Welcome back to another great day at The Mustard Seed. Anne K. Albert is with us sharing about what love means to her. She's also doing a book giveaway. Hope you can stay and chat!

I wrote a short story about that very topic, and would like to share it with you. It’s called CAROLINE’S GIFT. 

“Grandpa’s an old fart,” my granddaughter declared. Plunking her eleven-year old body down at the kitchen table, Caroline snatched a chocolate chip cookie from the plate and took a bite.

Reaching for my oven mitts, I wondered what had happened to bring about this sudden change of heart. Up until now, her relationship with her grandfather had been more or less storybook perfect.

“What’s the matter?” I asked. “Won’t he let you watch your favourite television game show?”

“It’s not that,” she replied, lowering her gaze.

I opened the oven door and checked the second batch of cookies. They needed a few more minutes, so I reset the timer, slipped off the mitts, and joined her at the table. “Then, what is it?”

“I asked him what he was going to get you for Valentine’s Day and all he said was ‘hrrhump’. He also said something about it being just another marketing ploy to get hold of his hard earned cash.”

“Oh.” I swallowed my smile. “Is that all?”

“Is that all?” she repeated, her eyes wide. “Did you hear what I just said? Grandpa’s not going to buy you a Valentine’s Day card. And he’s not going to get you a box of chocolates either. He’s a cheap, old, grumpy fart.”

“Oh, he’s all that, and more,” I agreed. “But why do you care what he gets me for Valentine’s Day?”

She nibbled the last of her cookie, catching a trail of melted chocolate chip with her tongue. “We’re studying it at school. You know. How the day got started. Who it’s named after. That kind of thing.”

“Sounds interesting,” I said, nudging the plate toward her.

She spied the offerings, while her hand hovered in mid-air. “It is. Did you know that it was named after Saint Valentine? That he was a Christian priest living in Rome and that he was martyred in 270 AD?”

I shook my head, and she continued.

“Around the 1800s people started sending Valentine’s Day cards to each other. Now, it’s celebrated around the world. It’s the one day of the year when people show their love for each other.”

“Ahhh,” I said. “So, you think that because Grandpa isn’t going to buy me anything, he doesn’t love me?”

Caroline winced ever so slightly, but the gesture, along with the tinge of red spreading across her cheeks, told me I’d hit the nail on the head.

“Love’s not just about buying someone chocolates or flowers or giving them a card on a certain day of the year,” I said. “It’s a whole lot more than that.”

Selecting a cookie, she waved it at me. “You’re just saying that ‘cos you’re stuck with him.”

“I’m stuck with your grandfather because I want to be stuck with him. And I don’t need an annual reminder or random act of kindness to tell me he loves me.”


I leaned across the table, and patted her arm. “Love’s like life, hon. It’s lived day to day. Often without fanfare, and devoid of glitz and glamour. It’s the little things we do for each other that means the most.”

She wrinkled her nose. A sure sign she was unconvinced.

“It’s like these cookies,” I said, tilting my head toward the plate. “I bake them whenever you come for a visit because you like them. But more than that, I make them because I love you.”

“You like ‘em, too,” she said.

“Yes, I do. But I can’t eat them anymore because of my diabetes. Just like I can’t eat candy or chocolate, either. So, tell me, does it really make any sense for Grandpa to buy me something I can’t have? It’d be like you giving that cute little boy in your class, Tommy Roberts, a peanut butter cup on Valentine’s Day.”

“I don’t like him, Grandma!” Caroline declared. “Besides, he’s allergic.”

“Exactly. That’s why it’s much better to show how much you care in another way.” I pointed to the fresh floral arrangement sitting center stage on the kitchen island. “See those carnations? Your grandfather picked them up yesterday when he went to the grocery store for milk. He got them for me.”

“He did?”

I nodded.

She munched on the rest of her cookie in silence, and then asked. “Was it your birthday or something?”

“No. It was just a plain, old, regular day like any other. He bought them because he knows I like them. Two weeks ago he brought home a bouquet of chrysanthemums. The time before that it was dahlias. The point is, your Grandpa’s been giving me flowers since before we were married. Back then, we didn’t have a lot of money for extras, so he’d pick a bunch of dandelions, daisies or lilacs from the side of the road. The type of flower, or how much they cost, isn’t important. It’s what they represent--in other words, your grandfather’s love for me--that is.” I paused to let that sink in.

“What’s he doing downstairs anyway?” I asked. “Watching TV?”

