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Pamplona Room, Fourth Book Release & Giveaway

Pamplona Room
View from Pamplona Room Balcony

Pamplona Room at Andrew’s Inn~ Wow!

Pamplona Room sounds so exotic, doesn’t it? Maybe the name added to my fascination when I first read about it on Trip Advisor. We were traveling to Key West for Hemingway Days, one of Hemingway’s books featured prominently in my storyline for One More Sunset, and I was looking for a new B&B home-away-from-home to call our own. This one seemed worth a try, almost kismet!

Pamplona Room

When I wanted to book it back in November 2015, however, all Andrew Inn’s rooms were booked. Disappointed to be shut out, I reserved a room at another B&B. It was a little more expensive, but within our price point, and close to Southern Beach. I couldn’t complain.

Pamplona Room
Stairs that lead to Paris and Pamplona Rooms

But still…I secretly pined away for that Pamplona Room experience.

Pamplona Room
Andrew’s Inn Courtyard

A month out from our trip, I checked the vacancy status at Andrew’s–just in case–and was pleasantly surprised to see that the Pamplona Room I’d yearned to acquire for our four-night/five-day trip was available. We called immediately to verify what I’d seen online, had a lovely talk with the manager Lisa, and promptly switched over our reservations.

Pamplona Room
Poolside at Andrew’s Inn

The day of our couple getaway arrived. Our flight from Long Island to Fort Lauderdale wasn’t picture-perfect (not by a long shot), but when we finally managed to land in Florida about twelve hours after our originally scheduled time, and drove our rental car through the Keys to arrive at our B&B in the middle of the night. The Pamplona Room at Andrew’s Inn was everything I’d envisioned, though, and eased my frustration with our bad luck prior to that. And as always, the rest of our getaway was fantastic!

Pamplona Room
Book signing in Hemingway backyard

Pamplona Room at Andrew’s Inn HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Cozy yet clean queen size room w/AC
  • Plenty of storage in room and bath
  • balcony overlooking Ernest Hemingway’s backyard–Wow!
  • breakfast included
  • Intimate setting — only six rooms on-site
  • happy hour with the other guests 4:30 – 5:30 DAILY, with wine/beer/light snacks
  •  excellent, personalized customer service provided by Lisa and Christine
  • free parking!
  • dipping pool and quiet lounge area
  • Quiet and private, yet steps away from Upper Duval Street

Andrew Inn at Night

Andrew’s Inn Tips from Jolyse:

  • Take advantage of the recommended laundry service around the corner
  • Rent a bike on-site in hot weather–much more comfortable/quicker traveling with a breeze on your face
  • Take advantage of the breakfast and happy hour

Great Places to Check Out Nearby:

  • Hemingway House and Museum
  • Six-Toed Cat Café — great key lime pie
  • Lighthouse & Museum
  • End of US 1 Photo Opp
  • Banyan Trees
  • Fort Zachary Taylor Beach/Cafe
  • Truman’s Little White House
  • Green Parrot – open-air bar/restaurant
  • Upper Duval Street
  • Butterfly Conservatory
  • Southernmost Beach & Café
Pamplona Room
Available at major digital outlets now!

Fourth Book Release

My fourth book hit the Amazon charts today. The first in my Single in the City series,  TEXT ME, MAYBE is a romantic comedy set in NYC.  Writing this one was a roller-coaster ride–but I’m very pleased with the final version. I wanted to give the world–so often filled with sadness and hate–a ray of optimistic sunshine. Lexie and Matthew aren’t perfect, but I hope you find them to be perfect for each other. Reviews like this one give me the courage to continue pouring my heart and soul into my stories day after day.  oxo Jolyse

“It was a true pleasure to meet Lexie & Matt, the undeniable chemistry between these two was like a magnet that pulled me right into their world and had me hanging intently onto their every word. Their unique, and oh so, charming story was brimming with romantic comedy, laced heartfelt emotion, and packed with some heated moments that had me in dire need of a fan! This one turned out to be a very enjoyable first read for me, and left me looking forward to reading more from this author in the very near future, and I highly recommend you give it a try, these two are sure to win you over!!”  ~ Reds Romance Reviews

Winner of Summer of Love Giveaway #2

Congratulations to Katherine Martell, you’re the winner of Maggie Van Well’s signed copy of RUBY’S LETTERS along with some Jolyse Barnett swag! (Please contact me within seven days of this notice and provide a valid US mailing addy.) Thanks to everyone for playing along and to Maggie for donating her lovely read.

