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It’s been a stormy December for a lot of the country. Here in California, we welcome the rain and snow in the mountains. Hubby and I returned from Christmas shopping one day last week to this amazing sight.

Here’s a really embarrassing video of me geeking out over the clouds. Good grief. Let’s keep this between us. 😉


Book “Ghosts” of Holidays Past

Insider note about MONTANA SECRET SANTA: I love a good “meet cute” and I had a lot of fun writing the opening scene for this book: stilettos on ice, three dogs with a novice handler, and cocoa from Copper Mountain Chocolate Company.

But, frankly, I never gave the concept of “meet cute” any thought until I watched “The Holiday” with Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and Jack Black. The Hollywood octogenarian played by Eli Wallach gave such a great explanation about this tried and true movie device that I, of course, had to give it a try myself. 😉

And, for the record, my other favorite part of that movie was Jude Law showing up tipsy!!! Be still my heart.

Here’s my “Meet Cute” introducing Krista, Jonah and his parents’ three dogs. The rest, as they say, was history:

Montana Secret Santa © All Rights Reserved

       Grabbing the edge of the door with her free hand, she hurried outside. The cold hit like a full-on blast from a high power fire hose. Her stride required mincing steps to keep her thighs together. The last thing she needed was frostbite on her privates. Bad enough a former romantic interest had accused her of “freezing him out of the pleasure zone”.
       Who says things like that? Pleasure zone. Bah—
       The humbug required to finish the thought disappeared the instant a knee-high dog shot, headfirst, between her legs. A nearly invisible tether attached to a harness hidden beneath the animal’s stylish red and black plaid fleece overcoat snapped taut, sending Krista’s skirt to mid-thigh. She squeezed her legs tight in self-defense.
       Wobbling like a tightrope walker, she'd nearly recovered her balance when a shrill zipping sound of the dog's coated wire tether being recalled—too late, in her opinion—yanked the animal—now square to Krista’s body--sideways against her shins.
       Things went downhill pretty fast after that. Although every action and reaction felt like slow motion from Krista’s perspective, the entire debacle probably took seconds.
       "Wait. No. Oh, crap." The last came out on a protracted cry as her skinny pumps shifted sideways on a patch of black ice.
       Her wonderful, badly needed insulated cup of Sage’s divine cocoa went flying. Her small, smart patent leather shoulder bag shot upward to conk Krista on the chin, which caused her to windmill backwards straight into the open arms of the person reeling in their stupid dog.
       Since Krista closed her eyes, she couldn't say for sure what happened next, but it involved ear-piercing barks, grunts and groans, and several colorful curses, which might have come from her. Luckily, the person in meager control of the dog’s leash turned out to be a man, large enough and strong enough to catch her mid-fall. She recognized his gender by his deep voice and the rock solid arm that locked around her chest as they went down. The thick padding of his winter jacket--along with a nicely built torso—cushioned her impact when they hit the sidewalk. The angle of their repose told her they'd taken another casualty with them.
       She blinked as the pile beneath them morphed into a small golden moose with floppy ears, a big black nose, and a tongue about a mile long. Too hairy for a Great Dane. The beast yanked her rescuer's arm--the one that had been around her chest--out and back like a spastic puppeteer when it caught a whiff of her warm cocoa, spreading like a blood stain across the thin layer of ice and snow.
       The man ungallantly shoved Krista aside so he could scramble to his knees and do a hand-over-hand motion to reel in the giant dog. "River Jack, no. Cocoa is not on your diet, dude. Mom said dogs are never supposed to eat chocolate."
       River Jack? Odd name. She might have been intrigued if she weren’t busy taking stock of her situation.
       She pulled down her skirt the best she could.
       "It's mostly milk. And Sage's chocolate is the best. It won't kill him. Them," she corrected, noticing the beagle and a puffy hairball with a curly tail had joined River Jack at the quickly freezing trough of goodness.
       "Bear,” the guy cried, fumbling with the rat’s nest of leads in his hands. “Not you, too.”
       “Bear? River Jack? What’s with the strange names?” she muttered, mostly to herself.
       The man found the right leash and tugged the largest beast away from the spill.
       “Jack is my parents’ recent rescue dog adoptee. He was a lonely hearts dog.”
       The dog in question lumbered toward them with a friendly manner, big, pink tongue still licking its chops.

       “’Lonely hearts.’ I don’t know what that is.”
The guy opened his arms, which barely fit around the animal’s girth, and buried his face in the fluffy blond coat. “Mom said that’s what the staff calls animals that have been at the shelter for months, even years."
       Krista stared, transfixed by the sweet bond evident between man and dog. An emotion she couldn’t quite name—yearning? wistfulness?—climbed up her throat making speech impossible.
       The man looked her way, his smile bemused. "I suck at dog-sitting."

If you haven’t read MONTANA SECRET SANTA, here’s your chance. Don’t forget: your kind review is a great way to play not-so-secret-Santa to an author. 😉


Have you grabbed your copy of HOLIDAY HEROES? I just finished reading two of the stories and they both really touched my heart. Jean Brashear, I loved how you handled your secret child story. What a beautiful ending! And Barbara McMahon’s marriage-in-jeopardy is so real and honest. I love how difficult it can be for two people in love to find a middle ground. Awesome stories, ladies!!!

Purchase HOLIDAY HEROES now!
Kindle | Nook | Kobo | Apple Books

DON’T FORGET: This collection will only be available until January 15th.

Last week’s Q&A was: A friend and I joke about this debate every year, so please help settle the question: Is DIE HARD a “Christmas” movie—Yes or No? 😉

I got a lot of laughs from some of your answers. The resounding answer in this poll was: No. But I must acknowledge those true believers who hold: “It’s not Christmas until you see Hans Gruber fall from Nakatomi tower.” 😉

My two randomly selected winners this week are:

Bonnie Karoly – NO
Leanne Hansard – YES

(Bonnie and Leanne congrats. Please email me your pick of either a $5 Starbucks or a $5 Amazon gift card.)


This week’s Q&A: Are you traveling this holiday season: Y or N?

If your answer is yes, I wish you safe travels. We have a day-trip/family adventure planned that I look forward to sharing with you, but other than that we will be home for the holidays.

(Two winners will be chosen by random drawing to receive either a $5 Starbucks gift card or a $5 Amazon gift card. Please reply the usual ways: email or on my DebraSalonenAuthor Facebook page.)

Happy reading, wrapping and resting!


Next week: Ghosts from Holiday Books Past, Part 3, and my new favorite, super simple holiday recipe.



Copyright © 2019 Debra Salonen