“Nope. Folding laundry.”

“Ah,” I said, leaning back in the chair. “I love watching a man do housework. It’s so sexy.”

“Grandma!” Caroline slapped her hands over her ears and scrunched her eyes shut. “That’s disgusting.”

“No, it’s not,” I replied with a grin. “It’s romantic. And that’s just another way I know your grandfather loves me.”

She opened her eyes and lowered her hands to her lap.

I smiled. “Don’t you get it, hon? Love isn’t something you receive one day out of the year. It’s the little things, those wonderful little cumulative actions people do for each other throughout the year that really count. It’s being supportive and respectful of each other’s dreams and aspirations. It’s a kind word, a cheery good morning, a helping hand, and a goodnight kiss that says you’re loved.”

I paused to take a breath, and then glanced toward the basement door. “I’ve had fifty wonderful years with that old fart, as you call him. He loves me more than life itself, as I do him. I wouldn’t trade him for all the cards or chocolates or expensive restaurant dinners in the world. And that, my dear, is what true love and the meaning of Valentine’s Day is all about.”

“Wow,” she said, her eyes watching me as if seeing me for the very first time.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “Wow.” Pushing myself up from the table, I slipped on the oven mitts and rescued the second batch of cookies from the stove and placed them on the counter. Caroline jumped up and transferred them to the cooling racks, and then she placed two cookies on a separate plate.

“I’m going to give these to Grandpa,” she said, picking up the plate and heading for the basement.

“For Valentine’s Day?” I asked.

“Nope,” she replied with a smile. “Just for today. It’s way more special.”

I love that story! Thank you so much for sharing it.

Anne's award winning stories chill the spine, warm the heart and soothe the soul…all with a delightful touch of humor. 

She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and married to her high school sweetheart for more than a quarter of a century, it's a given she'd write mystery and romantic suspense. When not writing she loves to travel, visit friends and family, and of course, read using ‘Threegio’ her cherished and much beloved Kindle 3G!

Anne, can you tell us about your books Defending Glory and Protecting Hope?

DEFENDING GLORY, Purchase Link for Defending Glory is book one of the Piedmont Island Trilogy series. It tells the story of Glory Palmer, a devote woman who believes unconditionally in the Lord, and Mac McKeown, a man who is convinced there is no master plan, no purpose in life, and most certainly, no merciful God in Heaven.

PROTECTING HOPE, book two of the series, features Deputy Jeremy Abbott. A hero in every sense of the word, he was a secondary character in DEFENDING GLORY. From the moment he walked onto the page, however, he insisted he deserved his own story, as well a happily-ever-after. PROTECTING HOPE is a stand alone book and will be released this spring. Check my website and blogs for details.

Anne, thanks so much for guesting today and sharing with us about the true meaning of love. 

If you would like to enter to win an ecopy of Anne's book, Defending Glory, please comment on this blog post. Don't forget to check out Anne's book trailer below. What's your view on the real meaning of love?

Linda McMaken is a guest today and she's sharing with us about the one and only time she planned a special Valentine's Day for her husband. 

I did and I will never do it again. It was our very first Valentine's together as a married couple. We both had to work that day, but I got home earlier. I wanted the evening to be special so I stopped by the store and brought home a bottle of cheap wine because we had no money. Then, I stopped at the flower shop; that was my first mistake.

I just wanted to get a nice inexpensive bouquet for our dinner table. Alas, as it was Valentine's Day, the florist was out of nearly everything except a big batch of lilacs. Apparently they had been special ordered for a wedding that didn't happen. I got them cheap because they were one day ahead of wilted death.

When I got home and the lilacs wouldn't fit in any vase or container that I had, so creative person that I am, I decided to pluck all those little lilac pedals off their vines and strew them everywhere, I mean everywhere. I had visions of those romantic Hollywood movies where little rose petals fall all over the place, the kiss happens, the lights go out, well you get the picture.

I made dinner, put it in the oven to stay warm and to make the night extra special I ran hubby a hot bath just before he got home. Into the bath water I "strew" those lilac flowers, hundreds of the little beggers. Hubby was a bit reticent to jump in a tub of full of lilac flowers, but bless his heart, he wanted to make me happy.

