2013 Mistletoe Madness

HolidayGiveaway2013 copy


Christmas is a big event in my family, we have a lot of different customs, from our in-home Advent service every Sunday night (my oldest Skype’s to join us), an Advent calendar, cookies, Chex Mix, and cheese balls to hand out to co-workers. Then there are the cream puffs for Christmas Eve, appetizers through mid-afternoon on Christmas Day, and table gifts for breakfast and dinner. Have you noticed a theme here? Yep, food is what makes us happy. LOL

In honor of my family’s traditions, I thought I’d share the cheese ball recipe we use to make personal gifts for neighbors, colleagues, and friends.

Belvia’s Cheese Ball

16 oz Cream cheese, softened
4 oz Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 oz Crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup Shredded onion
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1. Combine all ingredients well. Chill. 2. When ready to serve, roll in chopped nuts.

A Bluestocking ChristmasWhy not whip up this easy-to-make cheese ball, then sit down to munch while you read my holiday novella A Bluestocking Christmas.
Click Here
to read the first couple of chapters!

And what would a blog Hop be without a few giveaways. Here’s my offering.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click on all the sites listed below for more chances to snag a free book or other goodie. And don’t forget to visit the Mistletoe Madness Blog hop 2013 main page to enter to win the Grand Prize! Click Here


PJ Schnyder Laura Kaye Christi Barth
Katee Robert Monica Burns Christina Wolfer
Cat Johnson Delphine Dryden Vivi Dumas
Gabriella Edwards Dana Marie Bell Christine dAbo
Stephanie Flash Burke Romance with Flavor Simply Ali
Joyfully Reviewed Books Make Me Happy Literary Escapism
Sinfully Tasty Reads Romancing Rakes For The Love of Romance Thats What Im Talking About
Read-Love-Blog The Book Tart Trinity Blacio
Eliza Knight Leah Braemel Jodi Redford
Anna Daye Sarah Grimm Ambrielle Kirk
Emma Shortt Zany PNR Addict In The Pages of a Good Book
Tara Kingston Mina Vaughn, Author Hilary Storm, Author
Andrea Michelle Kiss And Tell Reviews C. Margery Kempe



Val Griswold-Ford Heather Long, Author Nicole Zoltack
Robyn Neeley Whos Reviews AllisonGamblin.com
Books Make Me Happy Tiffany Allee the passionate reader
Amy Joy Lutchen Misa Buckley Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences
Tonya Burrows Selena Laurence Rachel Rawlings
TrulySimplyPink Kary Rader Kait Ballenger


Hot Dude Day – Heroes Come Fully Clothed

Not all hot dudes are bare chested and buff. Some of the hottest dudes are sexy just in who they are and what they do.

Party & Giveaway


Stop by my FB Page each day this week for an amazing lineup of events to celebrate “Two Shades of Seduction” being on sale. Starting Monday there will be interviews with me, excerpts, and a chance to win one of four prizes each day of the week!! Just check out the daily posts and click on the giveaway tab on the Facebook page to enter. 

Two Shades of Seduction is a Box Set of two steamy full-length stories featuring two men skilled in the ways of seduction and two older heroines strong enough to resist them.

Love's RevengeBook 1: Love’s Revenge

All her life, Sophie’s tried to earn her father’s love to no avail. Firmly on the shelf at forty-one. Sophie accepts her fate until she impulsively uses her father’s criminal activities to escape a life of servitude and right a wrong at the same time. But she never expected the Devil of Devlyn to accept her rash proposal, and she certainly hadn’t planned on falling in love with a younger man.
\When Sophie Hamilton, the eldest daughter of his worst enemy shows up on the Earl of Devlyn’s doorstep with an unexpected offer, Devlyn seizes the chance for vengeance. What he doesn’t bargain on is how revenge could cost him the one thing he wants the most. Sophie’s love.
Book 2: Love’s Portrait

Love's Portrait

When Julia Westgard commissions a nude portrait of herself, the painting is much more than a rebellious act. It’s an attempt to regain her self-worth after years of a loveless, repressive marriage to her late husband. But the private portrait puts her directly in thepath of Morgan St. Claire. A man who doesn’t take no for an answer.
From the first moment Morgan sees Julia’s portrait, he’s determined to have her. But the woman he meets is a far cry from the image on canvas. What starts out as a simple exercise in seduction quickly evolves into a quest to reveal the true Julia. With each sensual encounter, he employs every weapon at his disposal in hopes of making Julia see she really is the woman in Love’s Portrait.


On Sale at all your major ebook retailers!!!

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A bestselling author of spicy historical and paranormal romance, Monica Burns penned her first short romance story at the age of nine when she selected the pseudonym she uses today. Her historical book awards include the 2011 RT BookReviews Reviewers Choice Award and the 2012 Gayle Wilson Heart of Excellence Award for Pleasure Me. She is also the recipient of the prestigious paranormal romance award, the 2011 PRISM Best of the Best award for Assassin’s Heart. From the days when she hid her stories from her sisters to her first completed full-length manuscript, she always believed in her dream despite rejections and setbacks. A workaholic wife and mother, Monica believes it’s possible for the good guy to win if they work hard enough.


Monica is a survivor, and it’s a topic she has become well versed in. A survivor of date rape at the age of 19, writing erotic romance has aided her in the life-long process of healing. Her writing has helped her reclaim some of her self-worth, and you can read her story here.


Monica has suffered from bipolar disorder since childhood, but was not diagnosed until much later in life. The condition according to the National Institute of Mental Health affects 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6% of the population (18 years and older).


Her most recent tale of survival is her diagnosis of the genetic disorder Long QT syndrome and subsequent heart defibrillator implant. Her determination to overcome these challenging life experiences is a reflection of her belief that there truly are happily ever afters. Writing romance is a therapeutic process as it allows Monica to explore the themes of hope, trust and love in her work. She believes romance books empower women to believe in themselves and that their only limitations are the ones they set for themselves.
Monica is a two-time RT Reviewers Choice Award nominee, the 2011 PRISM’s Best of the Best winner, two-time EPPIE nominee, a 2009 EPPIE for Best Erotic Historical Romance. She is a 2012 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence finalist as well as a 2005 RWA Golden Heart finalist. She has consistently earned top reviews from RT BOOKreviews and other reviewers.
Monica holds a bachelors of science degree from Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Mass Communications.
Website  |  Facebook  |  Author Page  |  Goodreads  |  Blog


Avoiding Censorship

There are just some pictures too hot for Facebook. I’ve already had one photo pulled, and I don’t want it to happen again. So I give you this gem for Hot Dude of the Day!!!

There is NO Red Room of Pain, only Golden Straw Colored ones

There is NO Red Room of Pain, only Golden Straw Colored ones

Are you new to my website? Be sure to check out my books and excerpts. I write about hot, sexy, undressed heroes like this. And I do mean undressed! :D

How to Get Your Facebook Friends/Pages Back

Facebook has stopped putting my posts in most of my readers’ news feeds. They want me to pay for my posts to appear in your news feeds. Even when I pay for Facebook to drop my posts in your news feed, they don’t do it for everyone!

SO, If you want to see my regular posts (such as Hot Dude Days, Chatty Tuesdays, etc.) you’ll need to get me into your news feed. The step-by-step instructions for doing that are below. There are two options: Subscribe or Interest Lists. Either one of these two options will ensure you see my posts as well as how you want to see them in your Facebook news feed. They’re just a matter of choice. Continue reading

The Synopsis or the “Calculus Just Is” Moment

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post for RWA Online’s blog that I still find useful for my own personal writing benefit. I thought I’d share it again here on my blog.

Synopsis From Hell

I despise synopsis writing. I’m a pantser, and I’d never written a synopsis BEFORE finishing the book. But a couple of weeks ago, I found myself in the uncomfortable position of needing to write a synopsis for a book where I’d only written 50 pages.

Writing this synopsis was ten times worse than writer’s block. All I could do was sit at the screen and wonder what to put on the page. I know how to write a synopsis, when the book is already written. That’s easy for me, but how was I supposed to write one BEFORE I’d written the ending. Now I had written about 50 pages of the book, but it still didn’t help me much figuring out what to include in the synopsis. Sure I had an “idea” of what the black moment might be like, but what else did I need?

Outlines – Fault Lines

I don’t follow a formula, outline, etc. when I write. Words just flow out of me, and then I go back and edit. But you can’t do that with a synopsis. Think of it as being a map. A map for what direction the book is headed in. I’d never drawn a book map before, so I went surfing on the net. I figured, hey someone out there has an idea for how to write a synopsis.

Now you’d think Google or Dogpile would yield tons of results on how to write a synopsis. Umm, no. Either I wasn’t spelling synopsis correctly or there the knowledgebase was running a little dry. But then I found her!

Alicia Rasley

She had this wonderful article on the three acts found in a book. http://www.sff.net/people/alicia/artthreeacts.htm

So here I was reading the article, and suddenly it was like being in calculus class. If you’ve ever taken calculus, you know that understanding it requires you to accept the fact that “it just is.” A concept I found difficult to grasp until two weeks before the end of the semester. The lightbulb came on! It was wonderful. I could finally accept that calculus just is.

I share that with you because when I was reading Alicia’s article, I had one of those “calculus just is” moments. Here it was in black and white. Everything I needed to go into my synopsis. Alicia had laid it all out for me. The result was magic for me. I took the headings from Alicia’s article, and opened a document in Word, where I listed the primary points from the article.

Initiating Event
External Conflict Emerges
Antagonist Shows Up
Conflict Rises
The Reversal
The Point of No Return
The Dark Moment
The Climax
The Resolution

Under each header, I wrote a brief blurb, scene, explanation for the action that occurs under the header. I did this for each one all the way through to The Point of No Return or it might have been Crisis. I can’t remember. Anyway, I’m thinking, WTF do I do now??? For two days I couldn’t write another word. I was in the dark about how to finish the damn thing. Then it hit me. Why not work backward! I had a basic idea of how I wanted the book to end, so I essentially worked my way back to get those last scenes in my head.

The Resolution

In the process, I wrote one of the best synopses I’ve ever written. Now the process outlined above may or may not help you write a synopsis, but as I tell my kids, you have to at least try it. If you don’t like it then you eat or do something else. While it might seem like a formula, it isn’t really. It’s just a list of the necessary ingredients that have to go in a book and the writer has to add in those same ingredients to a synopsis. It’s taken me five long years to have my “calculus just is” moment when it comes to synopsis writing, but now that I have, it’s going to be a lot easier from here on out.

How Bad Was Your Day, Honey?

I can truly say that yesterday has to be one of the worst I’ve had in an extremely LONG time. A total comedy of errors. I can laugh now, but O-M-G.
Boss’s FedEx package in mailroom Tue never got picked up, EVEN THOUGH I called them. Didn’t help that I know the receptionist didn’t bother to question the fact that a FedEx package wasn’t picked up after one day. I will not define what I think of her at this point. Color Boss a bit purple with apoplexy as it was an important document.

The Head Boss wanted information that I couldn’t find for about an hour. She wasn’t too happy with me. Color a black cloud hanging over my head. Beginning to wish I was on Nurse Ratched’s psych ward, because at this point in the day (oh, only an hour into the work day), that might not be a bad thing. At least there you get drugs. Pass the valium please.

When I told boss I was leaving at 4pm, she wanted to know what time I got in because I wasn’t at my desk when she called at 9:30am. I patiently explained that I was working on something for the Head Boss down in the file room. Oh, okay, that’s all right then. WTF??? I worked almost 10 hours straight and no lunch on Tue, Wed took my normal hour lunch, and I’d had NO lunch today because I was too busy doing my normal work on top of the baby shower the Boss insisted we have for coworker.

Love my coworker, but I’m not wild about mass social events at the office. I didn’t get to leave work until 4:30pm, which put me in the garage about 4:45pm. Despite being late, I was really glad not to be the suspect two police cars had chased down at the end of the street. Although when I think about it, maybe the suspect had drugs…ok I don’t need drugs, I need alcohol. Seriously I don’t drink much at all, but at this point, I’m wishing I had a bottle of something in the car!

Head up I-95 to Lora Leigh’s Reader’s Appreciation Weekend. Excited to see my friends, meet readers and make new friends. Naturally, I’m thinking music will help me decompress, but all I want is some quiet. So I drive without songs. Suddenly, I’m thinking, waiting I could probably have my Kindle read to me…rut roh, I left not only the Kindle at home, but my iPad at home too! Ok, I can deal with withdrawal from Kindle, but the iPad is going to take some doing. I start fidgeting in my seat.

It’s just an iPad, you can live without it for a weekend, Monica. You have the laptop. No, the iPad is portable. I need to be able to look things up. Use your phone Monica. The screen is too small, I need the iPad. For crying out loud Monica it’s technology. What did you do before you had all this technology? I didn’t text while driving. I finally adjust to my forgetting the iPad and settle into my drive to DC.

Traffic has smoothed out, I’m feeling calm and completely relaxed, thinking wow, this is really unusual for I-95 and I-495 to have such low traffic at 6pm at night. I’ll be at the hotel by 10pm. WOOT Suddenly out of nowhere, brake lights. LOTS of brake likes. Have you ever noticed that some cars, when their brake lights are on, look very evil??? Almost like they’re grinning at you, tell you, yep, your time is coming.

It was like I was entering the gates of hell, with about 800 to a 1000 cars sitting still with their evil brake lights winking at me. This parking lot goes on for about 20 miles to the Maryland border. So I’m sitting there, and I glance over ohhhh, a Barnes and Nobel and it’s TWO stories high!!! Wish I could get off and go chill for an hour, but think no. I’ll stay the course. An hour and a half later, I’ve gone 45 miles roughly. B&N would have been a nice layover. How do people up there have lives outside of work and being in their cars??

I’m still waiting in traffic, noting that all this time there are two beautifully paved lanes on the other side of these wobbly things keeping you from getting in those lovely lanes. Clearly these are new lanes that haven’t been opened up although they sure look tempting. Then straight out of the blue, it happens. One, whoosh, Two, whoosh, dozen whooshes. CARS are flying by me in those pristine lanes. Looked like they were test cars or something. A week from now, I’m betting those lanes will be open. Day later and a dollar short.

Traffic eases up and by now it’s 8pm and I’m starved. I was craving Sonics really bad, wanted Limeade. They’re so awesome, but couldn’t find one, so I settle for KFC. I place my order for a breast and thigh. They hand it over; I pull into a parking space to eat. Open box, no breast. Go back to the window. Sorry, ma’am we’re all out of Original Recipe breasts. Okay. The Gods are having their fun for the day at my expense. It’s it okay I can take a joke.

Back on the road, it starts to rain. That’s okay at least my windshield wipers are new. I can handle a little rain. It rains harder, but that’s okay, traffic’s light, which means less probability of accident. What was a light rain now becomes a double frog strangle. I’m passing a car and suddenly a tsunami hits the windshield. I can’t see anything, not even the hood of my car. Fortunately, the one place I never panic is in the car. I simply eased up on the gas until I could see again and pass the car who’d assaulted mine with the massive waterfall.

I’ve passed the car and suddenly hear a loud roar along the side of my door. OMG I’m driving in massive flood watch waters. I see a tractor trailer truck coming my way on the other side of the concrete barrier separating the highway. Truck plus heavy rain plus puddles equal the perfect tsunami. That’s it, I’m a goner. Sure enough another tidal wave hits the windshield. Remember Steve Martin leaving his fingernail imprints in the car dashboard in Planes, Trains, Automobiles? My steering wheel is now bent forward because I’m using it to mentally brake the car, while instinctively NOT hitting the brake because I know I will not survive that way. I get hit with about three more tsunamis while dealing with the rain.

I keep wondering why I don’t pull over to the side of the road like every other sane person is doing. Well, Monica that would be because moving into the right lane means risking unseen water in the dark. Then it happens. I meet your friendly, next-door 18-wheeler. I like truck drivers. I respect the way they keep our nation running, and I don’t envy their long hours or the idiots who cut them off (people DO NOT understand that trucks cannot brake as easily as a car can!).

But like jerk car drivers, you get the occasional jerk truck driver. I’m rolling down a steep hill and there’s still enough water on the road to make me fish tail, when suddenly, it becomes a Stephen King movie, this truck appears out of nowhere, barreling down on me, riding my bumper flashing his lights telling me to either speed up or get out of the way. Well, I’d be happy to move over, but there’s another car in that lane. So I try to speed up but the water is starting to flow into the floor board where the door meets the base of the car. Okay maybe not that bad, but the water was a roar against the side of the car. Finally manage to escape the truck driver once I hit a stretch of road that was fairly free of water. Whew! I took my car for a 20 mile swim and I survived. Booyah.

