Friday, October 30, 2015

Keep Your Diamonds Sparkling and Read a New Love Story from Rachelle

Today I'm sharing one of the tutorials from my book, Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things, because it reminds me of love stories and I recently wrote a Christmas love story called Hope for Christmas in Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology.

 Keep Your Diamonds Sparkling

A little tip from Rachelle

 I've been married to my sweetheart, Steve, for 17 years and this is the diamond ring he gave me all those years ago. It's been through a lot of wear, had to be re-pronged and frequently is dirty since I have five kids and endless household chores.
 I only get it cleaned when I go to the mall, and the shop we bought it from checks and cleans it, so if you look closely in the picture, you can see it isn't sparkling today because I don't go shopping much.

Here's a great little solution that only takes five minutes to keep your diamond sparkling!

Soak your diamond ring in a warm solution of liquid dish
detergent and water for five minutes.

Use a soft brush if necessary
to remove dirt. Soft is the key—don’t use a brush with bristles that
are stiff enough to scratch the ring’s metal setting.

Swish the ring
around in the solution and then place it in a colander (so you don’t
lose it down the drain). 

Rinse it thoroughly in warm water. Dry with
a lint-free cloth.

 Now look at that diamond ring sparkle! Hopefully you can tell a difference from the pictures. If not, try it, you'll definitely smile when you notice the difference on your own ring!

Learn more about Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things and all of the chapter tutorials here
You can read Hope for Christmas here for .99 cents for a limited time!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Guest Post from Fitness Expert for the Holidays Cami Checketts

Today I have a guest post from one of my good friends and fellow authors, Cami Checketts. Cami is super-talented, a fit mom of four boys, and just an all-around awesome person!

I am so excited for this Christmas season. My boys are huge, funny, and happy with simple gifts like a box of lacrosse balls; we're all healthy and have opportunities to help someone in need; and I finally wrapped my mind around being cold and am somewhat excited for the snow.
I hope you're gearing up for Christmas as well. If you're looking for a delightful Christmas romance, check out this fun anthology set in upstate New York. Also, if you're needing ideas to stay healthy through the holiday, keep reading below the Christmas Cash giveaway.

Christmas Kisses is a collection from five bestselling and award-winning authors.
Set in the snowy town of Echo Ridge in upstate New York, these inspirational romances are sure to delight while you sip cocoa by the fire and listen to Christmas carols.

Amazon * Barnes and Noble * Kobo * iTunes * Smashwords
Add it to Goodreads

The Candy Counter Heiress by Lucy McConnell Amazon bestselling & award-winning author
Someday Reese Gates will own The Candy Counter at Kenworth's; but someday can't come fast enough when the manager threatens to bring in a national candy provider. Reese secretly takes matters into her own hands hoping to save her parents from additional worry and prove herself capable of running the company. Her deception deepens as she ropes computer guru Andy Edwards into helping her expand the business.  Reese wanted to shake things up, but she wasn't planning on her heart getting caught in the mix by Andy's stolen kisses. If she can hold it together until after Christmas, then she can reveal her successful online company and her feelings for Andy. Unfortunately for Reese, even the best laid plans can melt like chocolate. *

Christmas Makeover by Cami Checketts Amazon bestselling author
Chelsea Jamison has been infatuated with Drew Stirling longer than she's loved playing basketball, high-top sneakers, and the Knicks. Unfortunately, all Drew sees is the kid who kicked his trash in the high school free throw contest and not the girl whose heart breaks into a fast dribble when he's near.
Drew makes an unexpected visit home to Echo Ridge and their friendship picks up where they left off as they scheme to make a teenaged boy's Christmas dreams come true. When Chelsea realizes she's fallen for her best friend, she wonders if there is any hope of a relationship with Drew or if she's stuck in buddy-status for life. *

