9 tips to survive holiday shopping

Are you a Black Friday shopper, battling the masses to get in on super deals, or do you prefer to purchase holiday gifts from the comfort of home on Cyber Monday? Whatever your preference, this upcoming weekend is one of the busiest times of the year for shoppers.

Did you know this weekend includes Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday? Retailers and merchants focus an enormous amount of time and research to cater to shoppers’ preferences and patterns.  According to Fact Retriever, retailers use satellite images of retail parking lots to predict earnings and rely on psychological triggers such as music, visuals and key words to entice shoppers. Read 38 Fascinating Facts about Holiday Shopping for more details.

Holiday shopping can be stressful. It is time consuming and prompts financial anxiety. There may also be concerns about finding the “perfect” gift, obligatory gift giving and trying not to lose sight of the real meaning of the season. Here are nine tips to help you survive–and maybe even enjoy–holiday shopping.

  1. Make a list and check it twice. Jot ideas for gifts so you don’t wander aimlessly. Having a list can also help you determine your budget.
  2. Decide on a gift-giving theme. Have fun by deciding to purchase gifts according to a theme – books, crazy socks, food & cooking, gardening, music.
  3. Buy in bulk. No need to stress about giving each person an individualized gift. If you find an object you think people would enjoy, buy one for everyone on your list.
  4. Be realistic about your budget. Know what you can afford to spend and plan accordingly. If finances are tight, get creative and give handmade or homemade gifts such as jams/jellies, baked goods or coupons for services such as babysitting, yard work, etc.
  5. Give an “experiential” gift. Give a gift that allows people to enjoy a special experience – cooking classes, travel, skydiving. Even dinner or movie certificates are great!
  6. Give of your time, talent or treasures. You don’t have to buy something to give a meaningful gift. People may be even more appreciative of gifts such as preparing a special meal or recipe, piano lessons, creating a painting or handing down a beloved family heirloom.
  7. Don’t shop when you are tired, hungry or pressed for time. Dealing with long lines, crowds and no parking spots is bad enough, but the experience is even more unpleasant when you’re not at your best. Avoid peak shopping times (such as weekends), fuel up before you go, take your e-reader for long waits in line, leave the kids at home and focus on the spirit behind your gift.
  8. Shop online. Save time and money by shopping online. Be sure to allow sufficient delivery time, especially if you are ordering gifts that need to be shipped.
  9. Have fun! Hand out mini candy canes to children (ask parents first!) and store clerks. Wear colorful holiday clothing. Admire the decorations. Indulge in a cup of hot chocolate and cookies. Get your photo taken with Santa.
How do you survive the holiday shopping challenge? Share your tips and strategies. Happy shopping!

A Veterans Day giveaway in honor of ‘war dogs’

Friday, November 11, is Veterans Day. This national holiday is dedicated to honoring veterans of the armed services (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, National Guard, and Coast Guard) who served to protect our country.

Did you know Veterans Day originated from Armistice Day, a holiday enacted in recognition of WW I soldiers? Click HERE to read more about the history of Veterans Day.

In addition to honoring the men and women who have served, I like to acknowledge the contributions of canine service members. I’m not the only American in awe of “war dogs.”  There are several organizations dedicated to honoring and assisting active and retired military dogs.



The United States War Dogs Association – features war dog history, information about the U.S. War Dogs Memorial, and how to participate with this organization.

Save a Vet – provides adoption and rescue support for military and law enforcement working dogs.

Operation Military Care K9 – collects and distributes care packages to military working dogs and their handlers.

Kevlar for K9s – works to provide bulletproof vests for working canines.



If you would like more stories or information about military working dogs, check out these sites or click HERE for a full listing of military working dog organizations/resources.

Dogs of the Navy SEALs
The Dogs of War
Canines in Combat
10 Things You Might Not Know About Soldier Dogs
Dogs of War: 23 Facts You Never Knew About Military Working Dogs



As an author, I’ve incorporated my passion, respect and enthusiasm for working military dogs into my contemporary romantic suspense fiction. Sergeant Nick Welby and his bomb-sniffing golden lab are leading characters in Men Under Fire, Book 3 in the Grayce Walters series.

This book is one of more than 60 titles featured in the Military Romance Book Giveaway, which includes a Kindle Fire. If you’re a fan of military heroes and heroines, be sure to enter for a chance to win.



In honor of Veterans Day, I’m giving away an ebook copy of Men Under Fire. For a chance to win, simply comment on my Veterans Day Facebook post. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/2fD26DI



Secrets, Palm Trees and Lies on MAUI


Today on the Beach, we are happy to welcome the Bestselling Amazon Author of THE DREAM JUMPER'S PROMISE, Kim Hornsby. Rumor has it, you've written the prequel to the Award-Winning Suspense/Romance about a man who can enter dreams. Tell us more, Kim...



I'm thrilled to release the love story, GIRL OF HIS DREAM, the book that will explain how Jamey and Tina (from the Dream Jumper Series) originally met and why there was a ten year gap in their relationship. These two people have big secrets and they guard them well. Both masters of playing their cards close to their chests, the thirty-two-year old James and the twenty-five-year old Kristina approach each other cautiously when they meet for the first time in Lahaina, Maui, the charming historic town on West Maui where anything can happen and does.
Having lived in Lahaina for 11 years, I wrote this story from the background of a scuba instructor and someone who enjoyed her single girl days on this amazing island. It's a struggle to write about Maui and I even have to visit the island regularly to do research, like below, where I dove Kapalua Bay in 2015.