He jumped into the tub, laughing at those pedals. I went to the kitchen to finish dinner. In a few minutes I hear the dreaded; "honey, I need your help." I go into the bathroom so see my naked honey standing with tiny lilac petals stuck to every inch of his body. They were stuck to his skin like little tiny suction cups. We began by plucking them which with a guys more hairy body wasn't the best idea. The house didn't have a shower, so I found a bucket and began rinsing off all those petals by making a dozen trips to the kitchen sink. As a young married couple it was pretty funny and we were near tears with laughter.

The laughter however, was short lived. Do you have any idea what happens when thousands of flower petals try to go down a drain? Yeap, they clogged that sucker up tighter then a drum. We must have carried 40 buckets full of those petals outside, leaving this huge pile of lilac flowers outside the door.

Then we worked for about two hours with a plumbing snake to clear that drain, because neither one of us was willing to explain to a plumber or our landlord why there were thousands of flower petals clogging up the drain.

So, to this day, I say dinner out and no surprises! 

I can see why you now say dinner out and no surprises! But isn't it great to have such a fun memory! 

What are the top random facts about yourself?

I love, love, love to travel. In my fantasy life I am a writer for National Geographic.

I can tune up a car and have my own tool box.

I can name every bone in the human body.

Love to travel, but working on cars is not my specialty! Why do you like being an author?

Random stories start playing in my head and I have to have an outlet, so I write. It's so much cheaper than therapy.

Seriously, I love a great story and I've always been a fan of writers that could take me to other places, other worlds. I want to be one of those writers. To give a reader an escape for a few hours, to allow the reader to defeat the bad guys, to laugh at life, to love vicariously for a little while.

That's a great reason. Who’s your favorite author of classic literature?

I really like Charles Dickens. His stories give readers a sense of the era, a true description of life then, not the glamorized Hollywood version. And in spite of some very dark human moments, he let the good in humanity shine through.

I understand that you are giving away one copy of Baer Truth and one copy of The Granite Rose. How exciting! 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am the Senior News Editor for Reader's Entertainment News, Senior Media Marketing Manager, and scriptwriter for COS Productions. I write a library marketing blog for RT BookReviews online as well as occasional "roving reporter" articles. I also write financial articles and scripts for Investopedia.

Book One of The Three Baers Trilogy – Baer Truth – is my first novel. 

The second book in the series, Baer Necessities. will be out in October.  

My second novel, The Granite Rose, was released February 1st.

I have two almost perfect children, an extremely patient husband, a neurotic miniature Eskimo dog who yearns to live in Miami, and a Terrier/Mongrel mix that will "tinkle" at the slightest provocation.

When not writing, I grow ArnoldSwartzaWeeds in my garden, and camp whenever the opportunity presents itself. 

Let me just say that I absolutely love the cover art for both of these novels! Where can readers connect with you online and find your novels?
Linda's Website
Linda's Blog

Find Linda on Facebook
Find Linda on Twitter

Purchase Link for The Granite Rose
Purchase Link for Baer Truth

My books are also available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 

Linda, thanks so much for guesting! I enjoyed hearing about your one & only planning of Valentine's Day and learning more about you and your books. 

If you'd like to be entered for a chance to win one of Linda's books, please comment on this blog post. Hope you can hang out to chat for a bit. Don't forget to check out Linda's book trailer below.

Welcome back to another week at The Mustard Seed. I'm so glad to see all of you. LoRee Peery is a guest today and she's also doing a book giveaway so I hope you can hang out and chat!

A Victorian Valentine

When I was a little girl I dreamed of a Victorian parlor. Don’t ask me why, but I’m sure I conjured up a picture in my mind based on old movies that I watched or books that I read. Wherever it came from, I was hooked for life by a vivid image that at some point I shared with my husband Bill.

When I entered my second trimester with our youngest daughter, we were in the process of finishing our dream home on our acreage. We built our house with our own hands, sweat, and sacrifice. At the time, we were living in the unfinished basement. The upstairs bedrooms and bath were complete, but we did our eating and TV viewing inside concrete walls.

The living room-slash-parlor on the main floor of the house lay waiting for furnishings, with a fireplace made of salvaged brick we had cleaned, and a shiny new reddish-stained floor of yellow pine. Bill asked, “Would you like to start with a loveseat?”

“I think a loveseat would be a perfect Valentine’s gift.”

Bill surprised me with much more than a loveseat. He hit a close-out sale and brought home a truck load of furniture. The piece that stole my breath was a full-size Kimball Victorian burgundy velvet sofa. The floral loveseat and matching chair complemented the sofa. We not only had places to sit, but several table tops to set things. Included in the package were a marble-topped mahogany coffee table, two end tables, and a plant stand. All pieces were Victorian Reproductions from Montgomery, Alabama, embellished with hand-carved roses.