At this point it’s 10pm and I’m still about 150 miles outside of Pittsburgh, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. How much worse could it get. Tunnels. WTF No one mentioned fricking TUNNELS on the map OR the GPS. I hate tunnels as much as I do bridges. I have no control if an earthquake happens and a bridge collapses or a tunnel caves in. So I cling to the steering wheel as I enter the tunnel with an 18-wheeler barreling along side of me.

Normally trucks don’t bother me when I run beside them. However, this tunnel was built about the time of Julius Caesar and chariots back then weren’t as large as they are now. This 18-wheeler is one of those souped up jobs with a really wide cab. You know the kind, king-size bed in the upper bunk, small kitchen inside, nice shower and toilet. All the comforts of home. Just one problem.

There’s me, the truck and a road that is so narrow we can barely fit together next to each other. I had visions of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in the Lincoln Tunnel scene from Men in Black where two wheels of my car are running along the side of the wall while my body is leaning to the side as I learn how to stunt drive on the fly. I do confess to always wanting to be a stunt driver, but this way isn’t exactly how I envision it. I finally get past the truck, only to realize that this tunnel has to be about five miles long. There is NO end in sight, and there are MORE 18-wheelers in front of me. I have a pacemaker, and I’m betting you that when I go to the cardiologist next he’s going to be able to pinpoint the exact moment I died then was shocked back into life again.

I escape the tunnel, it’s now stopped raining, there’s not much traffic, and I’ve got 40 miles to go. Whoo Hooo!! But wait, there’s more Monica! Let’s see what you’ve won! Brake lights….BRIGHT RED…brake lights. So I wait and wait for traffic to move forward. First I think it’s an accident, then I see signs of construction. Then I see it. The mammoth hole in front of me. It’s another FRICKING TUNNEL. There’s nowhere to go, no place to run to. I’m stuck. I have to enter the belly of the beast. This is another LONG ass tunnel. Now my steering wheel looks like a super-size taco shell as I struggle to emerge from the beast alive.

I arrive at the hotel. I expect a quick easy check-in. Nope there’s a line to check into my room. A line of four people at midnight! Surreal. Get my room assignment. She says I’m on the 17th floor, umm no, I asked for floor no higher than seven. Fire engine ladders don’t go higher than seven floors. She has nothing else. I’m tired, and I hate throwing fits, it’s just not good behavior, and the clerk can only do what she can do.

So I go to my room, on the way in, I pass several families loitering in the hallway of my floor about five rooms down from mine. There had to be a dozen kids and at least seven adults. They’re all laughing and having a good time. I’m thinking they’re waiting on someone to check them into their rooms. But wait, no there were only four of us in line at the front desk. I finally call the desk at 12:20 or so and ask them to get the people to tone it down. I like kids, just not when they run up and down the hall outside of my room until 1:30am.

Since it’s noisy, I figure I’ll write but the desk chair is too low, and I feel like Toulouse Lautrec trying to look up over the edge of the desk. The chair won’t raise up. Okay tomorrow I’ll have them bring a new one I’ll just go to bed. I sit down on the edge of the bed, and I’m immediately thrown back to those days when I was a kid listening to my Italian great uncles talking. Those days when the name Guido meant concrete blocks and water. I go to sleep, or try too.

Morning arrives, I’m looking forward to my breakfast. So I get in the shower. Without my glasses, I’m pretty blind. I literally have to be on top of things before I see anything. Get in the shower and suddenly I’m doing my girly girl face. There’s a long hair on the shower way, and it ain’t mine. I have short platinum blonde hair, this looks like it came off of some long haired gorilla. So I leave it, figure I’ll avoid it like the plague while I shower and then have housekeeping scour the place. Get shampoo in my eyes and I reach for the washcloth I threw over the shower rod. That’s odd, it’s really hard like it’s been dry for a couple of days.

Wipe my face with it and throw it back over the rod. Finish my shower and notice that there are three washcloths in the bathroom. One on the sink counter from the night before and the pristine one hanging from the towel bar. I look at the rag I’m holding and think, I only had two towel sets in the bathroom where did this one come from. Horrified, I realize I’d just used a washcloth the previous occupant had left over the shower rod. It had apparently gotten caught in the shower curtain when the guest pushed it back and housekeeping never realized it. