baby,” a great song choice:

“It confounds me that people waste time wishing for a snow (who the frack wants their streets blanketed in wet, dirty, slippery, slush while they drive to the mall?) or two front teeth (way to set your sights high, kid) when they could be wishing for real stuff? If you ask me, Joan Javits was in the true spirit of Christmas when she wrote ‘Santa Baby.’ After all, isn’t this supposed to be the season of miracles and giving? You have absolutely no better chance of getting the deed to that platinum mine at any other time of year than you do right now. So go on and sip your hot toddy until your insides are warm and your mind is fuzzy, listen to this sexy, sultry song, and think about what it would be like if Santa actually brought you everything you ever wanted for Christmas. Oh, and make sure to envision Santa Claus as the sexiest beast you have ever seen in a red suit. My Santa looks a lot like Jason Statham, and sometimes Robert Downey Jr.

Now for a little Christmas trivia material. ‘Santa Baby’ was originally written in 1953 by a senator’s daughter but not officially recorded until 1957. Eartha Kitts was the first doll to record this smoking hot Christmas song and it has since been covered by everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna to Onyx. That’s right – Onyx.”

I stopped by D.C.’s blog today to share my favorite Christmas drink. I hope you’ll check it out here!

Christmas Red Ribbon

This wouldn’t be a well-rounded post without pointing out the comedic side of holiday music. From Adam Sandler’s famous Hanukkah song to the “Twelve Pains of Christmas,” spoofs abound. One of the more original humorous songs was submitted to me by the talented high fantasy writer, Ciara Ballintyne:

“My favourite Christmas Song is ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ by Frank Kelly. This is NOT your ordinary Twelve Days of Christmas Song and if you haven’t heard it I strongly recommend you find it!”

Well, I just HAD to find this song after Ciara’s recommendation. Check it out if this is new to you…I assure you, it’ll get you laughing! For a glimpse at my holiday decorations, check out Ciara’s post here. You can also pick up a great story for the fantasy fans on your list while on her site.

Christmas Red Ribbon

Next on my “hit parade” is Maureen Hoverdale, a writer and reviewer whose dedication to indie authors warms my heart. I was thrilled when Maureen (a.k.a. @zencherry) told me she was participating in the 12 Blogs of Christmas, and her Christmas song story made me appreciate her all the more!

“Music has always been a part of my life, my mother being a singer back in the day. We’d gather around the piano and if we didn’t harmonize properly, we’d go back and try it again. This was just how things were.

My first-ever stage appearance was a duet with my friend, Sheila, in kindergarten. I was SURE that we were going to rock the house down, and looked at my sparkly costume hanging in the closet every free minute. We practiced ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ over and over again and listened to little Michael Jackson until we were sure we had it right. Jackson 5 was jive, y’all. You just don’t know how much we dug their spangly awesome. Of course, when mom found out we had the Jackson 5 rendition in mind, things changed…but I did get in a ‘Whoa Yeah!’ while I was up there.

Merry Christmas, Raine!”

Merry Christmas, Maureen, and thanks so much for sharing! I gave Maureen some insights on Christmas wardrobe on her blog, if you’d like to check those out here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

When I received the wonderful writer and blogger, Marie Patchen’s, contribution to my favorite Christmas song list, I was so excited! I’ll bet this album brings back memories for most everyone:

“If I were exiled to an island full of unwanted toys, and only allowed to take one Christmas album with me, I’d take ‘A Chipmunk Christmas’ by none other than Alvin and the Chipmunks. And what I mean by that is the iconic 1983 version, which tells the heartwarming tale of how Alvin gave away his prized harmonica to a very sick little boy just before Christmas. This is an album for putting up decorations to, opening presents to, or drinking hot cocoa to while you address envelopes for Christmas cards, all of which I have happily done. Why yes, as a matter of fact it does make me feel like I’m eight years old again. That is why I love it so much!”

I couldn’t agree more, Marie! Thanks for that trip down Memory Lane. I was further able to revisit my childhood by sharing my favorite Christmas cartoon on Marie’s blog here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

Natalie Kenney, a writer I envy for her baking skills alone, is a fan of ‘Old City Bar’ by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This song was always big in my mom’s house, so it was fun to take a trip down memory lane! While I couldn’t possibly match Natalie’s baking skills, I did share my favorite Christmas cookie recipe with her on her blog today, found here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

Melody-Ann Kauffman is a kindred spirit…a fellow Floridian, writer, blogger, mother and all-around hard worker. I wasn’t surprised to find that her holiday music tastes suit her perfectly!

“My favorite Christmas music is old school Jazz – Louis Armstrong (Satchmo), Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald… this type of music. When my husband and I got married in December, we had a 30 foot Christmas tree and this was the music that we had played. Since that time, the day after Thanksgiving, the tree goes up and the jazz begins to play. We keep that music playing pretty much until after the New Year. Our kids love it. For us it’s a reminder of the simple joys in life.”

