Woman@Heart

Musings on Life, Love and Lefovers

Promises To Keep

I’ve waited nearly a year to share this exciting news.

PROMISES TO KEEP
Now available for pre-order. Releases on March 23!

Promisesto Keep.paperback

Here’s a sneak peek of the second book in the Begin Again series featuring the Jameson sisters.

Love, Secrets, and Lies…

Kate Jameson married the man of her dreams. Her real-life hero. A man who wouldn’t abandon her the way her father had—or so she thought. Weeks after their son’s birth, her husband is suddenly pulled away for a business trip that takes him out of the country. But something isn’t right. His truths aren’t adding up. Kate digs into his past, determined to learn what he’s hiding. But unraveling this endless mystery draws her into a maze of lies, family secrets and deadly consequences.

For twenty years, undercover CIA agent Eric Wiley lived for one reason—to avenge his parents’ brutal deaths. Until he marries Kate. Eric promises her a life of love and commitment, but competing promises constantly collide, offering him little chance of keeping either. When an informant lures him to Mexico, Eric thinks his goal of apprehending an elusive killer will be realized. Leaving his family for a few short days, weeks at the most, would be worth the prize.

Can this final mission bring closure and allow Eric to be the husband Kate deserves and the father he yearns to be? Or will their destiny remain mired in the secrets of his past, leaving them powerless to embrace their present?

The eBook is available for pre-order at these sites. The paperback is available on March 23.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Kobo
iBooks – coming soon!

Visit www.clairefadden.com to read an excerpt.

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RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR

By the time the last of the sugar cookies are eaten and all the gift have been unwrapped, we barely have a chance to jot down a resolution or two and reflect on how quickly 2017 has passed. Another year is coming to an end and it’s time to usher in a new one.

There are lots of ways to welcome in the New Year. Your family might stay up until midnight to bang pots and pans, pop open a bottle of bubbly and watch the ball drop in New York’s Times Square. Many believe that sharing a kiss at midnight is a sign of good luck.shutterstock_643138579

For some folks, the New Year signals a day to relax, watch football and unwind from the flurry of holiday activity. My husband Nick and I review our successes with last year’s resolutions before writing down 10 attainable goals for the coming year.

People from all corners of the world participate in many of customs and traditions, unique to their culture and history. Here’s a sampling of some memorable and unique ways to say good-bye to old Father Time and greet Baby New Year. Perhaps you’ll add one or two to your family celebration.

GOOD LUCK GRAPES 

If you are in Spain or Portugal for New Year’s Eve, you can share in the local custom of selecting twelve grapes from a bunch. Then as the clock strikes midnight, eat them one at a time making a wishing with each grape as a way to bring good luck for the next twelve months. Latin American countries share this custom. In Northern Portugal children go caroling from home to home and are given treats and coins.

DOWN UNDER CELEBRATIONS 

In Australia and New Zealand, New Year’s Eve falls when summer is in full-swing. Fireworks symbolize the crossover from New Year’s Eve, marking the end of the old year, to New Year’s Day, which signaling the beginning of the New Year. The largest and most elaborate fireworks occur at midnight in Sydney Harbor, an iconic Australian landmark. On this night, the harbor is lit with spectacular fireworks, where hundreds of cultures unite for the Harbor of Light parade.

Because New Zealand is located close to the International Date Line, it is one of the first countries in the world to welcome the New Year. It is celebrated as a day to relax, visit family and friends, perhaps attend a horse racing carnival or other summer day fairs. Instead of football, New Zealanders watch cricket.

EUROPEAN FESTIVITIES 

January 1st is an important date in Greece because it is not only the first day of the New Year but also St. Basil’s Day. A traditional Greek celebration features Vasilopita, a cake with a silver or gold coin baked inside. On New Year’s Day, the cake is sliced as a blessing to the home and to bring good luck for the New Year. The first piece is for St Basil, the second for the house, the next for the most senior member of the household down to the youngest member and often includes absent family members. Whoever finds the coin in their piece of cake will be lucky for the next year.

To predict the future, families in Germany and Austria melt a small amount of lead by holding a flame under a tablespoon, then pour the lead into a bowl or bucket of cold water. The resulting pattern is interpreted to predict the coming year. A heart or ring shape means a wedding, a ball means luck will roll your way and a pig signifies plenty of food in the year ahead.