Enter Summer of Love Giveaway #3

Andrew's Inn

This week’s Summer of Love Giveaway features the fabulous Jeannie Moon! I’ve adored every one of her contemporary romances that I’ve read, and I’m so excited to offer this giveaway, which includes as signed copy of Until You, a Jeannie Moon canvas tote bag, and related author swag.

Here’s a blurb from this wonderful blend of women’s fiction/romance:

When newly divorced Kate Adams is approached on the sunny deck of a California hotel by hockey star David Burke, and he invites her to dinner, she almost says no. He’s obviously younger than her. And charming. And drop dead gorgeous.  But there’s also something sweet about David, so Kate—who hasn’t done anything spontaneous in a very long time—accepts his invitation.

It is, after all, her fortieth birthday.

However, a real romance with thirty-year-old David, whose picture is in the gossip pages as often as it’s in the sports pages, is out of the question. No matter how much she wants him, it’s just too risky.

But meeting Kate has been David’s lightning strike. She’s the one for him, and he has no intention of giving up on her.

So while Kate guards her fragile heart, David sets out to win her over with the same determination that drives him on the ice.

And he’ll break every rule in the book if he has to.

 

Now it’s your turn..

Share a special getaway moment, or tell us about a time everything seemed to go wrong at the beginning of a long-awaited vacation, but ended up fine in the end. Or, respond to any other part of today’s Monday Mash-Up Post! 🙂

So…before you go, leave a comment, you’ll be entered for a chance to win the third of my Summer of Love giveaways! Good luck, and check back next Monday to see if you’ve won this cool prize courtesy from Jeannie Moon! I’m excited to do my small part in spreading a little summer love…

One winner will be selected at random from the comments and announced in next Monday’s blog post. Winner will have one week to contact me via my website contact page and supply a valid US mailing address for the package to be mailed. Otherwise, a new winner will be selected. Thanks for playing!

#mondayblogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Wedding Idea for Book and Cat Lovers

Wedding idea needed?

Wedding idea needed for you or a loved one? If you’re thinking about a destination wedding, and the bride adores books and cats, then Key West might be a great option. There are many pros about choosing the Conch Republic for this special event, such as:

  • it’s exotic
  • it’s within US
  • it’s known for its embracing, inclusive view toward marriage
  • it has a variety of venues, lodgings, and activities for guests
  • it’s romantic
  • it’s also a great honeymoon destination–saving on travel expenses and time
wedding idea Key West beach
Southern Beach in KW

Wedding venues galore!

Over our many getaways to the westernmost Florida Key, my Honey and I have met many newlyweds who married on the island. Most planned to celebrate their entire honeymoon there, too. I always tease my husband that I want to get married to him again, but say that this time we’d do it in Key West. I even promise, er, threaten, to wear my original wedding dress. I know my daughter wouldn’t consider wearing it in a million years. So, why not?

Wedding in Key West

We’ve observed sunset weddings on the Southernmost Beach while we lounged in our swimsuits, and witnessed brides and their entourages as they gathered at the Key West Historic Seaport. Later, we’d see the festive groups depart on a rented yacht while we dined in our T-shirts and shorts nearby at Turtle Kraals.

wedding idea on mallory square
Reception Set on Mallory Square

We’ve been celebrating the sunset and enjoying the free entertainment at Mallory Square with the rest of the crowed while a couple tied the knot at one of the waterside resorts. Their celebration would be separated from non-guests by a satin rope.

Perhaps that explains why I half-expected to hear a couple reciting their vows at the legendary property while we were touring Hemingway’s house. I mean, it could happen. Right? Well, apparently not. According to our tour guide, weddings and other special events only occur there in the evening hours, AFTER the museum tours are done for the day. It’s such a tropical and tranquil spot, secluded from the noise of Duval Street and filled with legend, history, and happy cats. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the concept. What a great wedding idea!

wedding idea at Hemingway House
Tropical and Tranquil

Hmm. Now I might not be able to convince my husband to marry me again, but perhaps he’d agree to a book release party there someday, and I’d invite all my reader friends to join us. Wouldn’t that be cool?

wedding idea pagoda
Wedding Pagoda at Hemingway Property
wedding idea for Key West venue
Wedding Pagoda

In addition to the wedding pagoda, you will also find forty-five or so well-cared-for cats that roam the tropical-landscaped property, a gorgeous backyard pool I told you all about in Pool at 907 Whitehead (maybe that’s when they make use of the pool?), and an on-site pet cemetery. The last isn’t such a happy thought, but I figured I’d mention it since it highlights the love Hemingway and his descendants had for their feline pets.

