FREE ALERT! Get Christmas on Bellevue Lane FREE through December 30th

December 29th, 2015

As a special Holiday Surprise for my readers and fans, Christmas on Bellevue Lane is FREE on Amazon for a limited time.

You’ve all sent such great support and love this year, for my traditionally published and indie releases.

I wanted to give something back ;o)

Click HERE to download my latest #1 BESTSELLING novella to your eReader or smart device.

Don’t miss your chance!

***

cobl-final (1)

Christmas on Bellevue Lane
November 2, 2015
Order on Amazon

Can Christmas in July be saved at the Dixon house?

With holiday carols, glittering ornaments and lots of cheer, Marsha and Joe Dixon welcome their new granddaughter to one of their favorite traditions. Marsha’s excited to share memories of her and Joe’s heartwarming love story, to help Camille feel even more a part of the sprawling foster family her grandparents have nurtured for decades.

But Joe’s struggle to recover from his recent heart attack and bypass surgery threatens their fun, and more than just Christmas in July is at stake. If he doesn’t regain his strength and ability to provide financially and emotionally for his family, the Dixon group home might have to close.
With loved ones rallying around and their treasured holiday tradition working its magic, Marsha’s convinced she can talk Joe into embracing the physical therapy he needs.

Will her and the Dixon clan’s Christmas-in-July wish come true?

Order Christmas on Bellevue Lane today!

WIN Anna’s ENTIRE Christmas Collection!

November 5th, 2015

Tell everyone at our Facebook Holiday Celebration what makes the perfect Christmas story for you, and be in the running to win my ENTIRE Holiday Collection (all three books set in reader-favorite Chandlerville, Georgia)!

christmascollection

Join the party now and comment for your chance to win!

***

cobl-final (1)

Christmas on Bellevue Lane
November 2, 2015
Pre-order on Amazon

Can Christmas in July be saved at the Dixon house?

With holiday carols, glittering ornaments and lots of cheer, Marsha and Joe Dixon welcome their new granddaughter to one of their favorite traditions. Marsha’s excited to share memories of her and Joe’s heartwarming love story, to help Camille feel even more a part of the sprawling foster family her grandparents have nurtured for decades.

But Joe’s struggle to recover from his recent heart attack and bypass surgery threatens their fun, and more than just Christmas in July is at stake. If he doesn’t regain his strength and ability to provide financially and emotionally for his family, the Dixon group home might have to close.
With loved ones rallying around and their treasured holiday tradition working its magic, Marsha’s convinced she can talk Joe into embracing the physical therapy he needs.

Will her and the Dixon clan’s Christmas-in-July wish come true?

Order Christmas on Bellevue Lane today!

GORGEOUS NEW CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT GIVEAWAY in our Holiday Release Party

November 4th, 2015

We’re talking Vintage Jewelry and Stationary in our November Holiday Celebration over on our Facebook Party Page…

I love these themes/symbols, which I introduced first with the Trifari Jewelry I spotlighted in my Christmas on Mimosa Lane. They’re hard at work again in my newest Holiday Novella.

See our latest excerpt below AND in the link to the party!

ALSO…

We’re giving away this beautiful two-dimensional, sparkly red hummingbird ornament, similar to the treasured memory Marsha and Joe Dixon hang on their tree every year (and during Christmas in July, where our latest holiday novella is set)!

hummingbird ornament red glitter

Here’s a sneak peak at how a vintage card makes
it’s way into Marsha and Joe’s story and
onto their tree in
Christmas on Bellevue Lane:

“I want our babies back. I want your parents back. You three gave me the only real family I’ve ever known. Being a part of something like that finally, experiencing it for myself, how could I ask you to give up your chance, our chance, to have as big a family as we can make?”

“But . . .” I could hear it in his voice. There was a “but.” I let him ease me around the mess I’d made, until I was back in his arms. “What are you saying?”

He kissed me, and I couldn’t keep myself from kissing him back. For a few seconds. Maybe a minute. Okay, two or three minutes. Because Joe’s a good kisser, mind you. Not because I’d forgiven him yet.

“But,” I said when I came up for air, “how are we going to have a family if—”

He placed a finger over my lips. “How do you think?”

From the back pocket of his jeans, he pulled out a small white envelope and handed it to me.

“What’s this?” I stared at the word he’d written on the front, and my life opened back up.

Our life and everything we were meant to be together felt possible again.
My knees turned to jelly. I leaned into Joe’s hug as I read and reread the single word my dear, sweet husband had written.

MOM

“This is your Valentine’s present,” he said. “Open it.”

And that’s when I saw my cardinals for the first time. There were so many beautiful birds on the card, a whole family of them. They were all so happy. And he wanted them all to be mine.

Ours.

“I’m sorry it’s not bigger.” His bottomless heart was in his eyes. “I wanted a really big one. I looked all over the Hallmark. This was the only Valentine they had with birds on it that seemed right for us.”

“It’s lovely.” I held it to my chest. I still didn’t understand. “But if we can’t have babies, then how—”

“We’ll have all the babies you want.”

Joe brushed his thumb over my lips, my cheek, my eyebrow.

“Or toddlers,” he amended, “like I was when I went into foster care Or elementary-aged children or even teenagers in high school. Whoever needs us, for as long as they need us. We’ll be their second chance at a family, and they’ll be ours.”

“Fostering?”

The way Joe had grown up.

Except this time it would be Joe and me caring for young people who had nowhere else to go. And we’d make sure every single child we brought into our home knew they were loved and accepted and wanted, the way my parents had welcomed Joe into theirs.

“I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner.” His smile was hopeful and happy. He was looking forward again to whatever happened next, instead of fearing it.

“We’ll take care of kids like you.” I felt our new dream blooming to life.

“We’ll give them a place to belong and grow, and to learn whatever they need to. They’ll know they’ll always be welcome, even when they age out of the system or go back to their families eventually or are placed in other homes after us. No matter how old they grow, our kids will always be ours. Once a Dixon, always a Dixon. That’s the only rule I’ll insist on. We’ll decide all the rest together. We’ll wing it as we go.”