SOUTH OF THE BORDER  

Bolivians who want to travel in the New Year must take their luggage to the door of the house or go upstairs. Another custom is to wear your underwear backwards: Red is to be lucky in love; yellow is for wealth. At midnight, Bolivians turn the underwear frontwards symbolizing moving forward into the New Year. Some Bolivian families make beautiful little wood or straw dolls to hang outside their homes to bring good luck.

Brazil may be the most celebrated locale to welcome in the New Year. Millions of people from around the world travel to Rio de Janeiro’s shores, especially in Copacabana to experience the majestic fireworks light up the sky above the beaches. Your good luck will increase if you can jump over seven different waves while making your New Year’s wishes, one for each wave. Brazilians believe lentils signify wealth, so on the first day of the New Year they eat lentil soup or lentils and rice.

At midnight on New Year’s Eve, Mexican families open the front door and symbolically sweep out the old year before tossing coins on the ground and sweeping them into the house wishing for prosperity in the coming year. To symbolize renewal, Mexicans also throw a bucket of water out the window.

AULD LANG SYNE 

The most popular New Year’s Eve song, is actually an old Scottish song. Poet Robert Burns transcribed and refined the lyrics after hearing them sung by an old man He published the song in the 1796 edition “Scots Musical Museum.” “Auld Lang Syne” translates as “old long since” and means “times gone by.” Bandleader Guy Lombardo popularized the song in 1929 and turned it into a New Year’s classic.

The birthplace of “Auld Lang Syne” is also the home of Hogmanay, the rousing Scottish New Year’s celebration. Shortly after midnight on New Year’s Eve, neighbors pay visits to each other and impart New Year’s wishes. They are called “first footers” and traditionally, bring along a small gift. You will be especially lucky if a tall, dark and handsome man is the first to enter your house after the New Year is rung in. The Scottish also believe that you should clear your debts before “the bells” ring at midnight.       

HOW TO SAY HAPPY NEW YEAR

Brazilian: feliz ano novo

Brazilian Portuguese: feliz ano novo no brasileiro

Chinese (Cantonese): Sun nien fai lok

Chinese (Mandarin): Xin nian yu kuai

Czechoslavakia: Scastny Novy Rok

Finnish: Onnellista Uutta Vuotta

French: Bonne année

German: glückliches neues Jahr

Greek: ef̱tychisméno to néo étos

Hawaiian: Hau’oli makahiki hou

Italian: Buon anno

Portuguese: Feliz Ano Novo

Philippines (Tagalog): Manigong Bagong Taon

Spanish: Feliz Año Nuevo; Prospero Ano Nuevo

 

Book Of The Day – Love At Last

I enjoyed this story. A Christmas miracle of love.

Sharon C. Cooper

Hi All!

Today my Christmas novella, LOVE AT LAST, is the “Book of the Day” at Ereader News Today! And even better, it’s only 99 cents for a limited time! If you haven’t picked up this enjoyable holiday read, now’s a great time to do so!

About Love at Last:

Carolyn Jenkins has never had a problem getting a man, but keeping one is another story. After two failed marriages and numerous short-term relationships, she’s ready to wave the white flag and give up on love. Yet, with Christmas quickly approaching, she dreads spending the holiday alone. Will a chance encounter with a handsome stranger make all of her Christmas wishes come true?

After thirty years of a nearly perfect marriage, widower Lincoln Richwood struggles to move on with his life. The idea of dating at his age seems daunting … until he meets the vivacious Carolyn Jenkins. Normally…

View original post 57 more words

Whose Home for the Holidays?

Ah love. It starts out innocently enough. You say yes to dinner and a movie. He brings flowers and chocolates. There are romantic walks on the beach. And before you know it, you’re married. The days of staring lovingly into each other’s eyes are replaced with scanning the food section for bargains and listening for the sound of the shower turning off, so you can take your turn.

You’re occupied with many challenges as the two of you begin a life together. So many decisions to make: Cable or satellite? Pepperoni or sausage? Over-easy or scrambled? Foreign or domestic?

Days, weeks, months pass. Miscellaneous facts are gingerly revealed: He likes Brussels sprouts. She thinks birthday cake is a breakfast food. Both of you have trouble staying awake for the 10 o’clock news. Deals are reluctantly made: He agrees to read the sports section until she’s finished with the front page. She’ll watch Entourage if he’ll sit through reruns of The Office. Then, your newly formed family of two becomes three, four and maybe even five.