Hemingway Pet Cemetery
Hemingway Pet Cemetery

Wedding idea chat…

It’s your turn. Let’s chat weddings. Mine was in the Adirondacks on a chilly April afternoon–complete with snow flurries!  You might want to share:

  • Your wedding story
  • Your take on destination weddings
  • Your dream wedding ideas
  • OR  your reaction to this post in general

This post wraps up my mini blog series about Ernest Hemingway’s Key West property. If you’re interested in learning more, you can catch up by hopping on over to the first two posts, Hemingway’s Key West Studio and Hemingway House’s Fun Facts and Six-Toed Cats. (I mentioned and linked to the third Hemingway House post earlier in the post.)

WINNER of Summer of Love Giveaway #1

Congratulations to TERESA FORDICE! You’re the lucky winner of Patty Blount’s YA romance, TMI, and assorted Patty Blount and Jolyse Barnett swag! Contact me via my website contact page to confirm your mailing address. (I used List Randomizer at random.org to select the winning entry.) Thanks to everyone who participated. I enjoy blogging, but enjoy reading your comments even more. <3

Patty Blount, YA Author
Patty Blount, YA Author

Enter the Summer of Love Giveaway #2

By Maggie Van Well
By Maggie Van Well
You never know what you’ll find behind the wall of a closed up fireplace.
Emma Hopkins is a recently divorced chimney sweep trying to make it in a man’s world. When she wins a huge job in Brooklyn Heights , she finds more than she bargains for; a sexy general contractor who makes her blood boil and an evil spirit who wants her dead.
Ryan Atkinson struggles to keep his once-successful general contracting business alive, but horrors in his past have made him a shell of the man he once was. Now he has to face those fears to save Emma from a murderous ghost hell-bent on revenge.
Together, Ryan and Emma become ghost hunting partners, hoping to solve the mystery behind Ruby’s letters. What they uncover is a one-hundred year old murder and a budding love that can’t be denied.

 

This is truly one of the sweetest romances I’ve ever read. A real gem!

Maggie Van Well is another blessing in my life since I began writing professionally six years ago, one of my Long Island Romance Writers pals, and a great personal friend, as well. If you’re not into ghost story romances (although I think you’d love this one, too), she also writes contemporary romances. Learn more at Maggie Van Well.com.

So…before you go, leave a comment about today’s final Hemingway House post and you’ll be entered for a chance to win the second of my Summer of Love giveaways! This week’s prize for one USA resident who leaves a blog comment features an autographed copy of Maggie Van Well’s RUBY’S LETTERS. The gift package will also include a few surprises, including Jolyse Barnett swag. I’m excited to do my small part in spreading a little summer love!

One winner will be selected at random from the comments and announced in next Monday’s blog post. Winner will have one week to contact me via my website contact page and supply a valid US mailing address for the package to be mailed. Otherwise, a new winner will be selected. Thanks for playing and have a wonderful week!

#mondayblogs


Pool at 907 Whitehead

Pool time? The swimming pool at 907 Whitehead Street in Key West, Florida was the first in-ground one built on the island. Sixty-four feet long and twenty-four feet wide, it was an engineering feat for its time.

But that isn’t the most fascinating aspect of this pool…

swimming pool
Swimming pool at Hemingway House, KW

Like most stories related to Ernest Hemingway, who lived there with his second wife, Pauline, and their children from 1931-1940, there’s an air of mystery surrounding how the pool came to be. And as the tour guide spoke about it, many of the phrases he used to describe the structure reminded me of the writer, too.

Over-the-top. Unique.  Extravagant. Innovative.

swimming pool replaced the boxing ring
A Sparring Partner

But interestingly, as much as it reflects the late author’s persona, a swimming pool wasn’t Ernest’s first choice for his tropical backyard. Apparently a boxing ring was his idea of fun, because shortly after they moved into the house, he installed one so he could practice his amateur boxing skills on a regular basis. Of course, he invited his friends to watch.

Can you imagine looking out your window into what you’d envisioned would be your tranquil, tropical-set backyard and seeing a bunch of rough, sweaty guys cheering on your husband as he exchanges punches? From my research about Pauline, I don’t think she would sit byou and say nothing. It had been her uncle’s money that had allowed them to acquire the property in the first place, and she had two impressionable young boys. Would she want them exposed to the language and violence that went along with the sport?

I doubt it.

tour guide at swimming pool
Tour Guide at Pool

So, while the tour guide expounded on the history of the pool, I could hear Ernest pleading his case with Pauline while she complained about her yard being used as a boxing venue. He’d cite his hard work and need for a place to kick back with the guys. She wasn’t happy about when he left for the bar. Wasn’t it better he hung out at home? Pauline would point out that he went to the bar every afternoon anyway, and that he had the writing studio hogging a sizable chunk of the family backyard. Why not make the rest of it a place where they all could entertain their friends?