Thanks, Melody-Ann. Your comments put me in the mood to listen to that timeless crooner, Frank Sinatra. His upbeat version of ‘Let it Snow’ always brings a smile to my day! And speaking of things that make you smile, why don’t you pop over to Melody-Ann’s blog here featuring favorite Christmas toys?

Christmas Red Ribbon

We somehow managed to wrangle one guy into this wacky bunch of bloggers. Author of Sandcastle and Other Stories as well as a reader and reviewer for www.inclassicstyle.com and fellow animal lover, Justin Bogdanovitch, decided that being one man among so many lovely ladies could never be a bad thing, and he shared this with me regarding his favorite holiday song:

“I love Christmas tunes. I tend to leave them on my random playlists so they pop up all year long. I live in the town Burl Ives retired in and his top holiday single, ‘Have A Holly Jolly Christmas,’ is a constant twinkle here. My favorite holiday single, ‘River,’ sung by Aimee Mann, is in a contemplative style. She makes me meditate about what Christmas means. The Joni Mitchell lyrics are stirring and filled with yearning. Aimee Mann has a deep love of Christmas. She is putting on her 6th Annual Aimee Mann Christmas Show so look for concert dates if she comes close. Aimee Mann’s complete Christmas album is called One More Drifter In The Snow and features a wry and rousing rendition of ‘You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch.’ This album is great, but you can only find ‘River’ on an old Starbucks compilation of Christmas tunes called: Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Look at Amazon for used copies!”

An excellent tip, Justin! Gosh, Ms. Mann has an awesome voice. You had me at “rousing rendition of ‘You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch.’” Too fun! For even more fun, check out Justin’s post featuring the 12 Faux Pas of Christmas here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

The last, but certainly not the least, of our Christmas song contributions comes from Amberr Meadows, a wonderful writer hailing from my former stomping grounds of Atlanta, Georgia. I think Amberr’s frank and good-humored sentiments most closely reflect that of most of us:

“I love Christmas Music, even though I can only stand the cheesy classics for a short time. I can only listen to Jingle Bell Rock so many times before I feel like vomiting or pulling my hair out, and if I do any sort of shopping, I’m completely unable to avoid being inundated by corny, cheery Christmas songs designed to distract me from thinking of the painful amounts of money I’m preparing to spend.

There is one song, however, that I don’t tire of, because it invokes the warm feelings of tradition, and completely embodies the spirit of Christmas. If you haven’t heard Carol of the Bells, you’re in for a treat. Enjoy the clip, and Merry Christmas!”

This is a great choice, Amberr! This song is one that really whets the appetite for the holiday season, isn’t it? If you really want to stimulate your appetite, you’ll check out Amberr’s blog here featuring favorite holiday foods, complete with recipes.

Christmas Red Ribbon

So, now we’ve reached number twelve on the list…me! After reading about and listening to everyone else’s choices, I asked myself whether my favorite Christmas tune falls in line with the classic, the nostalgic, the humorous, the rock-n-roll or the jazzy. In the end, it was a combination of all of the above. My favorite Christmas song is…drum roll please…

Yep! Bob Seger’s “The Little Drummer Boy.” I love the story behind the song, as well as the message that it isn’t about the value of a gift, it’s about the thought and heart behind it. Add in Seger’s raspy, rockin’ groove, and you’ve got a hit!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this segment of the 12 Blogs of Christmas. Please stop by and check out the companion blogs of all of these wonderful folks…and let me know what song is YOUR favorite!

Raine Gives Back: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

It’s so hard to believe that 2011 will be rolling to a close in just a few days. This has been a whirlwind year with so many wonderful experiences, and I can’t wait to see what 2012 will bring! For me, personally, these are the top five highlights from 2011:

5. Finally getting to see an Atlanta Braves spring training game at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports
4. Coordinating my 100th wedding and publishing a nonfiction book for wedding vendors
3. Buying a new house and moving into it
2. My daughter’s graduation from VPK and her first day of Kindergarten
1. Publication of the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy

There are other highlights, of course, not the least of which is joining Twitter and Triberr and connecting with so many awesome people. In the new year, I’m inviting some of the amazing writers I’ve connected with to participate in my blog, so be on the lookout for interviews and guest posts to come. I’m very grateful to everyone who invited me to participate on their blogs this year and look forward to returning the nod!

St Jude Childrens Research Hospital Lastly, a 2011 accomplishment that has a lot of meaning to me is the establishment of the Raine Gives Back initiative. I’ve donated 5% of my net earnings from book sales each month to a different cause, beginning in October. The very worthy cause receiving a donation in December is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a suggestion offered to me by author Sara Reine. My donation will be made in Sara’s name once December’s sales numbers are finalized.