I was in Victorian heaven, and soon found myself latching on to anything decorative in the Victorian theme. I collected items trimmed in roses, hearts, lace, doilies, cherubs, glass and porcelain slippers, books and magazines on Victoriana, and Valentine replicas. I made a crazy quilt of velvets, laces, and crocheted doilies, all edged in antique embroidery floss.

Sad to say, a few years back, my Victorian parlor gave way to a much more livable area, complete with cushiony leather instead of seats that grew uncomfortable after a short time. We kept all the tables and some of the frilly goodies still grace the table tops.

Bill continues to surprise me with occasional gifts, and always a Valentine of some kind. But nothing has topped the fulfillment of my dream Victorian parlor, where walking into that room replicated romance of long ago.

Thank you for sharing about your perfect Valentine's gift. My mom loves the Victorian style as well and I like that style mixed with some modern touches...so I can relate to your love of things Victorian.  

Now for the fun part...let's chat! Why do you like being an author?

I have fulfilled a dream that turned into God’s use of words to hopefully point readers toward seeking His will.

Sounds like a wonderful reason to me. I've read your book, Rainn on my Parade and enjoyed it and loved the message you got across to readers. What’s your favorite novel?

The one that I’m reading, especially if it involves “people” seeking God’s path for their lives.

What was the happiest moment in your childhood?

I can’t pinpoint an actual moment, but two places come to mind. The hours I spent walking on the pasture hills, and the summer we lived in town when I got lost in the world of library books.

I always loved spending time at the library...many fond memories of reading great books growing up. 

LoRee, can you tell us about yourself and share with us about your new book, Sage and Sweetgrass?

A lifelong Nebraskan, I've lived most of my life in the country, where I feel grounded in my sense of place.  I learned to read when I was four and have devoured books since. I value one-on-one time with my grandchildren and love time spent with other writers.

I cling to the word overcomer and the knowledge I have victory in Jesus. When I consider being set apart as a child of God, I'm humbled. I feel closest to the Lord when I worship through singing. And one thing I'm sure of: “Jesus loves me, this I know. And He will never let me go.”

So awesome to stand firm in your faith and want to share that with others as a living testimony. I love the cover art for your newest book and am excited to read it! 

Diagnosed with a chronic, debilitating illness, Lanae Petersen vows to pursue life to its fullest. When she discovers mysterious love letters hidden within an antique desk, she begins a quest to discover who the young lovers were. Little does she realize that in trying to bring closure to their lives, hers will be turned upside-down.

After the death of his wife, cowboy Sage Diamond wants to be left alone on his acreage in peace and anonymity. When Lanae approaches him with letters to a family member, she not only threatens to expose his family secrets, but also stirs something inside him that he neither expects, nor welcomes. Sage fights his attraction, determined not to fall for a woman whose health is so fragile. Can Sage trust God's guiding hand, or will his fear of losing another love crush his chance for a future with Lanae?

Where can readers find your book online as well as connect with you?

Purchase Link for Sage and Sweetgrass

LoRee's Website

Find LoRee on Facebook

LoRee, it's been great to chat with you today and learn more about your special Valentine gift and newest book release. 

If you'd like to enter for a chance to win LoRee's book, please comment on this blog post. We'd love for you to stay and chat for a bit!

If you attended the Valentine's Day Blog party at The Mustard Seed then you already met Kendra James. She is back with us today to share her thoughts on love. Hope you can stay for a while to chat with Kendra.

Love. The word encompasses so much territory and evokes so many emotions. There is the spiritual love that we have for God and our relationship with him, whether it be personal, distant, or non-existent.

There is the gratitude we feel for all that has come, or will come into our lives. There is the platonic love we feel for our fellow man. A bland caring that usually, unless we are an ardent save-the-world good samaritan, does not require a lot of emotional output.

Then come acquaintances, up a level from bland and distant. We care, but usually not enough to have their actions impact us on a deep level. We reserve that for our friends and family. And depending how emotional or sensitive we are, these emotions can run a wide spectrum from cool and unapproachable to the fawning, smothering love. Me, I’m a tactile person. I love hugs, giving and getting.