As I forced myself back to the present, the tour guide told us the pool had been Ernest’s idea and not Pauline’s. Hmm. Perhaps that’s true, but I still wonder whether her input might’ve been the impetus for his decision to replace that eyesore of a boxing ring with an elegant pool. Or, maybe it was Ernest’s idea. He did suggest it just prior to heading off to Europe as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War. Maybe he figured that overseeing the enormous project would keep her occupied and happy. Whatever the case, the boxing ring was moved off the property to make way for the new backyard focal point at 907 Whitehead.

Interesting facts about the year-long construction:

  • An initial estimated cost of eight thousand dollars
  • Intensive manual labor to dig the massive 64 feet by 24 feet hole through solid coral
  • intensive manual labor to dig and thread a pipe to the depth of the island’s water table
  • Actual cost was twenty thousand dollars
penny at hemingway swimming pool
Legend of the Penny

When Ernest returned home after the war, the guide said that the writer was angry to learn how much money Pauline had ended up paying for the swimming pool construction. And that since she seemed to be intent on spending every last penny he had, she might as well have it right then. In response, Pauline had the penny cemented into the patio.  I looked down and saw see there was, in fact, an old coin in the pathway. Whether it was put there by Hemingway or his wife for that reason, or by someone else to perpetuate the legend, I suppose we’ll never know. But, it was an interesting detail of our tour.

Twenty thousand dollars is a lot of money, even in 2016, and I’m hopeful the Hemingway family got plenty of use out of their investment. I was happy to see many photos throughout the house that showed them swimming in it or entertaining friends while they lounged beside it. I should’ve asked the guide if anyone ever swims in the pool now. It’s gorgeous, and with Key West’s balmy weather, I feel like it ought to be.

I plan to learn the answer to that question when we return to Key West later this summer, since our balcony of our bed & breakfast king suite just happens to overlook the famous Hemingway pool. I kid you not.  So, if you’re curious like me, stay tuned for the update.

Summer of Love Giveaway #1

I hope you enjoyed the very belated–but written with love–third installment about the Hemingway house in Key West, and that you’ll visit next week for the fourth and final one.   If you missed the first two posts, or it has been so long that you’ve forgotten whether or not you read them, feel free to hop on over to Hemingway’s Key West Studio and Hemingway House’s Fun Facts and Six-Toed Cats.

Patty Blount, YA Author
Patty Blount, YA Author

Before you go, leave a comment about today’s Hemingway post so you’re entered for a chance to win the first of my Summer of Love paperback and romance author swag giveaways.

This week’s prize for one USA resident who leaves a comment features an autographed copy of award-winning author, Patty Blount’s YA novel, TMI! The gift package will also include a few surprises, including Patty Blount and Jolyse Barnett swag. I’m excited to do my small part to spread a little summer love!

One winner will be selected at random from the comments and announced in next Monday’s blog post. Winner will have one week to contact me via my website contact page or via my email address at jolysebarnett@gmail.com and supply a valid US snail mail address for the package to be mailed. Otherwise, a new winner will be selected.

 

 

 


Beach Days Ahead Giveaway

Are Beach Days Ahead?

Well, of course they are! And man, how we need them after a season of overcast skies and short, chilly days. To help celebrate the blossoming of a new season, and in anticipation of my very first reader newsletter–squee!–I’ve decided that now’s the perfect time for a “Beach Days Ahead” Giveaway! But more details about that in a minute.

Let’s Talk About Spring

I’ve always considered myself to be more of a summer girl. I love sipping cold drinks by the pool, wearing a bikini beneath my tank and shorts, and swimming laps for exercise. But in recent years, I’ve grown to appreciate the gradual warming of the earth. The past few weeks I’ve found myself eager to start my daily stroll around our front yard and taking the time to slow down to, well, smell the flowers. If you’ve located me on social media, you might already be privy to my flower obsession.  Here’s one of my favorite #instaflower in  #myfrontyard photos. (Visit me at Instagram if you’d like to see more–plus an embarrassingly huge number of cat photos.)

#instaflower
@JolyseBarnett #instaflower

I used to plant flowers and tend them faithfully with my children’s help while my husband/their father worked far away. In recent years, as my writing has taken more of my focus and my Honey is home full-time, he has taken over the spring outdoor festivities. Perhaps what I love best about his gardening style is the element  of surprise. He’ll buy a bag of bulbs and scatter them about, burying them much like a squirrel would for winter. Then, as each one sprouts, we enjoy playing a game of “What kind of flower is that?” or  “I bet you five bucks this flower will be __color word__.” Then, too, we walk around and watch nature at work…bees and butterflies pollinating…birds nesting…squirrels scampering…in addition to those blooming flowers. Who knew my own front yard could hold such wonders?

