Archive for the ‘holiday’ Category

Jina with her Thanksgiving turkey

On this cool autumn day before Thanksgiving, I can’t help but think about how giving thanks for all the wonderful blessings in our lives is universal.

It became so real to me when the heroine in my upcoming novel, The Blonde Samurai, is in 1874 Japan celebrating Thanksgiving with her samurai family.

Check out my blog at NAUGHTY AUTHOR CHICKS and see what my heroine, Katie O’Roarke, wrote in her memoir.


February 2010: meet The Blonde Samurai
“She embraced the way of the warrior. Two swords. Two loves.”


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I love to Twitter.  It’s fun, quick, witty, informative and oriented to the happenings of the day.  So, I thought, why not Twitter about my new Spice release, Cleopatra’s Perfume? 

What’s it about? you ask, anticipating aromatic Tweets.

To quote several book sites: “As the world teeters on the brink of war in 1939, the privileged classes pursue the delights of the flesh in exclusive clubs. Lady Eve Marlowe possesses a treasure–an elixir of ancient origin with a power so great it sweeps her into a dangerous erotic game.”


 It was a different world back then before cell phones, the Internet–and Twitter.  What if I Twittered about what life was like when Cleopatra’s Perfume takes place (from the 1930s through the early 1940s) so that you, the reader, could get a better understanding of the world my heroine, Lady Eve Marlowe, lived in?

Think of it as a Twitter time machine…and you’re at the controls.





 Here are Tweets from 1939 when Cleopatra’s Perfume takes place:


 —You can buy a new 1939 Dodge sedan for $815–no GPS system or air bags back then, but a spare tire and bumpers were included and something new: safety glass.  Dodge was a sponsor of the Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour–the American Idol of its time. 


 –Give your dry, lifeless skin a boost with Palmolive soap made with palm and olive oils.  No surprise here since it says so in the name, though ads at the time claimed olive oil was the secret ingredient.


 —Make your teeth shine with Calox Powder–yes, powder, not toothpaste.  I call this early teeth whiteners.  FYI, the first toothpaste came in a jar in the 1870s, but the familiar toothpaste tube didn’t make the scene until 1892.

Try a new method of sanitary protection: Tampax.  This was a innovation that gave women the freedom, according to the ad, to wear sheer evening gowns without detection.  A month’s supply, a box containing 10 Tampax, costs 35 cents.   

Write your next novel on a portable Smith & Corona typewriter with back spacer–Swinging Shift–84 characters for only $29.75.  The typewriter weighs only nine pounds.  Best feature about this typewriter: no Spam email to distract you!


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I was halfway out my front door when the telephone rang. I slammed to a halt, clutching my car keys in one hand, paperwork in the other, my purse slung over my shoulder. Who could be calling me this early in the morning? It was only 8 a.m.

I was late for a meeting and the last thing I needed was another telemarketer trying to sell me carpet cleaning for Christmas.

Then it hit me. I remembered I had sent my Christmas tradition to the Oprah Show producers a few days ago.

It was 10 a.m. in Chicago. Oprah Time.

I grabbed the phone and heard, “Hi, this is the Oprah Show calling.”

“Hi…” I mumbled, not knowing what else to say.

“Do you have time to talk?” the woman on the other end of the phone asked.

Clearing my throat, I said, “Yeah, sure.”

“Great. We received your story about your Christmas tradition…”

I tossed my purse and car keys onto a chair, then I heard the words that sent my pulse racing out of control: “…we’d like to use your Christmas tradition for a segment on our holiday show.”

I was so excited. My Christmas tradition was going to be on Oprah. If only my mom could see this, I thought, praying somehow she did know.

My mother loved to play the piano, especially at Christmastime. She knew all the holiday carols by heart and every year for as long as I can remember, she would sit down at our old studio upright piano and take us on a musical trip to Bethlehem or a journey with the Three Wise Men or rock’n roll with Jingle Bell Rock.

  Jina's Christmas Piano TreeMy mother passed away a few days before Christmas several years ago. I didn’t have the heart to trim a tree that year. Then I remembered her piano and how important it was to her.  Why not a Christmas Piano Tree?  After all, a piano is made out of wood and that wood was once a tree, I could hear her saying, so why not a Christmas Piano Tree?

I decorated that same old, wonderful studio upright with Christmas ornaments that year and have been doing so every Christmas since then as a tribute to my mother.

It was an exciting few days after the Oprah Show producer called. They asked for photos then we taped the Oprah segment for my Christmas piano tree tradition with me reading what I wrote about my mom. The sound crew added holiday music and I got all ready to watch the show–but it ran overtime, so my segment didn’t make the national broadcast. Naturally I was devastated, but the Oprah Show producer said she would try to do something cool for me.

The next year the Oprah Show ran my old home movies throughout their holiday show and as part of the promo. So there’s my pretty young mom at Christmastime waving into camera in our old home movies on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Very cool.

I wanted to share my Christmas Piano Tree tradition and I remembered how my mother always reminded me that Christmas was not about presents, but about the goodness in people. I wrote a one-act play called The Christmas Piano Tree (produced at the Malibu Stage Company Theatre) about Mrs. Baxter, a widow who’s forgotten the true meaning of Christmas until a girl with pink hair, a dead cell phone and a big problem helps her re-discover the magic of the holiday season.

Stay tuned…

Coming up next: my one-act play featuring Mrs. Baxter, Rachel (the girl with the pink hair), and the Christmas Piano Tree.

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I feel the holiday spirit in the air. Cold, windy days here at the beach. The smell of pine and cinnamon wafting in the supermarket. The sparkle of red and blue and green holiday lights evoking a warm, cheery feeling inside me down to my toes.

I also have a lot of writing to do.  A lot.  I just finished author edits on my next Spice, Cleopatra’s Perfume (“One whiff and every man was her slave…”) and I’m working on a new Spice as well as another project, both that require an immense amount of research.  I’m not complaining.  I’ve worked years to get to this point in my writing and every day when I sit down at my computer, I give thanks for all I have.

Yet this holiday season I won’t be able to make my local Orange County RWA December meeting and see everyone and share holiday cheer.  My deadlines are just too close and there’s so much writing to be done. 

When I was in the midst of my author edits for my Cleopatra’s Perfume manuscript, I began to think “What if Saint Nick could do these edits for me…”   
I was so inspired by that idea that in minutes I’d written my holiday poem and decided to record it.  I put together a video podcast using pictures from previous podcasts I’ve done on various subjects.  

The result is my Holiday Poem video: “Saint Nick, Cleopatra and me.” I hope you enjoy it.  And you never know, Saint Nick might log in on your computer and help you with your writing…

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa!!


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