For many years, whether from hormones or life stress, I would have to have a good cry ever three months or so. Did it come from being on my own after a divorce and the struggles of raising three children on my own, having to work twelve hour shifts including weekends and nights, missing being off for holidays...so many stresses. What’s that crap about what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Not having a loved one in my life to share the struggles with left me feeling so alone. But those were on the days I let myself have a pity party. I was alive, had a job and three wonderful children. It was time to put feeling sorry for myself and learn to embrace the challenges. And to love life.  We can see the cup as half full or half empty. It is all in our attitude. Depressing topic for Valentine month, not really. I needed those times to value love and life.

As I get older, I find myself tearing up more at the good things in life than ever before. If I see the problem children I work with making good choices or, being acknowledged for their achievements, and the tears start coming. Or when I see our Canadian figure staters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Patrick Chan perform an awesome, or not so awesome program, I tear up. My heart is full of love, and somedays, I wear it on my sleeve.

And I haven’t even talked about the other love. The magnetic attraction, the chemistry, the lust...But that I will save for another day. Or you may have to read a good romance novel.

So happy Valentine Month to all. If you don’t have someone to share it with, still know that you can love the most important person of all, yourself.

Kendra, I love what you said about the glass being half full or half empty and how it's all about our attitudes...so very true. 

So, what are the top five random facts about yourself?

I had my first poem published when I was in grade three. It was about daffodils.

I’ve successfully delivered three calves when their mothers were having difficulty with their births.

I’ve rounded up a herd of cattle just by clapping my hands to yelling at them to get home. Stunned the old farmers, it did.

I saw the Wizard of Oz and Wuthering Heights the same year (I was about eight or nine) and I was more afraid of the Wicked Witch of the West than the ghost in Wuthering Heights.

I danced to ‘I had the time of my life’ from Dirty Dancing and the room stopped to watch my partner and myself jive to it. I felt like I was a mature Baby from the movie. 

You sound like such an interesting person and I'd love to meet you someday! Why do you like being an author?

Being able to create characters I love and hate and to be able to put them together and see what fireworks happen.

Who’s your favorite author of classic literature?

Taylor Caldwell

Do you have a favorite novel?


This is my favorite question to ask because I love the variety of responses I get from different authors. Do you have a fond memory of an interaction with a reader?

Yes. The reaction I have gotten when people read my Missing Clayton which will be out later this year with Black Opal Books. I was ecstatic when my editor told me I had done a brilliant job of it.

That's always nice to hear! What was the happiest moment in your childhood?

Going on fishing trips with my dad. I was a tomboy and it was great to enjoy that time alone with him in nature even if we got up before the sun rose. The fish bite more at that time. 

It's wonderful to have memories of great times spent together with your father.

Kendra, can you tell us about yourself?

I live in London, Ontario with three assorted cats and a collie-cross, named Tiff. My three children have flown the coup. I prefer spending time with my  granddaughter, Jasmine, writing, reading, or time in my garden to being in the kitchen.

I write romance under the pen name of Kendra James. My mystery, YA, children's novels, and poetry is written as Bev Irwin.

WHEN HEARTS COLLIDE came second in the Heart of the Rockies contest this fall in the contemporary category. A mainstream mystery, MISSING CLAYTON, came third in the suspense category for Gateway to the Best, and second in the TARA for women's fiction. It will be published with Black Opal Books in 2012 as will GHOSTLY JUSTICE, a paranormal YA. 

Congratulations on those honors for your books! Where can readers connect with you online?

Kendra's Website

Kendra's Blog

Find Kendra on Facebook

Find Kendra on Twitter

What is your book, When Hearts Collide about? And I love the cover!

If you witnessed an accident on a lonely stretch of highway, would you stop or continue on your way? For nurse Molly Tanner the choice is clear. Risking her own life, she pulls the seriously injured driver and his young daughter from the car. When Pearce begs her to pose as his wife to keep Gracie from foster care, memories of her unhappy childhood rush back. But can Molly keep up the charade without her own secrets being discovered and her heart being shattered?

Sounds like a very intriguing book and something I'd like to add to my TBR list. Where can readers find your book online?

WHEN HEARTS COLLIDE is available from Soul Mate Publishing, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Kendra, thanks again for guesting. I enjoyed chatting with you and getting to know more about you and your books.

Hope you all can hang out to chat with Kendra!

Jennifer Comeaux is here today at The Mustard Seed to talk about romance and how it pertains to her favorite sport: figure skating. She's also doing a book giveaway. Hope you can hang out and chat with Jennifer.