In my case, over eight quick years, the duo of Nick + Claire expanded into a quintet that included Shawn, Jake and Seth. Of course, more questions arise, more choices need to be made. Cloth or disposable diapers? Public or private school? Soccer or taekwondo? As fledgling parents, we made it through these either/ors while learning about raising sons. shutterstock_11570470

But every November the same question arose; one that never seemed to have an easy answer. Where are we spending Thanksgiving and Christmas this year? At your parents’ place or mine?

This guilt-inducing query is best avoided when you’re dating. Discuss religion, how you’ll vote in the next primary, which pro football team you’ll cheer for, but tiptoe around this explosive topic.

Like lots of young couples, we tried to appease everyone by attempting to be in two places at one time. We’d go to my mom’s house for an early dinner and his folks’ place for dessert. Playing beat-the-clock when Thanksgiving Day is limited to 24 hours is tough. The same is true of Christmas Day. There’s not enough time to enjoy the holiday if you’re spending most of it crisscrossing the county. We’d barely taste a forkful of candied yams and cranberry stuffing at my mom’s table before we were loading ourselves back into the car.

I can still hear the voice of a 6-year-old Jake yelling from the backseat as we drove to our next stop: “There goes the pumpkin pies.” In our haste to be on time, the desserts had been set down but not secured. They slid aimlessly across the van floor and slammed into the back of the front passenger seat, making a gooey-looking burnt sienna splash across the cloth upholstery.

Scurrying from house to house was how we spent the next several Thanksgivings and Christmases. Inwardly I wanted to mount a stay-at-home-for-the-holidays coup. The thought of packing up three kids, two car seats, a green bean casserole, and sundry other items had lost its appeal. Maybe I had spent too many Christmas Eves staying up until 2 a.m. helping Nick put together a 350-piece something whose box has innocently cautioned: “some assembly required.”

Exhausted toward the end of one of these marathon holiday events, I collapsed on the couch where other similarly fatigued parents grouped. My brother-in-law, Leo sitting nearby listened as I lamented the craziness of the season. He smiled and nodded knowingly. His family had just spent their day under similar circumstances. “Next year, why don’t we move our get-together to the day after Christmas?” he proposed to no one in particular. A huge sigh swept through the room, followed by cheers of relief. “Why hadn’t we thought of this before?” asked a sister-in-law. “Where does it say that we have to scrunch everything into one 24-hour day?”

The meaningful parts of our celebration would be the same; they would just occur a day later. Pop-pop would still be the center of attention as he donned his Santa hat to pass out gifts. The grandkids would wait wide-eyed to hear their name called before eagerly opening their presents. The overabundance of sugar cookies, popcorn balls and fudge would get a second chance to find a welcome palate.shutterstock_525751432

A once stress-filled, jammed-packed ritual was forever transformed into an extended familyfest. Leisurely, all of us kids-at-heart could delight in the blessings that come when you’re part of a large family, minus the harried disposition. No one would have to keep an eye on the clock, poised to rush out the door for another gathering. As a bonus, we all got an extra day to anticipate the fun.

The years have passed since we could look forward to sipping a cup of Nana’s hot apple cider, gobbling a scoop of Sitie’s pistachio fluff or listening to Uncle George regale us  with stories, while we laughed as though hearing his tales for the first time.

It’s the sweetest memories that last. And isn’t that really the best part of the holidays.

The Power of the Story Inside Us All

During the last century, I filled my college hours in Dr. Hartung’s news reporting 101 and Mr. Krumming’s Media Law classes, fascinated with fact-finding, spelling and grammar. Who could ask for more?

Well, San Diego State University administrators can, and did. In those days, SDSU required J-school undergrads to have a minor, whether it be finance, history or art. They probably knew the odds of getting a writing job were similar to winning the California State Lottery.

So, as many of my fellow students, I set about to select a minor. If I knew then what I know now, I would have invested my time in comparative literature or marketing. But psychology captured my imagination and units. So, I learned about Freud’s id, ego and superego as well as the behaviorism theories of Pavlov and Skinner. Surprisingly, a lot of  my journalism classmates shared my affinity to explore the inner workings of our minds, but I never understood why.

Then I read “The Power of a Story” in a recent issue of Real Simple magazine. I now realize the path I chose was meant to be traversed. There’s nothing happenstance about my choice. In the article, Jennifer King Lindley intersects psychology and plot twists in a fresh, creative way. And since this storyteller lives on the corner of character arc and classical conditioning, I was immediately taken with the premise.

According to Lindley, “We naturally think of our own lives as stories, psychologists say. Changing the way you tell yours can help you handle whatever plot twists come your way.” In her article, I learned about an emerging field of study–narrative psychology. Too bad that minor wasn’t offered at San Diego State when I was a junior.