Soda Fountain Christmas by Connie E. Sokol Amazon bestselling author
Keira Kenworth has one focus this holiday season: save her father's old-time department store from bankruptcy. She is not focused on Tayton Wells, the tall, dark, and genius marketing guru from downtown New York, hired to make it happen. He is as doubtful that her nostalgic connect-the-town ideas will succeed as she is about his numbers-first plan. However, it's not just their different approaches that cause sparks to fly. Working together on a fast deadline to save the store before Christmas, the unspoken connection between them grows. But will the tough decisions they face drive them back to their separate worlds, or will they lead to the beginning of love? *

Hope for Christmas by Rachelle J. Christensen Amazon bestselling & award-winning author
Anika Fletcher hates Christmas--its promises of good tidings and hope for the future are as tinseled as the ornaments on Kenworth's Hope Tree. Despite her feelings, Anika wants to maintain her daughter's faith in the magic of the season and gladly accepts a second job working with the handsome Carlos Rodriguez to restore Kenworth's old fashioned soda fountain. Carlos is no stranger to hard times and slowly shares his life of light and joy with Anika as they work together. Just as her fragile soul begins to feel hope again, an ill-timed act of charity changes everything. Anika isn't sure who she can trust or if hope is worth nurturing--especially at Christmas when it's easy to enjoy a kiss and believe love can last longer than the season. *

One Winter Night by Heather Tullis Amazon bestselling author

Jonah Owens thought moving to Echo Ridge to open his art gallery would solve all of his problems. The need to sell his grandma's house adds an unexpected complication. It would be easier if his neighbor didn't have all those farm animals.
Kaya Feidler's family has owned their land for nearly a hundred years--long before the neighbors were there. There's no way she's giving up the animal therapy business she's been struggling to make profitable. She gets a temp job helping Jonah in the gallery. Spending time together is a recipe for romance, but can they overcome their own hangups to be more than friends? *

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enjoy the Season by Cami Checketts 

Tis the season to enjoy time with loved ones, reflect on the marvelous gift of our Savior's birth, reach out a helping hand to those in need, and cuddle in front of the tree with hot cocoa and cookies. Christmas is a wonderful time of year filled with joyful moments, but I find myself becoming so crazy busy I can hardly fit in a workout and who wants to eat health when the neighbors are bringing over fudge. I’m definitely a believer in savoring that fudge but I also thought of a few ways that I keep my body feeling somewhat healthy throughout the season.  

1- Only eat something if it is truly a Christmas treat. Just because they make Oreos with red and green filling does not mean they're an exclusive Christmas treat, but Aunt Abbie's peppermint dessert? That's worth savoring.

2 - Turn on Christmas music and dance. My boys think Mom spinning to the Nutcracker is hilarious.

3 - Go ice-skating, sledding, snow-shoeing, or cross-country skiing. Try out a new sport, the variety is great for improving physical fitness and the challenge is wonderful for your mind.

4 - Go for a walk outside. When the temperature is below 50 you burn more calories - it's worth it to freeze the tip of your nose but if it's so cold your eyelashes crystallize you'd better take it to the treadmill. 

5 - Bake your favorite treats, have a sample, then take them to all the neighbors. The visits will be almost as fun as the baked goods.

6 - Enjoy your family and forget about everything else. Play with your kids. Read Christmas stories and thrive on their childlike joy. Snuggle up with your sweetheart and burn some calories kissing in front of the tree.

7 - Focus on the Savior and following his example of love and service, the real reason we celebrate this blessed holiday, and the joy will continue throughout the new year.

Merry Christmas!

Cami Checketts
Facebook * Twitter

Friday, October 23, 2015

Part 4 of the Women Who Wrote Echo Ridge

Next up is my good friend, Heather. She and I started our publishing journey around the same time and have done several book signings together. I have always admired her and love her books too! It has been such a pleasure and privilege to work with Heather, so of course I want you to know more about her...