And maybe the best part isn’t necessarily the games we play, but the fact that we’re playing them together. I’m wishing you the same simple joys this spring…doing whatever you love with the one(s) you love.   oxo Jolyse

And now, as promised…

Beach Days Ahead Prize Package

Beach Days Ahead
Beach Days Ahead Package

All you need to do to be entered for this giveaway is:

  1. Sign up for my newsletter. Scroll down to the bottom and fill-in the box under “Newsletter Sign-Up” with your email addy. Be sure to also confirm your subscription when you receive the follow-up email from this site. (The first newsletter will be emailed to your inbox upon the release of Text Me, Maybe in May–with special, members-only treats and info!) If you’re already a subscriber, you’ve already fulfilled this part of the entry.  🙂
  2. Comment below about your favorite part of the season or share one of your own favorite photos.

That’s it!! Easy, right?

Extra points toward your entry will be awarded for:

  • sharing this post
  • following me on Instagram
  • subscribing to this blog

text_450The winner will be announced in my first newsletter, along with my recipe for Sweet Hands Sugar Scrub, an exclusive “interview” with my swoonworthy hero in my romantic comedy, Text Me, Maybe, among other surprises.

Let’s hear it for summer’s little sister!

#mondayblogs


Pin It For a Chance To Win It!

Pin it to Win it! I don’t know about you, but every winter about this time I get a tad antsy. I’m ready for a little excitement, a little something unexpected…a little fun.

AND if, like me, you’re unable to gallivant off on an exotic vacay whenever the whim strikes you,but you’d still appreciate a wee bit of me-time, why not do what I do? Escape home to a romantic read…

Pin it to Win it
https://www.pinterest.com/jolysebarnett/

 

Playing “Pin it To Win it!” could get you a free copy of ONE MORE SUNSET, my Key West romantic suspense!

Yeah, I’m a voracious reader, too! A few of the HOT destination romances I’ve devoured this winter are:

  • Life’s a Beach by Jamie K. Schmidt — This sexy little number is set in Hawaii. If you enjoy reading a racy romance with no-holds-barred sensuality, you’ll be an instant fan. I really enjoyed the plot, too. No, really, I swear. 😉
  • What the Lady Wants by Nika Rhone — Oh my, this contemporary romance brought back memories of Kevin Costner in the movie, The Bodyguard. Those mirrored sunglasses. I enjoyed the summer hanging-by-the-pool with Thea and her girlfriends and plotting how to finally get Brennan to acknowledge the girl who adored him from afar all these years. This was Nika’s debut contemporary romance with a suspense element. I’m excited to see what she has in store for us readers next.
  • Her Pirate from the Past by Caro Carson–SEXY pirate. Time-travel in South Carolina. Need I say more? Caro is a new-to-me author, and I’ll definitely check out more pirate-themed or time travel stories of hers for quick, light escapes.
  • Barefoot with a Bad Boy by Roxanne St. Claire –I’m so excited about this newest release (set in sunny Florida) by one of my go-to authors. You can bet it’s next in line on my Kindle. If you haven’t read Ms. St. Claire books before, she has dozens of incredible backlist choices. I especially enjoyed her Barefoot Bay Brides series. I’d suggest reading the prequel novella to this romance first though, FREE on Amazon Kindle. It’s self-standing. No annoying cliffhanger.
Sailboat at sunset
My cure for the winter blahs…Key West dreams.

“Pin It To Win It!” Details…

For a chance to win a signed paperback copy of my destination romance, One More Sunset, and a mystery box of escapist goodies for my WINTER BLAHS GIVEAWAY…all you have to do is:

  1. Subscribe to my spam-free newsletter.
  2. Comment below about your dream destination or hot book recommendation.
  3. Spread the love by tweeting, sharing, or pinning this blog post.

Contest Terms and Conditions…One USA entrant will be randomly selected from qualifying entries to receive the WINTER BLAHS GIVEAWAY PRIZE. Depending on total number of qualifying entries, up to three runner-up winners will be randomly selected to win their choice of ebook from the author’s backlist.  Giveaway will remain open until Sunday, March 13th and the winners will be announced on the Monday, March 14th blog. Good luck!


Romantic Comedies – Love Can Be Funny

Romantic comedies are my favorite! So when my honey gifted me a selection of romantic comedy DVDs one Valentine’s Day some years back, I was thrilled. (To read a related Valentine’s Day post that gives an overview of Leap Year, visit Love is in the Air.)

Romantic Comedies DVDs

But the best part?

As I poured over the pile of romantic comedies in the gift box, my honey uttered those four little words I was dying to hear.