Hope you find “The Power of a Story” as fascinating as I did.

https://www.magzter.com/article/Home/Real-Simple/The-Power-Of-A-Story

New Release – Proposal for Love and Giveaway

My copy showed up this morning on my Kindle. Can’t wait to read.

Sharon C. Cooper

Hi All, it’s release day! Woo hoo!

PROPOSAL FOR LOVE, book 2 of the Jenkins & Sons Construction series is now available!

Nathaniel Jenkins-Moore never allows romantic entanglements to get in the way of running Jenkins & Sons Construction. That is until the woman who ripped out his heart crashes back into his life. She wants to leave the past in the past, and though Nate knows a thing or two about rebuilding strong foundations, her betrayal still haunts him. He can’t forget. He won’t forgive. She can’t be trusted. But why does his heart still beat double-time whenever she’s near?

Liberty Stewart has been living a lie. Masking her shredded self-esteem and trying to overcome the emotional torment inflicted by her abusive ex-husband, she’s ready to rebuild her life. But just when she thinks she’s on track, her current assignment brings her face to face with the only man she’s…

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What’s Your Rush?

shutterstock_392375377It happened again today. I was late meeting a friend for coffee. As I drove around the parking lot searching for a spot, I caught a glimpse of her sitting at the sidewalk café. Not wasting time waiting for me to show up, she was cleaning out her purse. I apologized for my tardiness as she gave me a hug. “It’s no big deal,” Margaret said letting me off the hook. “I’ve been wanting to clean my purse for a while anyway, but I never could find the time.”

The frustrating thing is, I shouldn’t have been late in the first place. I was ready to walk out the door 15 minutes early. But since I had extra time, I tossed a load in the washing machine and wrote an overdue thank-you note. Presto, now I was running behind.

I start out on time, but for some reason, being early often makes me late. It’s like my day is 10 minutes shorter than everyone else’s. The truth is, being a chronic multi-tasker (aka woman/mother/sitie) has impaired my time-management skills. Even though I’ve adopted “Be in the moment” as my personal mantra, more often than not, my actions are focused on reaching the destination instead of enjoying the journey.

My husband doesn’t classify me as a woman-in-constant-motion, even though Nick is often the benefactor of my never-waste-a-moment mentality. To him, I move about as fast as — well — as a wife. So several weeks ago when I got pulled over for speeding, he was shocked. In fact, since my speedometer rarely hits 60, Nick agreed that my car must have been the only one the officer could catch. At the time, my mind was on where I was headed; not how fast I was getting there. Luckily the patrolman let me off with a stern warning. Maybe I reminded him of his own wife.

I blame my scheduling shortcomings on a high regard for the value of time. I’m committed to squeezing every second out of the day as if I’m crushing oranges so every drop lands in the glass. I know time is precious and I don’t want to waste it. But somehow in my quest to get the most from every moment, I’m often rushed, segmented and rarely able to strike a reasonable balance between using time wisely and staying in the moment.

Just a few weeks ago, while going through the afternoon mail, I noticed a long-awaited check for a freelance writing assignment. I opened the envelope, looked at the amount, smiled and then — as any busy woman and mother would do — went on to finish a variety of chores. About a half-hour later I realized I had misplaced the check. Panicked, I retraced my steps. Wow, I had done a lot in those 30 minutes — paid some bills, vacuumed the familyroom, dropped off magazines at the neighbor’s house, fed our dogs, Bandit, Jersey Girl and Bowie. Still, I couldn’t find the check.  I was discouraged about losing my hard-earned money, but what really bugged me was how much time I’d wasted looking for that envelope. In my haste to get more done, I’d accomplished less and I was more stressed for my efforts.

About an hour later I found the check, tucked inside a stack of papers filed for a future writing assignment. But the reality hit me. Doing several things at once can actually cost more time than it saves — and it doesn’t do much to strengthen long-standing friendships, either.

I already have a few changes in mind to get me on the path of doing less and enjoying it more.

I’m told the best way to solve any problem is to acknowledge it and then take small steps toward improvement. I already have a few changes in mind to get me on the path of doing less and enjoying it more. For starters, I could replace quick showers with an occasional lingering bubble bath or eat a real breakfast instead of bites of an untoasted Poptart. On days I really want to splurge, I’ll actually read an entire magazine instead of skimming through the pages and ignore that little voice adding items to my “to-do” list.