Bestselling Author Heather Tullis

Heather Tullis ebook pic HEATHER TULLIS has been reading romance for as long as she can remember and has been publishing in the genre since 2009. She has published more than twenty books. When she’s not dreaming up new stories to write, or helping out with her community garden, she enjoys playing with her dogs and cat, inventing new ways to eat chocolate,  and hanging out with her husband. You can connect with Heather at or at

On the Lighter Side

This has become my favorite part about the spotlight because I get to learn something new about each woman. When asked to give me 5 random facts about herself, this is what Heather said:
  1. I like to bake and make up recipes.
  2. I am an EMT-A and worked on a volunteer ambulance service for five years. 
  3. At one time, I owned over 150 chickens, ducks, geese, guineas, and other assorted fowl. (See, kindred spirits, Heather and I!)
  4. All four of my current pets are named after sweet foods.
  5. I once laid 1800 square foot of tile flooring in a building we owned. (What can't you do Heather?! She is pretty awesome!)

Snippet from One Winter Night

I know you were waiting for this one. Here's the snippet from One Winter Night by Heather Tullis:

Jonah stared at the invoice and wondered where he was going to come up with the money. Was there any prayer that he would make enough in the opening two weeks of the gallery to actually pay the incoming bills? Never mind the artists’ commission on top of the expenses. His friends were putting a lot of trust in him and he didn't want to let them, or himself, down. He didn't know how to do anything but draw and paint—or at least that's what he'd believed. When he lost that, he'd realized he had learned a few things at his college job, and there was this option.
If he hadn't made so many contacts and so many friends, the gallery wouldn't have been an option. Only now he had to make good on his promises, and with a little over a week until the gallery opened, he wasn't sure that was possible. If sheer desire could make it happen, he would have no need to worry, but that wasn't enough, and the prep on the building still wasn't done. He just hoped the advertising and word of mouth he'd been working on would bring people in—no matter what condition the building was in on opening day.
He filed the invoice to deal with after he'd made a deposit or two then walked back out to the showroom. The work to restore the space had finished only a week earlier, and he'd been busy framing pictures and uncrating items since. It was going slower than he had expected. Then again, maybe that had something to do with Sam—his nineteen-year-old employee, who apparently seemed to think the start time for work was flexible.
Jonah sighed and checked his watch again. He only trusted the kid to work for a couple more days, and then he'd have to let him go. Sam wasn't a terrible employee, but he wasn't exactly stellar, either, and he wasn't someone Jonah trusted to handle some of the more valuable pieces—especially after some of the less graceful moves the kid had made: knocking over displays, dropping one canvas, and breaking one side support, making Jonah re-stretch it.
Jonah got back to work on a frame for one of his own paintings, one he'd done a couple of years earlier. It had been far too long since he'd put paint to canvas. Or maybe it had just been too long since he'd been able to do anything that wasn't plain mediocre. He ached for the way painting used to make him feel.
He looked at the painting of a mother and child playing in the park and remembered the way he'd planned the longer sweeping strokes, the care he'd used to select the perfect shades of color and the way instinct, coupled with years of practice had guided his hand. This piece had gotten attention at the previous gallery where it had been placed, but it was one of three pieces that hadn't sold during the consignment period, and when Jonah had been unable to produce anything else, the gallery owner had offered to let him take them back. Now he wasn't sure if it was more painful to see it as a reminder of what he'd lost, or more hopeful as a reminder that he might, someday, have it again.
He was almost loathe to sell the three final paintings, though he desperately needed the money.
Like painting, framing was both art and science, and took his concentrated effort. Thankfully, it didn't seem to need as much of the muse as painting had, though he could become just as engrossed. Another thirty minutes passed before Jonah thought about Sam again, then, irritated, he picked up his phone to call the kid.
Sam answered the phone, his words tripping over themselves. “Oh, Jonah, I'm so sorry. I should have called, I just wasn't thinking.”
“You weren't thinking that you were nearly an hour late for work?” Jonah knew he wasn't succeeding very well at keeping the irritation from his voice.
“I was in an accident on the way there.” His voice held a slightly shaky quality. “I didn't think to call you. I'm so sorry. It's been crazy.”
Jonah set down the stack of matting samples, focusing closer on the conversation. “What happened, are you okay?”
“I broke my leg. The x-rays just came back. The doc says it's going to be a couple of weeks before I'm up and around. Even then I'll probably have crutches. I still have to get my cast. I'm sorry I won't be able to help you out any more.”
Jonah felt bad for his earlier irritation. “Oh, man, that's terrible. Do you have someone there for you?” Not that he could afford to lose even a little more work time if Sam was already out of the picture, but no one deserved to sit at the hospital by themselves.
“My sister is coming from Albany to pick me up. I'll visit her for a while. My car is totaled. Not sure how I'll get around. Idiot driver hit me at the intersection.”
“Don't worry about work. I'm sorry this happened to you. Take care of yourself.” Jonah wished him well and ended the call. He did feel bad for Sam, but dang it, he didn't know what he was going to do without the help. Sam was only hired on a temporary basis, but Jonah went from somewhat overwhelmed to super stressed in a heartbeat. “Eighteen-hour days, here I come.”
He remembered his grandma was expecting a visit in a little while and decided to put it off today. She would understand if he had to change his visiting schedule to every-other day until the gallery was up and running. The thought made him feel bad, but he didn't have much choice at this point.
He picked up the phone to call her.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Part 3 of the Women Who Wrote Echo Ridge