Here's the premise of my new novel:

James Dunn is a loner, always has been, ever since he discovered at age 8 that he has the gift of hyper-intuition and can slip into other people's dreams. Finding himself on Maui between jobs with the Seattle Police Department, James hires Kristina Greene, a scuba instructor, to certify him as a Deep Diver. Over the 5 day course, things heat up and James breaks down Kristina's hard and fast rule about not dating students. It doesn't take long before the charmingly sexy James and the feisty and resistant Kristina fall into bed together. Driven by her anger towards her parents and the tension of keeping a dark secret, Kristina lets wild abandon take over. More than once James calls Kristina a "tiger" in bed and is happy to match her enthusiasm. (Reader, be warned that they are like any couple at the beginning of a love affair when they can't get enough of each other.) They each have a secret that must be guarded and kept, especially from each other. As they get closer, emotionally, keeping these secrets becomes almost impossible and both are put to the ultimate test until James enters a dream of Kristina's that changes everything.

If you have read the DREAM JUMPER series, you know that this story does not end well for James and Kristina and that is the premise for the next book. Second Warning.


I invite you to pick up a copy of Girl of his Dream, drink a Corona with James, feel the ocean breeze, smell the plumeria flowers and experience the magic of Maui.

The Girl of his Dream
Available Now...
Amazon 
Kobo
Apple
Barnes and Noble
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Kim Hornsby is an Award-Winning, Bestselling Author of The Dream Jumper's Promise, a permanently free book on AMAZON.
www.kimhornsbyauthor.net

Indie Author Day 2016

I am pleased to be part of the special Indie Author Day event being hosted by the King County Library System on Saturday, October 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the KCLS Service Center in Issaquah.

Readers and authors are encouraged to attend the free event, which will include workshops and panel discussions on a variety of topics, including:
  • Pathways to publication
  • Book marketing
  • Industry information and resources
  • Accessing Amazon services
  • Self-e, a platform that connects libraries and indie authors
Several notable industry leaders will be participating in the event: Jon Fine, Robin Cutler, Kiera Parrott, Jim Blanton and L. Penelope.

There will also be 25 authors on hand to share their books and personal experiences: Ksenia Anske, Rachel Barnard, D.K. Cassidy, Kristine Cayne, Jennifer Conner, Deborah O’Neill Cordes, Jacki Delecki, Emily Dietrich, Toddie Downs, Susan Griner, Julianna Hinckley, SaraLynn Hoyt, Claire Luana, Sonya Rhen, Rebecca Ross, Sandy McCormack, Sibelle Stone, Susan Schreyer, Neal Starkman, Marcella Van Oel, Shawna Walls, Lisa Earl Wilson, Allen Wolf, Amy Wolf, Sabrina York.

If you've ever considered writing a book or simply enjoy meeting local authors, don't miss Indie Author Day 2016. This is a great opportunity to mix and mingle with authors from all genres while learning about the exciting innovations in today's publishing industry. Be sure to look for me and say hello! Save

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte

If you follow social media, you may have noticed that Pumpkin Spice Latte has become synonymous with autumn. Starbucks may have started the trend, but several other chains have jumped on the #PSL bandwagon, including McDonalds and Dunkin' Donuts. There are even memes poking fun at the seasonal phenomenon.





While the chain drinks are delicious, they are also expensive and tend to be high in sugar and calories. Here's a quick and easy recipe to whip up your own Pumpkin Spice Latte...and this one has real pumpkin in it!

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot espresso or strong brewed coffee
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Combine the first five ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until hot. You can also use a small saucepan. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is foamy. Pour coffee or espresso in large mug and add the milk mixture. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon.

Click here for a Skinny Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe.

What's your favorite way to enjoy pumpkin? Share your suggestions and recipes with other #PSL fans.

Labor Day Giveaway

Goodbye summer, hello autumn! Labor Day, which was established as a federal holiday in 1894 to honor achievements of American workers, unofficially marks the end of summer and start of fall. One of my favorite fall treats is Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte so I'm celebrating by giving away a $25 Starbucks gift card and To Be Read pile of signed romance novels from different authors.

Visit my Facebook page and comment with what you love most about autumn for a chance to win. One lucky winner will be announced Monday, September 5.

This autumn holds lots of tricks and treats so visit my website, sign up for my newsletter, or connect with me on social media at Facebook or Twitter. Be sure to watch for the upcoming release of A Cantata of Love on audiobook this fall. You can preview the story, narrated by Pearl Hewitt, here.

#amreading #amwriting #amlistening

5 Ways to celebrate Romance Awareness Month, including 5 romantic reads

Did you know August is Romance Awareness Month? I love the idea of "raising awareness" about romance. I don't think people intentionally become lackadaisical about romance, but life gets busy. Between work, family and other obligations, it's easy for romance to get bumped to the bottom of the list. Everyone needs a little romance in their lives. Your marital status doesn't matter. Whether you are single, married or it's complicated, you can celebrate Romance Awareness Month.

If you aren't sure what I mean by romance, let's look at the definition for a moment:


Here are five ways to infuse excitement, glamour, mystery, passion, love and romance in your life. Feel free to share your own ideas by comment on this blog post or visiting on Facebook.

Flirt a little.


Buy something silky, slinky, sensuous or sexy. It could be a new pair of shoes, lounging pajamas or lingerie.


Say I Love You to everyone you love, including your furry friends.


Indulge in a decadent treat, something that will make your palate say "OMG". Luscious chocolates, a gooey dessert, a bottle of wine or a meal at your favorite "special occasion" restaurant.


Curl up with a romance novel.


http://www.ellaquinnauthor.com

http://calliehutton.com

http://www.maureenamiller.com

http://jackidelecki.com/a-cantata-of-love/#.V77_gWCECdQ

http://www.roxannestclaire.com