We hadn’t talked much about his experience with family services. But I knew enough to want to go back and fix all the hurt he’d somehow found the strength to endure.

“We’ll make sure they thrive.” I placed my hand over my husband’s heart, making it a solemn vow…

LOTS MORE prizes are to come,
including a KINDLE GRAND PRIZE.


Join the party now and comment for your chance to win!

***

cobl-final (1)

Christmas on Bellevue Lane
November 2, 2015
Pre-order on Amazon

Can Christmas in July be saved at the Dixon house?

With holiday carols, glittering ornaments and lots of cheer, Marsha and Joe Dixon welcome their new granddaughter to one of their favorite traditions. Marsha’s excited to share memories of her and Joe’s heartwarming love story, to help Camille feel even more a part of the sprawling foster family her grandparents have nurtured for decades.

But Joe’s struggle to recover from his recent heart attack and bypass surgery threatens their fun, and more than just Christmas in July is at stake. If he doesn’t regain his strength and ability to provide financially and emotionally for his family, the Dixon group home might have to close.
With loved ones rallying around and their treasured holiday tradition working its magic, Marsha’s convinced she can talk Joe into embracing the physical therapy he needs.

Will her and the Dixon clan’s Christmas-in-July wish come true?

Order Christmas on Bellevue Lane today!

$5 Amazon Gift Card GIVEAWAY in CHRISTMAS ON BELLEVUE LANE’S Holiday Release Party!

November 3rd, 2015

Talk COMMUNITY with us on our month-long  Holiday Release Celebration FACEBOOK Party to be in the running for a $5 Amazon Gift Card!

We’re having  blast sharing what makes each of us love the communities and families of our dreams–and why I’ve created Marsha and Joe Dixon’s world to be exactly what it is in Christmas on Bellevue Lane and the rest of the Echoes of the Heart series!

Jump over the the Facebook Holiday Celebration Page (you must be a guest of the event and comment in THIS post to be in the running to win the $5 Amazon Gift Card giveaway), and share your community/family stories!

$5amazongc

Here’s another  sneak peak from
Christmas on Bellevue Lane
showing the BEST of the home Marsha and Joe have created
in their group foster home!

…Oliver and Travis and Dru were standing behind Marsha.

They’d crowded the doorway of the closet like a human wall of tough love, clearly determined to help with Joe. She didn’t know whether to thank her kids, or to look for a way to tunnel out of there with husband before what looked to be an impromptu intervention got out of hand. Meanwhile Joe’s back was turned to them, and he evidently intended to keep it that way.

His strong presence filled the closet. So, how could his health still be so precarious? How could her husband not be doing whatever he had to, to fight his way back to full strength?

When he finally did turn, she saw that he was holding a roll of bright red wrapping paper. He’d set the shopping bag down at his feet. His gaze tracked past her to the kids.

“Your mother and I need a few minutes alone,” he told them.

“You and Mom need help,” Oliver responded. “You have for a while now.”

“And we’ve all tried to pitch in,” Dru hurried to add. “We tried not to let it seem like we didn’t think you two can still do everything on your own.”
“But you can’t,” Travis insisted.

“And we’re done pretending otherwise,” Dru finished for him.

“Selena and I came home a little early”—Oliver crossed his arms over his chest—“to help Christmas in July come off without a hitch.”

“We’re all going to be hanging closer to home for a while.” Travis matched his brother’s determined stance. “At least until your recovery is in a better place, Dad.”

“Because we care about you both.” Dru touched Marsha’s arm near her elbow. “We plan to be here for your meeting with family services next week, too.”

“Whether we want you there or not?” Joe asked Read the rest of this entry »

WIN A BEAUTIFUL Hummingbird Ornament like Marsha and Joe Dixons’!

November 2nd, 2015

To celebrate Christmas on Bellevue Lane’s release, and to kick of our month-long November Holiday Celebration over on our Facebook Party Page…

We’re giving away this beautiful Laser-Cut Hummingbird Ornament, similar to the treasured memory Marsha and Joe Dixon hang on their tree every year (and during Christmas in July, where our latest holiday novella is set)!

hummingbird ornament circular flower_

Here’s a sneak peak at how much Marsha’s hummingbird ornament
means to her and her family in
Christmas on Bellevue Lane:

“What’s this one, Grammy?” Camille picked up a large crush of aging tissue paper. She peeled back the brittle, glitter-flecked layers, slowly revealing the treasure within. “It’s so pretty.”

Marsha smiled at her granddaughter’s awed expression, tearing up a little at the memories.

I want to give you beautiful things like this every day of our lives, Joe had said when he’d given it to her.

“What is it?” Camille studied the fragile creation more closely.

“It’s a hummingbird.” Marsha brushed her fingers across the tin ornament’s gilded surface.

Its colors had faded over the years. But it was just as beautiful as the first day she’d held it….

LOTS MORE prizes are to come,
including a KINDLE GRAND PRIZE.


Join the party now and comment for your chance to win!

***

cobl-final (1)

Christmas on Bellevue Lane
November 2, 2015
Pre-order on Amazon

Can Christmas in July be saved at the Dixon house?

With holiday carols, glittering ornaments and lots of cheer, Marsha and Joe Dixon welcome their new granddaughter to one of their favorite traditions. Marsha’s excited to share memories of her and Joe’s heartwarming love story, to help Camille feel even more a part of the sprawling foster family her grandparents have nurtured for decades.

But Joe’s struggle to recover from his recent heart attack and bypass surgery threatens their fun, and more than just Christmas in July is at stake. If he doesn’t regain his strength and ability to provide financially and emotionally for his family, the Dixon group home might have to close.
With loved ones rallying around and their treasured holiday tradition working its magic, Marsha’s convinced she can talk Joe into embracing the physical therapy he needs.