The Echo Ridge Christmas Anthology (available here for the introductory price of 99 cents!) has been a wonderful project and experience. What has made it so great is the challenge of coordinating stories, characters and setting with four other authors. You would think--because authors are usually solitary creatures who disappear into caves and imaginary worlds--that we wouldn't play well with others. However, working with these women has been quite the opposite. They are giving, kind, talented beyond measure in more areas than I can count, and--above all else--they are dedicated to their families. Because I've admired them, I wanted to give you all a chance to get to know them better too. Therefore, I've put together a spotlight of each woman and I'm going to post them here each day. Today, the third spotlight post features

Bestselling Author Connie Sokol.

thelivingroom_083 Connie Sokol is a mother of seven, (that alone should win her an award!!) and a favorite local and national speaker for over fifteen years. She is a TV core contributor “Studio 5 with Brooke Walker” and a national blogger for She is one of seven female hosts of The Living Room, an online value-based radio show where they dish on life, loving, and learning ( (AKA total celebrity!) Mrs. Sokol is a bestselling author who has written 14 books, including her fiction: Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology, and Caribbean Crossroads; and her nonfiction: What Every 6th Grader Needs to Know, Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, Simplify & Savor the Season, Create a Powerful Life Plan, and 40 Days with the Savior. (See what I mean about talent!) Mrs. Sokol marinates in time spent with her family and eating decadent treats. For her TV segments, blog, podcasts and more, visit You can connect with Connie at the following links: Website, Twitter, Facebook

On the lighter side

I asked Connie to tell me five random thoughts about herself or her Echo Ridge story and this is what she said:
  1. The idea was born at a writing conference speaker's table with Rachelle, Christina, and myself
  2. My husband is from upstate New York, where the story is based
  3. Although I've penned 13 other books, this is my first novella
  4. I write in between raising seven kids --um yeah, this isn't fiction! She's amazing!
  5. I'm originally from Scotland and this year traveled back to Europe for two fabulous weeks! *Such a beautiful country that I hope to return to one day!

Snippet of Soda Fountain Christmas

Sharing a brief sample of Connie's writing from Soda Fountain Christmas is always a treat. Here you go, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