“Watch one with me?” he asked.

I nodded.

“You choose.”

I held one of my favorite titles that he’d refused to watch whenever I’d suggested it. “Even this one?” I teased.

He smiled. “Sure.”

I squinted at him. “Who are you and what have you done with my husband?”

He shrugged as if to reassure me it was a non-issue.

Moving closer, I asked, “You do know what movie this is?” In an effort to jog his obvious memory lapse, I read the title and quoted him. “As appealing as watching hair grow, and—”

“And as painful as pulling it out.” He nodded. “Yeah, I remember. Why don’t you get the movie set up while I pour the wine?”

Now that is love…

Check out my other giveaway!
Check out my other giveaway!

“Okay,” I mumbled, shaking my head. The guy hated shopping but he’d trekked to the video store, scanned titles and picked ones I liked best, then stood in line and paid for them. He could’ve passed over those two titles he abhorred, but he hadn’t.

And I’d thought that after twenty-five years together, he couldn’t surprise me anymore. Slowly, I slid my selected DVD into the player.

“Ready?” My honey handed me a glass of Malbec.

I smiled, lifting the drink in a toast. “To you, the man willing to suffer emotional hardship for my viewing pleasure.”

He laughed. “It won’t be that bad.”

“No, it won’t.” I agreed, and handed over the remote—a symbol of power in our household.

He clicked Play, then hugged me close at the first strains of the movie’s soundtrack. “Love Actually?” He gazed at me. “Great movie, but we just watched this one a few weeks ago. Why’d you change your mind? You haven’t seen the other one in over a year. I bought it because I knew you’d be so excited to finally see it.”

I shrugged. “You really like this one. I can watch the other one another time, whenever I want, because of you.”

Yeah, love can be funny that way.

JOLYSE’s Favorite (movie) Romantic Comedies

Valentines Day Basic Graphic MINE

When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, French Kiss, The Holiday, Love Actually, Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, Wedding Date, Thirteen Going on Thirty, Just Like Heaven, Maid in Manhattan, Overboard, Roxanne, Sleepless in Seattle, Hope Floats, While You Were Sleeping, The Wedding Singer, The Ugly Truth, Enchanted, The Proposal, Definitely Maybe, Made of Honor, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Sweet Home Alabama,  and Leap Year.

Romantic Comedies ‘LOVE CAN BE FUNNY’ Giveaway

Now it’s your turn. Share your favorite romantic comedy OR a funny or heartwarming story about love to be entered into my “Love Can Be Funny” giveaway. One lucky reader will win a $5 Amazon Gift Card. (Winner will be announced Saturday, February 13th.)


Picture Books for Life

Picture books were scattered around me in a semi-circle as I sorted them on a cold January morning. Most would find a new home and a few, beyond repair, would go by way of the recycle bin.

My honey walked into our home’s upstairs hall where I worked. “What are you doing with those?” He pointed at the smallest stack of picture books I’d tucked next to me. “I thought you wanted to give them away so other children could enjoy them.”

I nodded at the large pile soon to be placed into a canvas tote headed for the library. “Most will. These are different. We have to keep them.”

He tilted his head. “What makes those picture books so different?” He squatted next to me and picked up the tattered book on top, then fanned its yellowed pages. “This one’s falling apart.” He wrinkled his nose. “And it’s musty.”

“So?” I said, reaching out to retrieve the book before he accidentally caused it harm. “It’s my favorite picture book.” I set the frail paperback onto the other two. “I’ve had this since I was really young.”

“That explains why it’s falling apart.” He smirked, teasing me about my recent preoccupation with my advancing years.

“Haha.” I swatted his arm. “It’s not a favorite picture book of mine as a parent or teacher, but from my perspective as a little kid. That’s what makes it extra special.”

He slid the other two books carefully from beneath the top one. “Let me guess,” he said. “These belonged to Thing 1 and Thing 2.”

I had to smile at his reference to our children, a nickname we rarely used now that the older was out of the house and our baby was a year shy of adulthood. “You’ve got it.”

He shook his head and laughed softly. “You’re such a sentimental girl.” He stood and left me alone with my thoughts.

My Four Favorite Picture Books

Picture Books Fan at Five
Kindergarten

I hadn’t saved all my favorites. One of my go-to picture books as a little girl was a beautifully crafted paperback version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. I assume the book was handed down to my younger brother and me from our older siblings. I don’t recall the specific drawing on the front cover, but I remember how large that book felt in my hands, one that seemed twice as tall as it was wide. I’d skim my fingers across the cover, the smooth gloss a contrast to the rich velvet texture of Santa’s suit. I’d always read that story aloud, loving to hear the rhythm and rhyme of the holiday poem as I dreamt about Christmas. The whimsical drawings were my tangible proof that Santa and his magic were real. I wonder if that book is still hidden away in my parents’ attic, waiting for me to reclaim it. I wonder, too, if that picture book was as special to my siblings as it was to me.