Will her and the Dixon clan’s Christmas-in-July wish come true?

Order Christmas on Bellevue Lane today!

READER ALERT: Christmas on Bellevue Lane SNEAK PEEK 3!

October 27th, 2015

MORE  Christmas on Bellevue Lane SNEAK PEEK… The last before our November 2nd Release ;o)

See CHAPTER THREE Below… And GRAB YOUR COPY on Amazon for only $.99 Cents

Marsha Dixon’s just told her granddaughter how Marsha and Joe first met, and now we see how much they still live each other in the present–even though they have some tough challenges ahead of them.

Early 5 STAR reviews are already up on GoodReads
for this fun, family-filled Holiday novella.

Join the Christmas on Bellevue Lane FACEBOOK RELEASE PARTY for fun contests,
discounts and more opportunities to WIN!
Including a Kindle and a vintage, heirloom quilt ;o)

cobl-final (1)

Christmas on Bellevue Lane
November 2, 2015
Pre-order on Amazon

Chapter Three

“And that’s why Dad’s always calls you Bird,” Dru said after Marsha finished her story, “when the two of you are necking and don’t think anyone’s watching.”

She winked toward Camille, who was still sitting on the other side of the love seat.

“Your grandparents are shamelessly in love, kiddo. But you’ll get used to it.”

“We’re not the only ones.” Marsha took in her twenty-two-year-old daughter’s pregnancy glow. “A day doesn’t go by that your dad and I don’t hear from someone who’s seen you and Brad kissing at the Whip when you think no one’s watching. Like . . . this morning, in fact.”

“Who ratted us out?” Dru demanded good-naturedly. “We were prepping to open. None of the rest of the crew was there yet.”

Dru and her fiancé, Brad Douglas, owned and ran his late grandmother’s hugely popular hamburger joint, the Dream Whip. Vivian Douglas’s will had left the business and the Douglas house to the couple.

Dru had begun cutting back her hours recently , morning sickness not always conducive to being up to her elbows in preparing and serving fast food and milk shakes. But she loved the place. Everyone in Chandlerville did—almost as much as they loved Dru and Brad.

“None of the crew would have called,” Marsha teased, waiting for her daughter’s memory to click.

Dru narrowed her eyes.

“Leigh Hastings . . .” She reached around Marsha and tugged at one of Camille’s hot-pink tennis shoes, the ones with Hello Kitty’s face embroidered on them. “The next time I take you to Dan’s for a cupcake, we’re gonna make Leigh pay for tattling.”

Camille nodded enthusiastically, giggling at her aunt’s hollow threat. She and Dru and the rest of the Dixons were addicted to Dan’s Doughnuts and the amazing baked things produced daily by Leigh and Dan Hastings’s staff.

“I forgot Leigh dropped off our pastry order this morning.” Dru melted into the cushions behind her, propped her feet onto the ottoman, and sighed. She closed her eyes and patted her softly rounded belly. “Sometimes I swear this little creature is siphoning away my ability to remember anything.”

“You look tired,” Marsha told her, while Camille admired the hummingbird ornament. “Why don’t you take a nap before everyone gets here?”

Dru shook her head and yawned.

Her eyes fluttered open. “And miss the chance to hang with my flower girl?”

She and Camille had been best buds from the moment Dru asked her to be in Dru’s upcoming wedding in October—which she and Brad had planned to coincide with Marsha and Joe’s thirty-fifth anniversary.

Another loud crash and curse from the other side of the house left Marsha and Dru sharing a worried glance. Read the rest of this entry »

5 STAR REVIEWS are pouring in for Christmas on Bellevue Lane!

October 27th, 2015

Early Christmas on Bellevue Lane readers are loving Marsh and Joe’s story over on GoodReads!

“Magic happens when the Dixon family celebrates Christmas in July…”

“I loved the trip as Marsha takes the reader back to the beginnings of the Dixons’ relationship. Can’t wait until the next book in the series: His Darling Bride.”

“A Lovely, heartwarming story…”

Is Christmas on Bellevue Lane on YOUR “to-read” list?

Some catch up, for readers just tuning in ;0)

Did you know we’re celebrating over on Facebook the entire month of November? And if you join us, you’ll be thrilled with all the fun and giveaways and authors and Holiday novels we’ll be spotlighting?!

THANKS AGAIN for all the support and excitement for Marsha and Joe Dixon’s Christmas-in-July love story ;o)

***

cobl-final (1)

Christmas on Bellevue Lane
November 2, 2015
Pre-order on Amazon

Can Christmas in July be saved at the Dixon house?

With holiday carols, glittering ornaments and lots of cheer, Marsha and Joe Dixon welcome their new granddaughter to one of their favorite traditions. Marsha’s excited to share memories of her and Joe’s heartwarming love story, to help Camille feel even more a part of the sprawling foster family her grandparents have nurtured for decades.

But Joe’s struggle to recover from his recent heart attack and bypass surgery threatens their fun, and more than just Christmas in July is at stake. If he doesn’t regain his strength and ability to provide financially and emotionally for his family, the Dixon group home might have to close.
With loved ones rallying around and their treasured holiday tradition working its magic, Marsha’s convinced she can talk Joe into embracing the physical therapy he needs.

Will her and the Dixon clan’s Christmas-in-July wish come true?

READER ALERT: Christmas on Bellevue Lane EXCERPT 2!

October 22nd, 2015

An Exciting  Christmas on Bellevue Lane SNEAK PEEK. See CHAPTER TWO Below… And grab your copy for only .99 Cents!

This time, we see how Marsha and Joe first met, and I’m absolutely IN LOVE with these two as “young people”–as much as I dig the amazing foster parents they are today.

Stay tuned right here on the Blog for future excerpts ;o) .