“Bravo,” Cecilia glanced at her file folder. “Beautiful speech. I can’t imagine how many times you ran through it but it’s not going to happen. I’ve already called in the heavy artillery.”
“The what? Who?” Not another “sure-bet” one-time hire.
“A marketing genius, graduated summa cum laude from Yale, and works in a marketing agency in my old downtown.”
“As in New York?”
“Yes, that downtown. He knows how to make the numbers really crunch and that’s what we need this Christmas, Miss Kenworth. Or the store, you, and every employee here is done.” She leaned closer, taking off her reading glasses. “No touchy-feely Hallmark campaign is going to save this sinking ship or get the numbers we need. And certainly not a Kenworth’s poster-child-turned-marketing assistant. Do I make myself clear? Tayton Wells is the answer to our problems, with a fat bonus waiting at the end of the rainbow to ensure success.”
Before Keira could respond to the rudeness, Cecilia looked past her shoulder to the reception area and smiled. “Ah, there’s Tayton now. My noon appointment,” she emphasized clearly.
Keira turned to the three people waiting in the sofa and table area. A dark-haired broad-shouldered man sat in semi-profile to her, texting on a phone. His briefcase lay on the coffee table in front of him. Keira pressed her lips together. Rich, “downtown”, and ready to glam-up her father’s beloved store right out of memory.
Not this time.
Keira spun on her heels and marched over to him though his head remained down. “Mr. Wells, Keira Kenworth. Excuse me for being frank but I have to be absolutely clear up front. I’m sure our little hick city of Echo Ridge can’t compare with the savoir faire of say, 5th Avenue, but there’s one thing you should know.” She glanced back at Cecilia, who stood in a rare moment of open mouth and no sound. So what if she was fired. She’d think about that later.
The man looked up from his phone and glanced around the room as if to be sure she spoke to him. Keira glanced at Cecilia but plowed on. “That’s right, I’m talking to you. No Neiman-Marcus suit ideas will make a bigger impact on our store than the old-fashioned strategy of creating a family-friendly place to shop. A place that connects people. A worthy cause that fills their hearts, not just their gift lists. I can guarantee”—okay, that was stretching it, but in for a penny…--“that not one of your bottom-line glitzy concepts are going to fly in this town. Not long term. It doesn’t work that way here.” Her voice rose. “And I will work night and day to prove that the heart of Christmas is the real secret to saving this store.”
Shirley smacked her gum. “Oh, sugar, that’s a whopper speech right there.”
Keira’s chest heaved slightly while standing her ground. The man smiled—or was it a smirk? Then he stood up, all six foot six tall of him. He smiled openly as he appraised her. “For the record, I’m not—”
Another man suddenly stood next to Keira. “Are you looking for me?”
A deep baritone voice. Like warm rushing water. Keira turned to her right. A well-built dark-haired man in a nice-fitting burgundy jersey and snug jeans stood with a hint of a smile. “I’m Tayton Wells.”
“You? But I—” Keira willed her face to remain neutral but could feel the tinge of red spreading from her cheeks to her earlobes. Glancing back at the original man, he stuck out his hand. “Drew Stirling. Remember me?”
“Wait, Drew? As in our Echo Ridge basketball legend? I didn’t recognize you in a suit. I mean, not wearing sweats.”
Articulate, Keira.
Tayton stepped slightly in front of Drew, necessitating their handshake to break. Though tall, Tayton only rose to his shoulders. “I apologize for the confusion between people. As for business attire, the driver ran late so we didn’t have time to stop at the resort first. Are we meeting with Ms. Grange right now?”
“Not we. Just you.” Cecilia had walked over to them. “Drew, I’ll be with you soon, touch base with accounting. Tayton, in here. Keira, go make yourself useful.” With that she turned on her red heels and entered her office.
Dismissed. The redness in Keira’s face burned. Drew grabbed his briefcase and with a nod and smile headed toward the open office door. Tayton feigned gentlemanly interest in his duffel bag while Keira shook off the embarrassment, holding her work folder close to her chest.
He stood. “Sounds like we’ll meet later then.”
“Apparently.” She shrugged. “Possibly.” Turning to go, she looked back, surprised to find him watching her. “I meant what I said, Mr. Wells. If we have to go toe to toe, I’m in the ring.”
He watched her for a moment longer than he should have then nodded with the start of a smile. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Not knowing what to do with that, Keira walked through the open door and into the nearest restroom to calm down. She forced herself not to beat her hands on the door.
What an utter failure of a morning. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Part 2 of the Women Who Wrote Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology

The Echo Ridge Christmas Anthology (available here for the introductory price of 99 cents!) has been an incredible experience! I can't praise these women enough! Each of them has such great skill in writing but also in all areas of life. The amount of talent in this group is inspiring and mind-boggling. I feel so grateful to have my name beside each of them. I'm taking some time to spotlight each of the four authors who joined me as part of the anthology. Today I'd like to tell you a little bit about ...

