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Guest blogger: Anne Gracie

23 December 2012

AnneGracie4aHi all, Anne Gracie here in Melbourne, where it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. In fact I cooked my first Christmas dinner last weekend—I tend to have a few Christmas dinners in the lead-up to The Real Thing, mainly because I have a few different ‘families’ that I want to do something special with, but I don’t want to rush from place to place on the actual day.

Like most people, I have a long list of things to be done by Christmas, but in the interests of not getting stressed (stress is bad for you, I read it somewhere) I’m rewarding myself each time something major is ticked off, by reading for an hour … or two. Seriously, I’m limiting myself. Really, I am! Or I will from now on.

I lost a whole day yesterday because I started reading Juliet Marillier’s Heart’s Blood and then—with no willpower at all!—went straight onto her latest book, Shadowfell. It really wasn’t my fault. Juliet Marillier writes fantastic stories set in ancient Ireland. They’re exciting adventures with some paranormal elements and always with a great romance at the heart of the story. So she’s almost impossible to resist, and thank goodness I’ve now read everything she’s published and now can get on with the things that need doing!

One item on this morning’s list was to write in the important dates on my brand new calendar, transferring recurrent dates and adding in the new—I keep a big, old fashioned calendar in my study with all the important dates highlighted and the details written in the date square. I’ve just written in my flight details for when I fly to Brisbane for ARRC2013. And found myself grinning.

I am so looking forward to it. I attended my first AARC at Bondi and it was such fun. It’s such a treat to meet so many romance readers and to be in a huge room and find all the conversations around you are about books. Bliss! I came away having made a bunch of new friends and discovered a pile of new-to-me authors. Especially Cindy Gerard.

It’s the best present, isn’t it, finding a new author that you love—and then, finding they have a backlist! In preparation for AARC2013, I’m about to order my first Rachel Vincent book. I have a bunch of Kristan Higgins books but Rachel Vincent is new to me, and I’m hoping I get addicted. Books have always been my weakness. I don’t know how often I got into trouble when I was a kid because I was deep in a book and forgot about everything else.

So since I have no willpower, I’m not trying anyone new until after Christmas, so now, because I need to keep stress at bay (see medical justification, above) I’m re-reading a bunch of favourite Christmas stories—I love a good Christmas story—and I’ve made a little pile to keep me going.

I have Trisha Ashley’s Twelve Days of Christmas (contemporary, English, and one I’ve reread often. Not to be read if you’re trying to diet, though.) I have a pile of Mary Balogh books—Christmas Beau and Christmas Bride are out now in a reissue, though I have the original Signets. Mary Balogh does fantastic Regency-era Christmas stories—really intense and emotional—and she’s written a heap of Christmas novellas in collections with other people, also in the pile. Then there’s Lisa Kleypas’s Wallflower Christmas—I really enjoyed her Wallflower series. And I discovered a great list here, where I discovered that Nalini Singh had written two Christmas novellas, which I’ve now ordered for when the other books run out. (I know I said nothing new, but I’ve got all Nalini’s other books, so she doesn’t count as new.)

So there’s plenty to keep me going. I hope … I’m a very fast reader. Hmmm, maybe I need some recommendations…

Mischief&Mistletoe2So what about you? Have you booked for AARC2013 yet? And do you have any good Christmas romance recommendations?

Someone who leaves a comment will win a copy of the Christmas anthology Mischief and Mistletoe, containing stories by myself, Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, Pat Rice, Joanna Bourne, Nicola Cornick, Cara Elliot and Susan King. Or if you have a copy of that book already, I’ll send you a copy of my out-of-print Christmas novella — ‘The Virtuous Widow’.

  1. aimskye permalink
    1 January 2013 10:09 am

    Great Blog Anne!!! Thanks.


  2. 24 December 2012 5:59 am

    Yes, we’re sweltering here on the Gold Coast too – a lot of it caused by humidity. Gallant Waif is still my favourite. Can’t find which Christmas anthologies I’ve been reading lately because we are in the process of moving house and the books are all packed away. Also my research stuff is packed away to my annoyance (SOMEONE got too carried away) so when I wanted to find out about 19th century magistrate’s powers last night for my writing…well, I gave up and began re-reading my JAK books. I’ve re-read AQ and JAK so often they are dog-eared. Likewise Georgette Heyer. for me, re-reading is often just as much a joy as discovering new authors. Also persevering e.g. Carla Neggers didn’t do it for me the first time round, but now she’s one of my ‘must reads.’