And join the Christmas on Bellevue Lane FACEBOOK RELEASE PARTY for fun contests, discounts and more opportunities to WIN! Including a Kindle and a vintage, heirloom quilt ;o)

cobl-final (1)

Christmas on Bellevue Lane
November 2, 2015
Pre-order on Amazon

Chapter Two

“Grandpa,” Marsha Dixon’s granddaughter squealed, “you’re home!”
Camille barreled across the Dixon living room toward her grandfather, her arms filled with an overflowing box of Christmas ornaments.
Dru Hampton, one of Marsha and Joe’s grown foster children, snatched the cardboard carton out of her niece’s hands, seconds before Camille launched herself into Joe’s outstretched arms.
“And you look like a walking Christmas in July ad.” Joe’s chuckle disguised the way he winced. Almost.
Despite the tightness and chronic pain Marsha knew her husband had felt since his bypass surgery, Joe lifted Camille into one of his trademark hugs. Marsha smiled at the beautiful sight. It was a precious moment. She and Joe were so very blessed.
But it was also before noon. Her husband hadn’t been due home until that afternoon, after he finished his work day. And he looked even more exhausted than he had when he’d left that morning.
Her heart caught a little as their eyes met.
Joe winked as if to say everything was going to be okay.
“Are you checking up on us, Dad?” Dru asked.
She handed Marsha the ornaments and held out her hands for Camille. She took the seven-year-old into her arms to spare Joe—even though Dru’s adorable baby bump was growing by the day, now that she was well into her second trimester.
“Brad’s heading over soon to put the tree up,” she said. “I didn’t think we’d see you before you showed up with dinner. The family’s counting on you to be our pizza delivery device.”
Joe waved away the undercurrent of worry in his daughter’s voice.
“I’ll call Little Vincent’s later,” he said. “They’ll deliver our pies. And everyone at the office understood me not wanting to miss a minute of Camille’s first Dixon Family Christmas in July. It wouldn’t be July 1st, if I wasn’t wrestling our artificial tree out of the storage room and making sure the kids have something to hang things on later.”
He kissed Camille’s forehead and ambled away, heading toward the kitchen and the storage room beyond.
He was noticeably limping when he passed Marsha. She set the box Drew had given her beside a stack of similar ones and snagged Joe’s hand. When he slowed to a halt beside her, she leaned in so only he would hear, knowing she shouldn’t ask.
But she couldn’t stop herself.
“Why don’t you let Brad take care of the tree?” she asked.
She’d turned away from the others. She’d lowered her voice. She was tempting a replay of her and Joe’s quiet argument after breakfast.
“You’re tired and sore,” she rushed to add when she felt him tense, “and Dru said Brad was happy to help.”  Their soon-to-be son-in-law had cleared his work schedule. “Save your energy for when the kids get home from their days. The rest of us can get things started. Maybe you could take a—”
“Nap?” Joe jerked away from her. “Like an old man?”
He glanced over his shoulder at their audience. Dru and Camille were hanging on every quiet word.
“If you’d had your way this morning,” Joe said to Marsha, “I’d have taken a nap before I even got out of bed. I’m not going to collapse, Bird. I’m just assembling a stupid Christmas tree!”
He looked instantly embarrassed, apologetic, at the way he’d raised his voice.
Shaking his head, he glanced at the girls again, and then walked away from the family room and the conversation with Marsha he kept refusing to finish. His footsteps ate a path through the kitchen. He was still limping, every footstep visibly costing him.
“Are we still having Christmas in July?” Camille switched from watching her grandfather’s retreat, to waiting for Marsha’s answer.
“Kid,” Dru answered, while Marsha stared down at the cardboard cartons full of Christmas cheer and regained her composure. “Nothing’s gonna stop us from rocking your first Dixon holiday. This place with be packed in a few hours with family ready to get their party on.”
Marsha nodded, shoving aside her shock at how much more frequently her husband’s uncharacteristic outbursts were coming.
She carried Camille’s ornament box to the love seat that was positioned cattycornered to the fireplace. Later, the family’s artificial spruce would be assembled there—the way it had been for thirty years now.
“But why Christmas in July?” Camille asked.
Marsha smiled indulgently as she sat.
Their family’s quirky July tradition came with quite a story attached. One that could take the rest of the morning and half the afternoon to tell.
“Because December is too long to wait,” she offered simply, “for a little magic to happen.”
“Even more magic”—Camille plopped down on the love seat’s plump cushions. She pulled the cardboard box into her lap and began looking through the colorful ornaments within—“than my mommy and daddy finally making me a Dixon?”
Marsha’s heart filled. Her granddaughter had only been with them for such a short time. But she’d already brought so much sunshine into their family.
Dru moved the other boxes of ornaments and twinkly tree lights to the fireplace.
Marsha hugged Camille. “You’ve always been a Dixon, sweetheart.”
Just like all the foster kids in her and Joe’s sprawling family would always be Dixons, wherever they came from and wherever they went after they left or aged out of their group home.
“Even when I didn’t know who any of you were?” Camille asked.
“Especially then.” Marsha thought of her son and his new bride’s whirlwind, second-chance romance.
Oliver and Selena had reconnected only a few months ago.
It hadn’t been an easy reunion—seeing each other again for the first time in seven years, after Oliver had made his way back to Chandlerville when he’d heard about Joe’s heart attack. But love had prevailed—and now the forever connection Camille’s parents’ had always felt for each other had deepened even more.
Oliver and his new bride had married two days ago at the county courthouse, with a handful of friends and family beside them as witnesses. Then they’d taken off to enjoy a quick, three-day honeymoon to the mountains.