Bestselling Author Cami Checketts.

FIL6891 Cami Checketts is an idealist who dreams of helping children around the world but can't keep up with the four in her own home. She regularly donates part of her proceeds to charity and has a heart of pure gold. (Check out this link to help children in need: Cami lives in a beautiful valley in Northern Utah where she enjoys running, biking, and swimming during the two months of the year it isn't snowing. She recently completed the St. George Marathon and we couldn't be prouder of her. You can check out Cami's website and find out about her recent releases at or or

On the Lighter Side

Here are five random facts about Cami:
  1. Cami is the proud mother of four future and present lacrosse stars.
  2. Cami has run three marathons.
  3. Cami has amputated three of her fingers (two were stitched back on and aren't too horrific looking). Though she wouldn't recommend amputation, it is a great conversation starter with four-year olds.
  4. Cami has milked a cow with her bare hands.
  5. When Cami met her husband, he asked her friend to, "Introduce me to my wife." She laughed and hasn't stopped laughing since.

Snippet from Christmas Makeover

No author highlight would be complete without a sample of their writing so here is a Snippet from Christmas Makeover written by Cami Checketts.

“Drew?” Chelsea’s breath hitched. As in my dream man who I’ve loved since before Jessica started waxing my unibrow at sleepovers?
Drew ended the call, put his phone in his suit pocket, and spun to face her. “Chels?”
Chelsea didn’t know if she was in a daydream or real life. The warm look in Drew’s eyes and excitement in his voice sent quivers throughout her body. It wasn’t a dream because he didn’t lift her off the ground and kiss her passionately, but the lingering hug he gave her was worth writing lengthy journal entries about.  
“What are you doing in town?” Chelsea asked.
“What are you doing shopping?” Drew asked at the same time.
They both laughed awkwardly. Kiera arched an eyebrow and turned back to her office. “See you two later.”
“Bye,” they both said then stared at each other again.
Chelsea broke the moment, turning and walking toward the center of the store. Drew fell into step beside her. She nudged his bicep with her shoulder, he was one of the few men who made her feel short. “I haven’t seen you in six years and all you can ask is what am I doing shopping?”
Drew chuckled and she just had to look again. His throaty chuckle was still the same, maybe a little deeper. His brown sugar eyes and wavy dark hair hadn’t changed much, but his face had matured, if possible he was even more handsome than her fantasies about him, and oh, those lips, those perfectly sculpted lips. She withheld a sigh. If only he spent half as much thought on her as she did on him. Men never think that hard about their buddies and since Chelsea could outscore Drew on the court, the only time he probably spent thinking about her was when he strategized ways to get around her defense.
Drew turned to her, taking one of her hands in his. “You look great, Chels.”
A jolt of warmth raced through her body. She inhaled quickly and his spicy cologne messed with her brain waves. She leaned toward him before her good sense caught up with her hormones. It was a wonder that he didn’t seem at all affected by the connection because it was strong enough to wipe out a power grid. Wait, this was Drew. Of course he wasn’t affected by the connection, he thought of her as a little sister. No, that wasn’t quite right. He’d have to admit both of her chromosomes were X to think of her as a sister.  

Monday, October 12, 2015

Celebrate Bookmarked Bargains with 5 Books by Rachelle and Win Big!
People! You don't want to miss this sale. I have four books featured in this sale and they are all for a screaming good deal. It's that time of year when you'll want to stock up on books for this cold weather! Reading time!
Visit to see all of my books on sale plus a great lineup of other titles from many fabulous authors!


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