Hi! I’m excited to be a guest here on Joanne’s blog and want to thank her for giving me this opportunity! With February being the month of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d write about romance and its connection to my favorite sport, figure skating.

My novel LIFE ON THE EDGE, released last month by Astraea Press, is a love story set in the world of competitive figure skating. In the book, the romance is between a skater and her coach, but often in stories and in real life, romance develops between two pair skaters or ice dance partners. And when these teams take the ice, their romantic connection often manifests itself in the skaters’ performances.

I think figure skating is the perfect combination of sport and art, and when you add in a romantic relationship between the skaters, the product can become even more beautiful. The couple brings us onto the ice with them and lets us witness their shared emotions.

What’s really impressive are the teams who aren’t romantically involved but who make the audience believe they are. These skaters have a special performance gift and are convincing actors.

I’ve compiled a few of my favorite romantic skating performances, some by teams who were off-ice couples and some by teams who were not. If you’re not familiar with the skaters, I’ll let you guess who the couples were ;-)

Please see the end of the post for the other videos of Jennifer's favorite romantic skating performances. 

Katia Gordeeva & Sergei Grinkov – “Vocalise”:
Jennifer, what are the top five random facts about yourself?

I was born on Mardi Gras.

I don’t like hot drinks like coffee or hot chocolate.

I have a baseball card collection.

I’m addicted to the TV show Once Upon a Time.

I’ve only ice skated once in my life.

I'm a big fan of Once Upon a Time also. I've always loved the sport of figure skating and can understand why you like it so much! Why do you like being an author?

I love being able to tell a story and have it emotionally resonate with readers. Getting people excited and emotionally invested in my stories is my goal as a writer.

What’s your favorite novel?

To Kill a Mockingbird

Can you share with us some more about your book, Life on the Edge?

Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream–to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history.

Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily’s dreams of gold.

I can't wait to read it! Where can readers find your book online? 

Purchase Link at Astraea Press for Life on the Edge

Purchase Link at Amazon for Life on the Edge

Purchase Link at B&N for Life on the Edge 

Jennifer, tell us about yourself?

I earned a Master of Accounting from Tulane University and am a Certified Public Accountant in south Louisiana. While working for a large corporation, I sought a creative outlet and decided to put on paper a story that had played in my head for years. That story became Life on the Edge, my first published novel. 

When not working or writing, I'm an avid follower of the sport of figure skating, travelling to competitions around the country. Those experiences allow me to see another side of the sport and serve as an inspiration for my writing. I'm blessed with a wonderful family and many friends who have encouraged me to pursue my dream of being a published author.

Where can readers connect with you online?

Jennifer's Blog

Find Jennifer on Facebook

Find Jennifer on Twitter 

Thanks so much for guesting today and sharing with us about your passions and your new novel. I enjoyed chatting with you and getting to know you better!

If you'd like to enter Jennifer's book giveaway, you know what to do...leave a comment on this blog post. Hope you all can stick around to chat and don't forget to check out the rest of the videos below!

Meryl Davis & Charlie White - “Someone Like You”:
Elizabeth Punsalan & Jerod Swallow – Tango:
Katia Gordeeva & Ilia Kulik – “Casi Un Bolero”:
Meryl Davis & Charlie White – “Samson & Delilah”:
Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto – “If It Kills Me”:
Katia Gordeeva & Sergei Grinkov – “Reverie”:
Jamie Sale & David Pelletier – “Piano Concerto No. 2”:
Madison Hubbell & Zach Donohue – “To Make You Feel My Love”:
Marina Klimova & Sergei Ponomarenko – “Air”:
Addison James is a guest at The Mustard Seed today. Hope you all can hang around and visit with Addison!

The most valuable lesson learned in my lifetime about love

I’ve learned that love is about being vulnerable. There’s a TED lecture by writer/professor Brene Brown about connecting to other humans by being vulnerable, because we all crave human connection but often don’t know how to achieve it because our egos get in the way.

Over my life, what I realized is that my biggest regrets don’t have anything to do with what paper I didn’t write or club I didn’t join (maybe a couple classes I didn’t attend), but, in particular, the things I never said. In particular, when I didn’t express how much I loved or appreciated others. I wasn’t vulnerable.