“Your mommy and daddy,” Marsha assured her granddaughter, “were just waiting for the perfect time to bring you home to us.”
“You mean so I could be here for Christmas this summer? And at Grandpa’s Father of the Year party last month?”
“Exactly.”
Marsha straightened one of her Camille’s perpetually off-center pigtails and pecked a kiss onto her granddaughter’s button nose.
“And now that school’s out,” she said, “Grandpa and I have the whole summer to make up for lost time. Your parents better watch out. When they get home, they’ll have to wrestle your grandpa and me to get you back.”
Camille grinned at the thought of the grownups in her newly settled life fighting over her.
“But we live just two streets over now,” she reminded Marsha. “And I’m still at Grammy Belinda’s next door all the time, ‘cause she babysits me for Mommy and Daddy, too.”
“But if you were over there now, who would help Dru and me pick which ornaments should go on the tree first?”
Sorting through the Dixon family’s overflowing boxes holiday decor had been Marsha’s master plan for keeping Camille occupied until Christmas in July officially began—when the rest of the family returned home in the afternoon.
“Grandpa would,” Camille insisted. “Cause he loves Christmas in July, too, right?”
A crash and a curse from the direction of storage room distracted Marsha from answering.
“Of course he does,” Dru assured her niece.
Except Joe had actually mumbled something at breakfast that morning about canceling this year’s party—a tradition his love for Marsha and their family had dreamed up years ago.
He’d apologized almost as soon as he’d said it.
He’d just been tired and hurting, he’d assured Marsha. He was fine. Everything was fine. They were fine. And they’d have a blast tonight with the kids.
But he was home from work early again, something that had been happening a couple days a week since he’d started back after his bypass surgery. And there was another crash and a fresh curse sounding from the storage room. This one clear enough to widen Camille’s beautiful green eyes until they were as round as an owl’s.
She glanced at Marsha. “Is Grandpa mad?”
“No, sweetie.” Marsha wished anger was all that was ailing her husband.
She wished she could do more to help him than insulating the kids, young and old, from how hard it had become for their father and grandfather to do the things he absolutely loved doing for their family.
Even Christmas in July.
“I think grandpa’s just a little tired,” she explained. “And you saw how much we have in storage. Once he drags our tree in here, everything will be right as rain.”
Dru’s unconvinced stare over Camille’s head confirmed what Marsha had suspected for the last week or so.
Her older children were no longer buying their parents’ assurances. Dru clearly knew that Joe was anything but fine today.
“Grandpa loves Christmas more than all the rest of us put together.” Dru smiled for Camille’s benefit, raising an eyebrow at Marsha.
Camille’s silence begged Marsha to convince her.
“We’ll have a tree up for decorating in no time,” Marsha assured you.
“You’ll see,” Dru added. “There’s a party going on here tonight, and you’re this year’s guest of honor.”
“Yay!” Camille kicked her feet, her excitement returning.
She dipped her hands into the Marsha and Joe’s oldest box of Christmas things.
“Does every kid in the family really have their own ornaments?” she asked. “How long have you been doing Christmas in July?”
“Since forever.” Dru smoothed back the dark curls that passed for Camille’s bangs. “And you’ll have your own ornaments now, too. It’s part of the tradition.”
“What’s this one, Grammy?” Camille picked up a large crush of aging tissue paper. She peeled back the brittle, glitter-flecked layers, slowly revealing the treasure within. “It’s so pretty . . . ”
Marsha smiled at her granddaughter’s awed expression, tearing up a little at the memories.
I want to give you beautiful things like this every day of our lives, Joe had said when he’d given it to her.
“What is it?” Camille held up the fragile creation.
“It’s a hummingbird.” Marsha brushed her fingers over tin ornament’s gilded surface.
Its colors had had faded over the years. But it was just as beautiful as the first day she’d held it.
“Grandpa Joe gave it to me in college.”
“College?”
“That’s where they met,” Dru said. “Actually, your grandpa ran over your Grammy Marsha, her first week on the University of Georgia campus.”
Dru rubbed Marsha’s shoulder, comforting, reassuring, supporting.
Then they both tensed as another frustrated growl erupted on the other side of the house.
“College is where we fell in love,” Marsha said, falling into that place in-between, where the best memories could take you.
Where before and now and forever suddenly felt as if they were all the same. All the good and the bad. The dreams and the disappointments. The setbacks and the triumphs. Everything you’d been and were and ever would become, could bind themselves together sometimes when you were remembering, showing you the story of your life.
She and Joe were maybe facing the toughest setback of their marriage. What if he couldn’t recover from his heart problems the way they needed him to?
Could their love see them and their foster family through even that, the same as it had every other challenge they’d faced?
“Mom?” Dru’s voice pulled Marsha back from her thoughts. “I think it’s time Camille heard your and Dad’s story.”
Marsha smiled at her older daughter, thanking Dru for the welcomed distraction.
Marsha and Joe shared their foster family’s history with each child placed in their home. It was their history, too—something to belong to and trust in and take with them for the rest of their lives. And that same story belonged to Camille now, too.
Marsha couldn’t think of anything she’d enjoy better than indulging in a few minutes of looking back.
“Your grandpa gave me this ornament on the night he proposed to me,” she said. “I’d never seen anything so magical.”
“You met at Christmas?” Camille asked.
Marsha shook her head, realizing she’d have to start at the beginning.
She felt the story tumbling out as she cuddled her granddaughter close and Dru settled in next to them.
“Not exactly, sweetheart  . . . ”
Fall 1980