Do you have a cause that you feel is worthy of a donation from Raine Gives Back? If so, please comment and tell me more. I’m looking forward to contributing to many great causes in the new year, and, as always, I thank you for your support!

First Time in Paperback! The Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy

I’m pretty sure that every author longs for the day when they get to hold their own books in their hands. Most of us grew up as avid readers, scouring bookstores and libraries to enjoy books written by others. That love of the written word is what drives most of us to pen our own works. So the “Wow–I’m an author!” moment really clicks when you have your own book in-hand.

Because I self-published, my books were first released in electronic format. I can’t say that I intended to format them for paperback publication when I started this writing journey, but when the eBooks started selling well and my fans asked when the paperbacks would be available so they could own those, too, I consulted with my business manager (aka, The Hubby). And we decided to go for it.

Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy Paperback

I had A Moment just holding these.

I’m deliriously excited to announce that the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy is now available on Amazon.com and CreateSpace.com in paperback format! Look–aren’t they beautiful??

Holding the books in my hands was a moment to remember. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire day. But I’ll confess that when I saw how big they were, I fretted about it. “They’re bigger than typical paperbacks,” I pointed out to hubby.

“That’s because they’re trade novels, not standard paperbacks,” he said. “They’re kind of a cross between hardcovers and paperbacks. If you made them any smaller, the page count would increase and they’d have to be priced much higher. You don’t want to do that to your readers.”

Did I mention that he’s a GREAT business manager?

What excites me the most about the launch of the paperback versions of the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy is that this provides another revenue stream to contribute to my Raine Gives Back campaign. In October, I donated 5% of my book sales earnings to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thanks to your helpful suggestions, I’ve now lined up several causes to be the recipients of the Raine Gives Back funds in coming months.

Ciara Ballintyne, a wonderful writer and great all-around person, suggested that I donate to an organization that specializes in working with people in need of organ transplants. At Ciara’s great suggestion, my husband and I identified HelpHopeLive.org (www.helphopelive.org), formerly the National Transplant Assistance Fund. On behalf of Ciara and her family, we will donate 5% of November’s book sales to this amazing, life-saving cause. Thanks, Ciara!

This is such an exciting time. I never thought that there could be a greater feeling than holding my printed books in-hand…but there is no denying that the feeling was heightened by knowing that the books will help aid a good cause, too. So, I’ll once again thank my readers for your support. None of this would be possible without you!

Introducing: Raine Gives Back

Giving back. It’s something that was impressed upon me from an early age. I was a Girl Scout (shocking, I know) and remember working at a food pantry with my troop, serving food to kids my age. One of my college professors ran a homeless shelter and told us heartbreaking stories about the people he met every day. And when I was twenty-two, I went to work for a nonprofit organization serving underprivileged youth living in downtown Atlanta.

The idea of giving back stays with me still. While I know there are ways to contribute to causes without donating money, I know firsthand how much most nonprofit organizations rely on donations to help those they serve. Unfortunately, up until I started selling my books as a second job three months ago, I didn’t have a single bit of expendable income.

However, thanks to my amazing readers, sales of the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy have been good enough since their publication three months ago that I can now fulfill my wish to give back. When I mentioned this desire to my husband, I was worried he would flinch over the expense. Let’s be honest…even with the books selling, we’re not rolling in the money after only three months, and we have bills out the wazoo just like most people.

His response? “Sounds great! How about we donate 5% of the monthly earnings on the books? In fact…why don’t we donate to a different cause every month?”

Have I ever mentioned how much I love this man?

Thus, the idea of Raine Gives Back was born. From here on out, I’ll be donating 5% of each month’s book earnings to a great cause. To me, October’s donation was a no-brainer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There can’t be many people out there whose lives are untouched by this disease.

For me, this cause hit home back in July when I received a call from a friend of mine (who I’ll call Sally) saying that she received a diagnosis of advanced breast cancer. The news swept my feet out from under me. As I listened to her emotional story and ached for her, I vowed that as soon as I could afford to, I was going to make a donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® in honor of Sally’s fight.

And now, three months later, that’s just what I’m going to do. Thanks so much to all of you for helping me accomplish this personal goal! If you’d like to join me in donating to this wonderful cause, please visit http://ww5.komen.org/.

What I’d like from you, my readers, is your suggestions on what cause Raine Gives Back should donate 5% of all book earnings to in November. If you prefer to e-mail me your reasons, feel free to use the contact form and I’ll be happy to consider it. If your particular suggestion is chosen, I’ll make every effort to make the donation in your name if the cause allows it.

I’m very excited about this undertaking, and I thank you all in advance for joining me and my family in making a difference!