Now, with my friends and family,  I make sure to tell them I love and appreciate them. With my kids, my last words to them every day are “I love you.”  I’ve had friends and family die suddenly, and the biggest regret is not saying while they’re alive all the stuff you end up telling them at their funeral. Sucks, in a word. I’ve learned not to do that again. I don’t mind putting myself out there and expressing myself (keeping in mind the internet is forever, and any possible future employer could be cyber stalking me), whereas in the past I would think things, but not say them. Now I say them.

I guess love starts with loving yourself enough that you’re comfortable showing that love to others.

Thanks for sharing about love. It's so true that life is short and we never know what's going to happen so loving to the fullest is vital. Why do you like being an author? 

I have this need to write. I process life better when I write. It almost doesn’t feel like a choice. To find out that people actually want to read what I write and they enjoy it, that’s the topping on the sundae!

We must be kindred spirits! Sounds like my own answer to that questions. Who’s your favorite author of classic literature? 

Jane Austen.

Now I know we are! Love Jane Austen. What’s your favorite novel? 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Do you have a fond memory of interaction with a reader? 

I once wrote a story with a Native American hero set on a reservation. I made sure to research that specific tribe and make it realistic, but respectful. I got a letter from a member of that tribe who thanked me for my portrayal of her people. I was on cloud nine! I still cherish that.

That's awesome. Must have been so special to receive that letter! What was the happiest moment in your childhood? 

I’m the youngest of five kids and everyone comes home for Christmas. One year, my second eldest brother phoned to say he couldn’t attend. He was the only single person in his office and he volunteered to stay and work so the married coworkers could have Christmas with their families. Well, Christmas day we had a knock on the door and there stood my brother, saying “I was in the neighborhood.” Best Christmas of my childhood: not toys, but family.

Family is very important to me so I can truly understand how wonderful that moment was! 

Can you share with us about your book, The Best Bad Date from Muse It Up (Dec. 2011)? 

When is a bad date good? Susan Wells finds out when a bachelor auction leads to a date with handsome Doctor Roger Lane, and a night to remember. What could go wrong? Everything. Will love find a way through this comedy of errors? Absolutely.

Sounds like a book I'd love. Where can readers find your book online?

Purchase Link for The Best Bad Date on Muse It Up

Purchase Link for The Best Bad date on Amazon

I understand that your next book, Pop Tarts and Texting from Books to Go Now is out this month. Congrats! 

You can connect with Addison online here: 

Addison's Website
Addison James spent her childhood with her nose in a book, ignoring the natural beauty of her native Vermont. She went to the right schools, got the right jobs, and spent her early adult years being responsible and stable. Then, her long repressed urge to write emerged and she has been feeding it ever since.  

Addison's Blog

Find Addison on Twitter

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Addison, thank you so much for guesting here today. 

Hope you all stick around for bit to talk to Addison. Thanks again for hanging out with is today.

William S. Shepard is a guest at The Mustard Seed today. Hope you can visit with him and he's also doing a book giveaway. Let's meet William...

Now residents of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the Shepards enjoy visits from their daughters and granddaughters, fine and moderate weather, ocean swims at Assateague, Chesapeake Bay crabs, and the company of Rajah and Rani, their two rescued cats.

Prize winning mystery writer William S. Shepard is the creator of a new genre, the diplomatic mystery, whose plots are set in American Embassies overseas. That mirrors Shepard’s own career in the Foreign Service of the United States, during which he served in Singapore, Saigon, Budapest, Athens and Bordeaux, in addition to five Washington tours of duty.

His books explore this rich, insider background into the world of high stakes diplomacy and government. He evokes his last Foreign Service post, Consul General in Bordeaux, in Vintage Murder, the first of the series of four “diplomatic mysteries.” The second, Murder On The Danube, now also available on Kindle, mines his knowledge of Hungary and the 1956 Revolution. In Murder In Dordogne Robbie Cutler, his main character, is just married, but their honeymoon in the scenic southwest of France is interrupted by murders. The most recent of the series, The Saladin Affair, has Cutler transferred to work for the Secretary of State. Like the author, Cutler arranges trips on Air Force Two – now enlivened by serial Al Qaeda attempts to assassinate the Secretary of State.

You can connect with William online here:

Diplomatic Mysteries

Facebook Page

Click on cover for purchase link
William, what was the most valuable lesson you've learned in your lifetime about love?