There’s one improvement I’ll definitely make the next time Margaret agrees to meet me for coffee. I’ll leave the house 15 minutes early — no checking e-mail or devising last-minute menu plans.  This time she’ll find me sitting at the café table with nothing more to do than sip a warm, chocolatey mocha, happily awaiting her arrival.

 

 

 

 

 

Dancing in the Baron’s Shadow

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I love an engaging story. When that story also give me a history lesson, I’ve hit the bonus zone. That’s just how I felt after finishing Fabiene Josaphat’s novel. The story is set in Haiti. It’s 1965 and Francois Duvalier, AKA Papa Doc, is ruling the country with brutality. I knew very little about this country or about this dictator’s unrelenting violence to control the impoverished island nation.

This book centers around two brothers, Raymond and Nicolas L’Eveille, caught in the country’s misery and changing times. Raymond and Nicolas are as different as two men can be, in their intellect, goals, desires and dreams. In spite of their vast differences, Raymond is compelled to help his younger brother who has been arrested by the Haitian secret police and thrown into a hellish prison.

I connected with both men and their struggles, but what kept me reading was their deep, unwavering love of family.

 

Release Day – Breaking Bad Box Set!

Wow, what a great deal. Mine is already on my Kindle!

Sharon C. Cooper

YES! It’s release day for Breaking Bad: 14 Tales of Lawless Love Box Set!

Breaking Bad is a compilation of fourteen interracial stories of lawless love by fourteen dynamic authors. Included in the set is everything from contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and fantasy to name a few. All for the low price of $0.99! *Limited Time*

Breaking Bad Blurb:
Nice guys finish first, said no one ever. But we guarantee you’ll finish this collection filled with dark and dangerous alphas who obey no one, play by their own rules, and least of all allow anything to come between them and what they desire most. Download these 14 tales of Lawless Love and you’ll never look at thieves, hit men, bounty hunters or ex-cons the same way again. Break bad and our sexy-as-sin bad boys will steal your heart.
*
Here’s a sneak peek of my contribution to the box set:

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Maybe This Time — FREE

To kick off the summer beach-read season, download Maybe This Time for FREE, today, June 28.  And remember to leave a review, like it or not!

Enjoy your summer.

 

An excerpt from Maybe This Time:

Eric swiped at grains of brown sugar on Kate’s cheek. “You do everything with passion, don’t you?” he whispered not wanting to interrupt the instructor and the other eight students clustered in the kitchen of a gourmet supply store. Scents of soy sauce, rosemary and lemon zest competed for the attention of his nostrils, but Kate’s perfume won that battle. When Trish suggested taking Kate to a cooking class, he thought she had lost her mind.

But Trish was a woman and should know what women like, so he gave it a shot not expecting recipes, ingredients and measuring to be this much fun. Food was the language of love. He’d have to tell Trish she’d been right. On second thought, no way. She’d never let him forget.

“My mom was a good cook,” Kate replied, continuing to stir her sauce rhythmically. “I never really bothered to learn more than how to boil an egg and make a grilled cheese sandwich. I’m surprised at how interesting all this is.”

“We do look great in our aprons, I have to admit,” Eric said. Kate looked amazing in whatever she was wearing, the cobalt blue apron made her green eyes appear bluer. He loved how whatever she wore transformed her eyes from a warm amber to a vibrant pacific blue. Sadly the apron also covered the neckline of her knit sweater. He couldn’t wait for class to end to enjoy the full effect of the clinging fabric.

Kate carefully poured the glaze over the salmon and turned to put their combined effort into the oven. “This is going to taste good.”

“Don’t forget to set your timers,” Chef Andre reminded the class, but Eric knew that prod was intended for him and Kate.

“Are you always this innovative with your dates?” Kate asked before taking a sip of wine.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, we went to the fair. And now a cooking class. It’s like you googled best first dates or something.”

Eric looked away.

“You did, didn’t you.” Kate shoved his arm playfully.

Eric nodded, avoiding the glare from a forty-ish woman seated at the cooking station in front of the class. She hung on every word from Chef Andre as though learning the wonders of whisking would improve her life. Maybe they would. Seemed to be working for him. What Eric knew for certain was that the woman’s brown sugar maple glaze would turn out much better than theirs and she didn’t appreciate the chatter of young love.

He put his finger in front of his lips, and slid his gaze from the woman to Kate, signaling that they were a disruption. If they didn’t cease and desist their conversation, everyone’s cedar plank salmon would be ruined.

 

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