Picture Book Fan at Six
First Grade

Another picture book I treasured from a very young age was a pop-up hardcover of the fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. In fact, if I recall correctly, that story book tied with Big Wheels as my favorite birthday present the year I turned six. My grandparents arrived at my childhood home on a sunny afternoon where my family was celebrating my birthday in the back yard. I ran to greet them. Grandma exited the car, a grin on her face and a present in her hand. I couldn’t read all the words in that picture book at first, but I knew the story from kindergarten. I was amazed by the 3D pop-up that brought the events to life in my imagination and allowed me to “read” it until I learned to how to decode advanced vocabulary. By the time I was a teen, the book was well-worn and some of the pop-up sections were held together by scotch tape, but good enough to take along with me when I babysat and pulled out whenever my charges required extra entertainment. I’m pretty certain I’d have thrown the picture book away at some point before college. I located a new version of the book online recently, though. Maybe I’ll order it.

One of my Favorite Picture Books
Little Red Riding Hood Pop Up Picture Book

Like millions of other children past and present, I loved Dr. Seuss. Green Eggs and Ham was–and is–my favorite of his picture books. At one point I could recite the entire story by heart, and bet I still could if I read it a few times to refresh my memory. I don’t know if my family owned that particular picture book, but I had plenty of opportunities to read it in school or borrow it from my local library.

Picture Book The Man Who Didn't Wash His Dishes
Note the Price at Forty-Five Cents (1971)

Unlike my other favorite picture books from my early childhood, I’m unsure most of my readers would be familiar with The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes. This was also a unique book since I managed to keep track of the original and ultimately shared my childhood favorite with hundreds of students before retiring it from my classroom library about a decade ago—the binding too loose to hold its pages well. This Phyllis Krasilosky story is about a man who is too tired to do the dishes one evening after dinner. He opts to relax with his cat instead. (Who wouldn’t, right?) Well, the next night the man puts off doing the chore again, and again the next night and so on. Until one evening, he can no longer avoid the work. The work is tremendous, but the satisfaction he feels upon its completion makes that night hanging out with his cat all the more rewarding. He never shirks his work again and stays organized and happy. That idea of taking care of the little things to prevent them from interfering with quality of life appealed to my Virgo personality and evolved into my mantra of as an adult.

Picture Book text and illustrations

My Children’s Top Pick Picture Books

Picture Book Filled with Humor
A Funny Picture Book

My daughter’s favorite book as a preschooler was The Wee Puppy Who Wouldn’t Go To Sleep by Jane B. Mason, a story with an adorable, stubborn character (much like our daughter) who learned to go to sleep when told (which our daughter eventually did). On the other hand, my son’s favorite read as a little guy was Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, a Caldecott winner by Mo Willems. Our son says he loved it so much because the pictures and words made him laugh. I agree that’s a pretty good reason to like a story.

Picture Book With a Lesson
Adorable story with a lesson

As I turned down the sheets to crawl into bed later that evening, I noticed something out of place on my bookshelf. I walked over to take a closer look. Well, what do you know?, I thought. My non-sentimental, minimalist spouse must’ve retrieved the three picture books from the storage bin in the attic while I’d been at the library.

It’s your turn. What were your favorite picture books as a child?

 


Giveaway to Celebrate Holiday Book Promotion

In the mood for a giveaway? To kick off our special promotion of my holiday romance, Christmas Light, at 99 cents, my publisher featured me on their blog today!

Here’s a taste to whet your appetite:

Adirondack Christmas

I was born and raised in upstate New York, one of five children living with our hard-working, loving parents in a large clapboard house, painted white. Come December each year, our large yard, where we enjoyed Sunday summer picnics with our extended family, would be blanketed in snow. And there’d be a special magic in the air…

Most every house in my childhood Adirondack village decorated for the season, Christmas trees glowing bright through front windows and strands of lights outlining houses—from the farm homes on the country back roads to the houses huddled together in the center of our quaint little town.Christmas Light Promotion with Giveaway

An evergreen wreath with a velvet red bow on our front door welcomed friends and family into our home. Our freshly cut tree would be draped with strings of popcorn and cranberries, mounds of silvery tinsel, and treasured ornaments unpacked from brown boxes stored in the attic.

On Christmas morning, my younger brother and I always woke first and would tiptoe downstairs to find our tree overflowing with presents. We’d read the tags and giggle with excitement whenever we found one of our names, but we dared not touch. Against Dad’s rules. We also knew the true meaning of Christmas wasn’t in the gifts inside those wrapped boxes, but all around us in the love we shared and in God’s love and his Son he sent to save us…

Giveaway

To read the rest, get a recipe and the chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, hop on over to the Tule blog.

Happy reading and good luck!

oxo, Jolyse


Gift Ideas for Black Friday

Heart Pendant Silhouette with Red Twinkling Background
Heart Silhouette

Welcome to my first Jolyse’s Friday Find post. Since this also happens to be Black Friday, the coolest shopping day of the year for all my bargain and gift hunting friends, I’ve decided to include more than one of my favorite discoveries this week. Enjoy!

Jolyse’s Choice for Coolest Gadget Gift of 2015

Do you have a bunch of peeps on your gift list and you want to impress but don’t want to break the bank? Check out the Tile, a tech gift anyone can use–from your uber-cool twenty- and thirty-something nieces and nephews to your eighty-something parent. From my research, the device is reasonably priced at $25 for one. A pack of 12 is $17.50 per Tile, or $15 a Tile on Black Friday. Since the battery is sealed within the little unit, owners receive an email eleven months after activation with the opportunity to order a new one at a reduced price. (Currently, Tile owners are offered a replacement at $12 and are sent a prepaid envelope to return the old Tile for recycling). The company appears to provide great customer service with a replacement warranty if a Tile doesn’t perform as stated for the year. I like the premise of this little gadget and think it has potential down the road for more uses, the concept of a community of Tile users helping each other locate lost or stolen items for each other just one of the possibilities. That’s just plain cool in my book.

Gift for Multi-Taskers

There are many organizers and planners out there, but I’d highly recommend Erin Condren planners. My friend, Jeannie Moon, gave me one for Christmas last year and I’m hooked. How can I not use it? It’s pretty, sturdy, functional and personalized to fit my needs. I can organize my home life, my day job, my writing life, and my health/fitness goals all in one book. It’s too large to misplace but small enough to fit in a larger purse or briefcase/backpack. Oh, and the Black Friday sale has 30% off selected items.

Gift for Car or Truck Owners

I first spied this practical gift idea on TV last weekend–the HALO Bolt Portable Charger and Car Jump Starter and immediately thought of buying it for my sixteen-year-old son. (Shhh. Don’t tell him!) He has been quite nervous during bad weather ever since Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy hit our region, the latter storm having knocked out our home’s power for eight days. He’d like the light  on the charger in addition to the charger for his phone and other electronic devices. I think women may like the jump starter aspect. I know I do.

Gift for Readers

If you’re the type of person who reads anything and everything available, from the back of the cereal box at the kitchen table to the toothpaste tube while hanging out in the bathroom doing your thing, I suspect you’d agree with me that books are books, whether print or ebook. I’m the happy owner of a Kindle Paperwhite I received for Mother’s Day this past May, but the newest version released this summer’s on Black Friday sale for $99 dollars.  If you want to splurge, Kindle has once again improved their technology with the Kindle Voyage at $199.  It’s super-thin at 7.6 mm and weighs only 6.4 oz, about an oz. less than the Paperwhite.

Gift for Writers

Like many writers, I go weak at the knees when I enter a stationery or arts & school supplies store. Always have. I’ll write on napkins, in cheap spiral notebooks, whatever’s handy when the muse strikes, but Moleskine makes my favorite journal. I always carry a small, ruled one everywhere with me and keep another on my nightstand. The plain, small notebooks are perfect for anyone in your life who like to doodle, sketch, and write observations, ideas, lists, or whatever their creative little hearts desire. (Think unusual stocking stuffer! You could pair it with a cool pen or three.) For Black Friday sales, go to moleskine.com. They’re also offering free shipping for orders of $30 and more.

Now it’s your turn. What Black Friday or holiday gift giving ideas have you found?

 

 

photo credit: Darker Hearts via photopin (license)


GoodReads Quiz and Book Giveaway

How well do you know your holiday romances?

Take the quiz and find out! Tule Publishing offers a great selection of Christmas-themed stories from some of today’s best authors. We’ve gathered together to create a quiz–- strictly for fun!–-to entice you to pick up more romances to warm up your winter nights. Take a peek and play along…

No matter your score, you’ll automatically be entered in our Christmas Jackpot giveaway with a book from every participating author! That’s TWELVE books and some of them are offering boxed sets. That’s even MORE holiday reading for you! Winner will be announced December 15th. Have fun and happy ho-ho holiday reading!  oxo Jolysetulequizgraphic1-300x234

 

Goodreads Quiz
Name the Tule Christmas Title!
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