Love endures over a lifetime. It grows and changes over time, and new richness is discovered. We have been married now for over 50 years, and marvel how things have changed – with an inner core that remains the same. Emotions and their depth are important, as is a sense of humor and a questing intelligence. There is always something to talk about, and share opinions on, and some new, perhaps transient enthusiasm to share. I think we learn something new virtually every day, and love, while constant, is rarely predictable. One of the reasons that grandparents tend to get along so well with their grandchildren, is that grandparents take the long view, and are rarely judgmental. That is a lesson learned over the years.

Thank you for sharing. Who’s your favorite author of classic literature?

My two favorite authors are Balzac and Charles Dickens. Both were prodigious writers, with imaginations that were far beyond what even gifted authors usually display. Balzac’s Human Comedy attempted nothing less than the portrayal of all society, at every level, with social forces at work, in a time when France was in great turmoil following the downfall of Napoleon. Charles Dickens had an incomparable imagination. He surfaces and throws away more plots in, say, “Nicholas Nickleby” than the average writer could productively use in a decade. And he reinvented Christmas in the bargain! Both writers do not take the easy, happy ending approach to novel writing. Balzac lets his characters, pulled by extreme emotions, guide their way in a manner that is compelling and yet disturbing. Dickens, perhaps realizing the demands of his public, would keep them on edge from chapter to chapter – and then tragedy strikes, irregardless. They are masters of the novel – and given their handwriting, I’d have hated to be their publisher!

Do you have a favorite novel? We'd love to hear about it.

Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina,” and I think the new translation, by Pevear and Volokhonsky, is a revelation. I had read it previously, but this translation is luminous. It brings the characters to life. I have the impression that Tolstoy is more successful with female than with male characters, and I don’t know why. Perhaps he really did listen to Mrs. Tolstoy after all. And then Stendahl’s “The Red And The Black.” When I first read it, in college, I identified with Julien Sorel, the young protagonist. But then I reread it twenty years later, and got just the opposite impression – Sorel’s treatment of Mme. de Renal is dreadful. So I think that one’s own life experiences change over time, and with them, one’s views of a novel.

What was the happiest moment in your childhood?

I remember a Christmas when I was perhaps four or five. We were at peace, and the family business had prospered, and there was no illness. We had a huge decorated Christmas tree, many presents for everyone, and a sense of joy. Dinner was copious and delicious. That may be the Christmas when I wrapped a catnip mouse for my cat Peter and put the present under the tree. When I awoke the next morning, Peter had ignored the other presents and opened his. That proved to me that Peter could read! And so the local newspaper reported on the front page the following day!

What a wonderful memory! Love that it got reported in the local paper.

Click cover for purchase link
Can you share with us about your book,  Murder On The Danube.  

“Murder On The Danube” continues my diplomatic mystery series. Robbie Cutler is now Political Officer at the American Embassy in Budapest. The Hungarian Revolution, with its heroic and doomed street fighting against the occupying Russian Army, forms the backdrop to the novel, as the survivors of a resistance group are endangered once again. Someone has something to hide from the old days. There are two love stories. The first is that of Robbie Cutler and his friend Sylvie Marceau. Will he forget her, now that he has left Bordeaux? For a while he starts lunching with the young and bored wife of the Australian Ambassador. Robbie’s sister Evalyn, on a visit to see her brother, sees what is going on – and is not pleased with Robbie!

The second love story is between two Freedom Fighters, Eva Molnar and Csaba Kovacs. She is arrested by the secret police, and he disappears. Will they be reunited? And why is a Russian Mafia contract killer trying to murder the survivors, and Robbie Cutler?

Purchase Link for Murder On The Danube 

Click cover for purchase link
Can you tell us about your book, Shepard’s Guide to Mastering French Wines.  

“Shepard’s Guide to Mastering French Wines” is a comprehensive Kindle guide to the regions and wines of France. Dozens of recommendations will save the reader time and effort, and the first purchase more than repays the cost of the e-book. This is one Kindle book that you will be consulting for years to come. I was Consul General in Bordeaux, lived there for years, and know the great estates personally. 

Purchase Link for Shepard's Guide to Mastering French Wines 

If you'd like to enter to win a copy of William's, Shepard's Guide to Mastering French Wines, please join the chat and comment on this blog post. 

William, thanks so much for guesting today. I enjoyed chatting with you. 

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    In accordance with FTC Guidelines for blogging & endorsements, I want to post this disclaimer. From time to time, I do purchase and review some novels. However, most of the novels I review are given to me as a complimentary review copy by the author or publisher. I do not receive  monetary compensation for the reviews I complete.

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