    • 24 December 2012 6:18 am

      Vonnie, I find humidity worse than straight heat, and as for moving house in hot and humid weather — well, I would say “hugs” but that would only make you hotter. 😉 Hope you get settled quickly and are happy in the new house. I love rereading favorites, too and you’ve mentioned several of mine. All the best with the move and have a happy Christmas.

  3. 23 December 2012 8:40 pm

    I am not attending, but I wish I were! Not only is it in Australia (this California girl wants to visit!), but I’ve never had a bad experience at a romance readers/writers convention. I’d love to attend more in the future.

    • 23 December 2012 8:45 pm

      Julie, you’d be so welcome. We do have fun. And it’s not such a very long trip across the Pacific from California. Thanks for dropping by. Have a lovely Christmas.

  4. 23 December 2012 6:40 pm

    hi Anne

    I have no willpower like you …I think I will read a chapter and then get on but it always turn out to be a few and the day has gone….. I have read a few Christmas stories and your Mischief and Mistletoe has been one…I enjoyed all the stories…. I am going to ARRC … so looking forward to it… Merry Christmas

    • 23 December 2012 7:57 pm

      Hi Barbara, yes, it’s a trap, isn’t it, the “I’ll just read a chapter and then. . .” — and of course, three or four chapters (or sometimes a whole book) later. . . LOL
      Looking forward to meeting you at AARC. Have a gorgeous Christmas.

  5. Carol L permalink
    23 December 2012 5:34 pm

    Hi Anne,
    I am always getting involved in my books and before I know it I’ve lost a day. 🙂
    I loved Lisa Kleypas’s Wallflower Christmas and Mary Balogh’s Christmas Bride. Linda Lael Miller has some great Christmas stories . Happy Holidays.
    Carol L

    • 23 December 2012 6:03 pm

      Hi Carol, I think you have a lot of like-minded people here, though I have to correct you slightly — you haven’t lost a day, you’ve gained a story. 🙂 LLM is a fabulous, writer, I know, but I have to confess, I’ve never come across any of her Christmas stories. I’ll have to go looking. (I could use a bit of snow right now) Have a lovely break for the holiday period, and stay safe.

  6. 23 December 2012 3:49 pm

    I cannot WAIT for ARRA!!! I’ve just finished Fiona Lowe’s Newborn Baby For Christmas and it was gorgeous!

    • 23 December 2012 6:01 pm

      Fab, Rach! thanks for recommending Fiona Lowe’s Christmas story — another one I haven’t yet read, though I have, of course, read Fiona Lowe. And thanks for dropping by. Have a wonderful Christmas.

  7. 23 December 2012 3:49 pm

    Hi Anne, we’re sweltering here in NSW today too. 🙂

    I haven’t been reading any Christmas stories lately. I don’t know why as I love them. Your mention of Mary Balogh reminded me that I’ve been meaning to try her for ages, though. I’ve heard such good things about her. Any one in particular you think I should start with?

    P.S. Helen, so lovely of you to recommend The Nanny Who Saved Christmas — thank you!

    • 23 December 2012 5:59 pm

      Hi there, Michelle, thanks for dropping in. Which Mary Balogh? Really, pretty much any Mary Balogh book is fantastic, I think, but I first fell in love with her writing through her old signet editions, so why not try the two Christmas books (in one edition) that I mentioned? Christmas Beau and Christmas Bride. It’s great that they’re reissuing her old signets — there are some classics there.
      Have a gorgeous Christmas, Michelle. See you at AARC in March?

      • 23 December 2012 6:38 pm

        Thanks for the recommendation, Anne. Shall pop out to the book depository anon.

        And, no. Pulling a sad face — can’t make ARRC in March. 😦 But I’m sure you’ll all have a whole load of fun without me. 🙂

        Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a sparkly 2013!

  8. 23 December 2012 2:54 pm

    Hey, Hotsy Totsy — how lovely that you’ve read my Gallant Waif — thank you. It was my first book. It’s true that Christmas is often bitter-sweet for many, but it’s still a special time of year. Not so sure about you loving a day in the 30’s (Celsius) — my poor friend who arrived today from a place which was 12 degrees when she left, is positively wilting.
    Have a fabulous Christmas and all the very best for 2013.

  9. 23 December 2012 2:43 pm

    huh! Christmas is usually the ONLY time I don’t like in a romance! I find Christmas itself such a consuming event of the heart, I don’t want it romantically done up. The lone exception to that is your Gallant Waif – you do such a great great job of bringing out the specter of sad & lonely that lurks below all the hectic busy-ness.

    Always fun to see the differences in weather between here (Louisiana, USA) and there. I’ve been moaning on FB about being cold (last night it was -.5, today it got up to 18, tomorrow is forecast for 23 and -2 — all in the same day). I would LOVE a day in the 30s!

    Merry Christmas to all ya’ll! Happy New Year!

  10. 23 December 2012 2:27 pm

    I love Christmas stories. I’ve picked up some suggestions from the post. Thanks for sharing and Thanks so much for the giveaway.. Have a safe, wonderful Christmas!

    • 23 December 2012 2:51 pm

      Hi Phyllis — I think that’s what make ARRA such a nice organization — we share suggestions for books we love. Have a fabulous Christmas — and happy reading.

  11. 23 December 2012 2:08 pm

    Fab, Helen — thanks for those recommendations. Michelle Douglas is wonderful, isn’t she?

    You always work far too hard at Christmas — I remember one year when it was roasting — in the thirties — and you were cooking seventy five Christmas cakes — oh, all right , slight exaggeration, but it was a LOT to be making in such hot weather. Anyway I hope you get some time to put your feet up and get a bit of pampering. And also having fun!

    Have a fabulous Christmas and enjoy your grandies — I always think little kids make Christmas so much more special. They make us remember the magic.

  12. permalink
    23 December 2012 1:36 pm

    Hi Anne

    I love reading Christmas storries I recently read Victoria Alexander’s What Happens at Christmas I really enjoyed that one and Michelle Douglas’s A Nanny for Christmas is fantastic. I have been doing housework all day today I have just sat down so after I finish here it is reading time for me I have to go back to work on Boxing Day so not too much time off so I am going to get all the reading in I can before the family arrive Christmas morning for a great day together 6 grandchildren will make it lots of fun.

    I will be at ARROC2013 and so looking forward to it I have been to both Melbourne and Bondi and loved them I am looing forward to catching up with you and lots of friends.

    Have a wonderful Chrissy and New Year

    Have Fun

  13. louiseforster permalink
    23 December 2012 12:28 pm

    Great blog, thanks Anne. The Christmas break is a great time to catch up on some reading and you’ve certainly put together an interesting list.
    Hope to see you at ARRC in March 😉

    • 23 December 2012 2:04 pm

      Hi Louise— you’re coming? Woo hoo! Looking forward to catching up. Thanks for dropping by. Have a fabulous Christmas.

  14. 23 December 2012 11:55 am

    Unfortunately I can’t make it to the conference next year 😦
    I have a soft spot for a Christmas romance. Recently I read Anne Calhoun’s Breath on Embers which is a Christmas novella from Carina and it was really good. Kind of melancholy and erotic at the same time.
    Merry Christmas Anne 🙂

    • 23 December 2012 2:02 pm

      Ketrin, it’s hard when you have to miss out on fun events, isn’t it? I haven’t read Anne Calhoun. I love getting recommendations of new authors and books. Thanks. Have a gorgeous Christmas.

  15. 23 December 2012 10:23 am

    Ooh Anne! You make me want to lie around all day and read. I might just do that!

    • 23 December 2012 2:01 pm

      Deborah, it’s 39C in Melbourne at the moment and the best place to be is lolling around in air-conditioning, I reckon. I’ve been collecting a friend from the airport, and she’s wilting, poor thing. Thanks for dropping by.

  16. 23 December 2012 9:58 am

    Anna Campbell’s The Winter Wife is a lovely read, especially when one considers this is the season of hope, imminent new beginnings and second chances. Thanks for your other suggestions–I love a good Yuletime tale too. I’m off to check out several of these now. Merry Christmas.

    • 23 December 2012 2:00 pm

      Thanks Susanne. I read the original version in the Mammoth Book, and loved it, but I haven’t read her expanded version yet. Have a lovely Christmas.

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