University of Georgia Campus

There was something about Joe Dixon that wouldn’t let me stay mad at him right from the start, when he literally ran over me because he wasn’t watching where he was going.

Actually he was running, and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Back then he was always rushing to get somewhere, all handsome and strong and on his way to making something important of himself. And my head was usually in the clouds. I guess because I’d grown up on top of a Georgia mountain near the North Carolina border, with sky all around me and the rest of the world feeling far away.

The day I met Joe, I was already late for a study group at the UGA library. And yes, I was rushing.

But I was minding my own business and walking down a perfectly good sidewalk, not in anyone’s way, when something that felt like a wall barreled sideways into me. I later found out that one of his buddies had thrown a football at Joe—even though he was carrying even more books than I was. Then suddenly my things and I and Joe and his books were airborne right along with that ball. I mean, look at me. I was even smaller in college than I am now. And he was running full-speed.

So I went flying, the ground rushing toward me so fast I screamed. Then the strongest arms I’d ever had around me hugged me tight and turned me in midair. Joe’s body skidded into the grass first, with me on top cushioned against his chest, still screaming.

At least until the air was knocked out of me and I couldn’t breathe at all.

“Oh, my gosh.” He rolled over and took me with him, settling me into the soft green grass.

He was leaning over me, this big, amazing-smelling blur blocking out the sun so I couldn’t see his face.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “I didn’t see you until the last minute, and it was too late to stop, and I was really moving, and, oh, my gosh. Are you okay? Did I hurt you? Is there anything I can get you? Say something, please.”

“Strawberries,” was all I could get out, while I gulped to get air down and mostly failed.

He smelled like strawberries, like he’d just eaten them or picked them. Or maybe our collision had addled my senses along with the rest of me. Because it turned out that Joe’s allergic to strawberries and has sworn up and down since that day that there wasn’t a whiff of my favorite fruit on him when we met.

It didn’t matter, really.

Right about then he rolled to his side, and the sun was no longer in my eyes, and then it wouldn’t have mattered if he’d smelled like the worst thing in the world. I would have wanted to get closer.

All I could process were incredible blue eyes, a tanned smiling face, and a chuckle that had me laughing, too, as I pressed him back to the ground, practically lying on top of him again like I wanted to keep him all to myself.

“Just for the record,” he teased me, “I’m not a strawberry. In case you were thinking of taking a bite to be sure. Not that I’d mind having the prettiest girl on campus give me a taste test. But then I’d be obliged to reciprocate.”

That’s when I started to wonder if he’d run into me on purpose, maybe just a little. Especially when he pulled me closer instead of letting me go. His hands were so big, his fingers nearly stretched from one side of my back to the other. Even more of him came into focus, along with the crowd that had gathered around us. I shoved him away finally and somehow managed to get on my feet without falling back down again.

I’d snapped the strap on one of my sandals, I realized, and there were leaves in my hair.

Joe stood, too, and started plucking out the tree debris, making a show of it while everyone watched.

“So,” he said, “no strawberry tasting?”

I glared at him.

I wanted the ground to swallow us both—him first. Read the rest of this entry »

WIN a $25 Amazon Gift Card: Pre-Order Christmas on Bellevue Lane

October 16th, 2015

An EARLY HOLIDAY GIFT for fans who Pre-Order Christmas on Bellevue Lane!

Comment in the Facebook Holiday Release Party with your Amazon Order Confirmation #, to be in the running for a $25 Amazon Gift Card. You also have to be a guest of Christmas on Bellevue Lane’s Holiday Release Celebration to be eligible (Facebook’s rule, not mine). But That’s all you have to do…

Don’t forget you have to COMMENT HERE with your Amazon Pre-order Confirmation Number.

THANKS AGAIN for all the support and excitement for Marsha and Joe Dixon’s Christmas-in-July love story ;o)

***

cobl-final (1)

Christmas on Bellevue Lane
November 2, 2015
Pre-order on Amazon

Can Christmas in July be saved at the Dixon house?

With holiday carols, glittering ornaments and lots of cheer, Marsha and Joe Dixon welcome their new granddaughter to one of their favorite traditions. Marsha’s excited to share memories of her and Joe’s heartwarming love story, to help Camille feel even more a part of the sprawling foster family her grandparents have nurtured for decades.

But Joe’s struggle to recover from his recent heart attack and bypass surgery threatens their fun, and more than just Christmas in July is at stake. If he doesn’t regain his strength and ability to provide financially and emotionally for his family, the Dixon group home might have to close.
With loved ones rallying around and their treasured holiday tradition working its magic, Marsha’s convinced she can talk Joe into embracing the physical therapy he needs.

Will her and the Dixon clan’s Christmas-in-July wish come true?

HOLIDAY TREAT: A Christmas on Bellevue Lane EXCERPT!

October 15th, 2015

A Christmas on Bellevue Lane EXCERPT for my Fans and Friends! Grab your copy for only .99 Cents!

See CHAPTER ONE Below… Then stay tuned right here on the Blog for CHAPTER TWO next week–where we get our first glimpse of how Marsha and Joe Dixon met and fell in love ;o) .

And join the Christmas on Bellevue Lane FACEBOOK RELEASE PARTY for fun contests, discounts and more opportunities to WIN!

cobl-final (1)

Christmas on Bellevue Lane
November 2, 2015
Pre-order on Amazon

Chapter One

“Grandpa,” Marsha Dixon’s granddaughter squealed, “you’re home!”
Camille barreled across the Dixon living room toward her grandfather, her arms filled with an overflowing box of Christmas ornaments.
Dru Hampton, one of Marsha and Joe’s grown foster children, snatched the cardboard carton out of her niece’s hands, seconds before Camille launched herself into Joe’s outstretched arms.
“And you look like a walking Christmas in July ad.” Joe’s chuckle disguised the way he winced. Almost.
Despite the tightness and chronic pain Marsha knew her husband had felt since his bypass surgery, Joe lifted Camille into one of his trademark hugs. Marsha smiled at the beautiful sight. It was a precious moment. She and Joe were so very blessed.
But it was also before noon. Her husband hadn’t been due home until that afternoon, after he finished his work day. And he looked even more exhausted than he had when he’d left that morning.
Her heart caught a little as their eyes met.
Joe winked as if to say everything was going to be okay.
“Are you checking up on us, Dad?” Dru asked.
She handed Marsha the ornaments and held out her hands for Camille. She took the seven-year-old into her arms to spare Joe—even though Dru’s adorable baby bump was growing by the day, now that she was well into her second trimester.
“Brad’s heading over soon to put the tree up,” she said. “I didn’t think we’d see you before you showed up with dinner. The family’s counting on you to be our pizza delivery device.”
Joe waved away the undercurrent of worry in his daughter’s voice.
“I’ll call Little Vincent’s later,” he said. “They’ll deliver our pies. And everyone at the office understood me not wanting to miss a minute of Camille’s first Dixon Family Christmas in July. It wouldn’t be July 1st, if I wasn’t wrestling our artificial tree out of the storage room and making sure the kids have something to hang things on later.”
He kissed Camille’s forehead and ambled away, heading toward the kitchen and the storage room beyond.
He was noticeably limping when he passed Marsha. She set the box Drew had given her beside a stack of similar ones and snagged Joe’s hand. When he slowed to a halt beside her, she leaned in so only he would hear, knowing she shouldn’t ask.
But she couldn’t stop herself.
“Why don’t you let Brad take care of the tree?” she asked.
She’d turned away from the others. She’d lowered her voice. She was tempting a replay of her and Joe’s quiet argument after breakfast.
“You’re tired and sore,” she rushed to add when she felt him tense, “and Dru said Brad was happy to help.”  Their soon-to-be son-in-law had cleared his work schedule. “Save your energy for when the kids get home from their days. The rest of us can get things started. Maybe you could take a—”
“Nap?” Joe jerked away from her. “Like an old man?”
He glanced over his shoulder at their audience. Dru and Camille were hanging on every quiet word.
“If you’d had your way this morning,” Joe said to Marsha, “I’d have taken a nap before I even got out of bed. I’m not going to collapse, Bird. I’m just assembling a stupid Christmas tree!”
He looked instantly embarrassed, apologetic, at the way he’d raised his voice.
Shaking his head, he glanced at the girls again, and then walked away from the family room and the conversation with Marsha he kept refusing to finish. His footsteps ate a path through the kitchen. He was still limping, every footstep visibly costing him.
“Are we still having Christmas in July?” Camille switched from watching her grandfather’s retreat, to waiting for Marsha’s answer.
“Kid,” Dru answered, while Marsha stared down at the cardboard cartons full of Christmas cheer and regained her composure. “Nothing’s gonna stop us from rocking your first Dixon holiday. This place with be packed in a few hours with family ready to get their party on.”
Marsha nodded, shoving aside her shock at how much more frequently her husband’s uncharacteristic outbursts were coming.
She carried Camille’s ornament box to the love seat that was positioned cattycornered to the fireplace. Later, the family’s artificial spruce would be assembled there—the way it had been for thirty years now.
“But why Christmas in July?” Camille asked.
Marsha smiled indulgently as she sat.
Their family’s quirky July tradition came with quite a story attached. One that could take the rest of the morning and half the afternoon to tell.
“Because December is too long to wait,” she offered simply, “for a little magic to happen.”
“Even more magic”—Camille plopped down on the love seat’s plump cushions. She pulled the cardboard box into her lap and began looking through the colorful ornaments within—“than my mommy and daddy finally making me a Dixon?”
Marsha’s heart filled. Her granddaughter had only been with them for such a short time. But she’d already brought so much sunshine into their family.
Dru moved the other boxes of ornaments and twinkly tree lights to the fireplace.
Marsha hugged Camille. “You’ve always been a Dixon, sweetheart.”
Just like all the foster kids in her and Joe’s sprawling family would always be Dixons, wherever they came from and wherever they went after they left or aged out of their group home.
“Even when I didn’t know who any of you were?” Camille asked.
“Especially then.” Marsha thought of her son and his new bride’s whirlwind, second-chance romance.
Oliver and Selena had reconnected only a few months ago.
It hadn’t been an easy reunion—seeing each other again for the first time in seven years, after Oliver had made his way back to Chandlerville when he’d heard about Joe’s heart attack. But love had prevailed—and now the forever connection Camille’s parents’ had always felt for each other had deepened even more.
Oliver and his new bride had married two days ago at the county courthouse, with a handful of friends and family beside them as witnesses. Then they’d taken off to enjoy a quick, three-day honeymoon to the mountains.
“Your mommy and daddy,” Marsha assured her granddaughter, “were just waiting for the perfect time to bring you home to us.”
“You mean so I could be here for Christmas this summer? And at Grandpa’s Father of the Year party last month?”
“Exactly.”
Marsha straightened one of her Camille’s perpetually off-center pigtails and pecked a kiss onto her granddaughter’s button nose.
“And now that school’s out,” she said, “Grandpa and I have the whole summer to make up for lost time. Your parents better watch out. When they get home, they’ll have to wrestle your grandpa and me to get you back.”
Camille grinned at the thought of the grownups in her newly settled life fighting over her.
“But we live just two streets over now,” she reminded Marsha. “And I’m still at Grammy Belinda’s next door all the time, ‘cause she babysits me for Mommy and Daddy, too.”
“But if you were over there now, who would help Dru and me pick which ornaments should go on the tree first?”
Sorting through the Dixon family’s overflowing boxes holiday decor had been Marsha’s master plan for keeping Camille occupied until Christmas in July officially began—when the rest of the family returned home in the afternoon.
“Grandpa would,” Camille insisted. “Cause he loves Christmas in July, too, right?”
A crash and a curse from the direction of storage room distracted Marsha from answering.
“Of course he does,” Dru assured her niece.
Except Joe had actually mumbled something at breakfast that morning about canceling this year’s party—a tradition his love for Marsha and their family had dreamed up years ago.
He’d apologized almost as soon as he’d said it.
He’d just been tired and hurting, he’d assured Marsha. He was fine. Everything was fine. They were fine. And they’d have a blast tonight with the kids.
But he was home from work early again, something that had been happening a couple days a week since he’d started back after his bypass surgery. And there was another crash and a fresh curse sounding from the storage room. This one clear enough to widen Camille’s beautiful green eyes until they were as round as an owl’s.
She glanced at Marsha. “Is Grandpa mad?”
“No, sweetie.” Marsha wished anger was all that was ailing her husband.
She wished she could do more to help him than insulating the kids, young and old, from how hard it had become for their father and grandfather to do the things he absolutely loved doing for their family.
Even Christmas in July.
“I think grandpa’s just a little tired,” she explained. “And you saw how much we have in storage. Once he drags our tree in here, everything will be right as rain.”
Dru’s unconvinced stare over Camille’s head confirmed what Marsha had suspected for the last week or so.
Her older children were no longer buying their parents’ assurances. Dru clearly knew that Joe was anything but fine today.
“Grandpa loves Christmas more than all the rest of us put together.” Dru smiled for Camille’s benefit, raising an eyebrow at Marsha.
Camille’s silence begged Marsha to convince her.
“We’ll have a tree up for decorating in no time,” Marsha assured you.
“You’ll see,” Dru added. “There’s a party going on here tonight, and you’re this year’s guest of honor.”
“Yay!” Camille kicked her feet, her excitement returning.
She dipped her hands into the Marsha and Joe’s oldest box of Christmas things.
“Does every kid in the family really have their own ornaments?” she asked. “How long have you been doing Christmas in July?”
“Since forever.” Dru smoothed back the dark curls that passed for Camille’s bangs. “And you’ll have your own ornaments now, too. It’s part of the tradition.”
“What’s this one, Grammy?” Camille picked up a large crush of aging tissue paper. She peeled back the brittle, glitter-flecked layers, slowly revealing the treasure within. “It’s so pretty . . . ”
Marsha smiled at her granddaughter’s awed expression, tearing up a little at the memories.
I want to give you beautiful things like this every day of our lives, Joe had said when he’d given it to her.
“What is it?” Camille held up the fragile creation.
“It’s a hummingbird.” Marsha brushed her fingers over tin ornament’s gilded surface.
Its colors had had faded over the years. But it was just as beautiful as the first day she’d held it.
“Grandpa Joe gave it to me in college.”
“College?”
“That’s where they met,” Dru said. “Actually, your grandpa ran over your Grammy Marsha, her first week on the University of Georgia campus.”
Dru rubbed Marsha’s shoulder, comforting, reassuring, supporting.
Then they both tensed as another frustrated growl erupted on the other side of the house.
“College is where we fell in love,” Marsha said, falling into that place in-between, where the best memories could take you.
Where before and now and forever suddenly felt as if they were all the same. All the good and the bad. The dreams and the disappointments. The setbacks and the triumphs. Everything you’d been and were and ever would become, could bind themselves together sometimes when you were remembering, showing you the story of your life.
She and Joe were maybe facing the toughest setback of their marriage. What if he couldn’t recover from his heart problems the way they needed him to?
Could their love see them and their foster family through even that, the same as it had every other challenge they’d faced?
“Mom?” Dru’s voice pulled Marsha back from her thoughts. “I think it’s time Camille heard your and Dad’s story.”
Marsha smiled at her older daughter, thanking Dru for the welcomed distraction.
Marsha and Joe shared their foster family’s history with each child placed in their home. It was their history, too—something to belong to and trust in and take with them for the rest of their lives. And that same story belonged to Camille now, too.
Marsha couldn’t think of anything she’d enjoy better than indulging in a few minutes of looking back.
“Your grandpa gave me this ornament on the night he proposed to me,” she said. “I’d never seen anything so magical.”
“You met at Christmas?” Camille asked.
Marsha shook her head, realizing she’d have to start at the beginning.
She felt the story tumbling out as she cuddled her granddaughter close and Dru settled in next to them.
“Not exactly, sweetheart  . . . ”
“Grandpa,” Marsha Dixon’s granddaughter squealed, “you’re home!”
Camille barreled across the Dixon living room toward her grandfather, her arms filled with an overflowing box of Christmas ornaments.
Dru Hampton, one of Marsha and Joe’s grown foster children, snatched the cardboard carton out of her niece’s hands, seconds before Camille launched herself into Joe’s outstretched arms.
“And you look like a walking Christmas in July ad.” Joe’s chuckle disguised the way he winced. Almost.
Despite the tightness and chronic pain Marsha knew her husband had felt since his bypass surgery, Joe lifted Camille into one of his trademark hugs. Marsha smiled at the beautiful sight. It was a precious moment. She and Joe were so very blessed.
But it was also before noon. Her husband hadn’t been due home until that afternoon, after he finished his work day. And he looked even more exhausted than he had when he’d left that morning.
Her heart caught a little as their eyes met.
Joe winked as if to say everything was going to be okay.
“Are you checking up on us, Dad?” Dru asked.
She handed Marsha the ornaments and held out her hands for Camille. She took the seven-year-old into her arms to spare Joe—even though Dru’s adorable baby bump was growing by the day, now that she was well into her second trimester.
“Brad’s heading over soon to put the tree up,” she said. “I didn’t think we’d see you before you showed up with dinner. The family’s counting on you to be our pizza delivery device.”
Joe waved away the undercurrent of worry in his daughter’s voice.
“I’ll call Little Vincent’s later,” he said. “They’ll deliver our pies. And everyone at the office understood me not wanting to miss a minute of Camille’s first Dixon Family Christmas in July. It wouldn’t be July 1st, if I wasn’t wrestling our artificial tree out of the storage room and making sure the kids have something to hang things on later.”
He kissed Camille’s forehead and ambled away, heading toward the kitchen and the storage room beyond.
He was noticeably limping when he passed Marsha. She set the box Drew had given her beside a stack of similar ones and snagged Joe’s hand. When he slowed to a halt beside her, she leaned in so only he would hear, knowing she shouldn’t ask.
But she couldn’t stop herself.
“Why don’t you let Brad take care of the tree?” she asked.
She’d turned away from the others. She’d lowered her voice. She was tempting a replay of her and Joe’s quiet argument after breakfast.
“You’re tired and sore,” she rushed to add when she felt him tense, “and Dru said Brad was happy to help.”  Their soon-to-be son-in-law had cleared his work schedule. “Save your energy for when the kids get home from their days. The rest of us can get things started. Maybe you could take a—”
“Nap?” Joe jerked away from her. “Like an old man?” Read the rest of this entry »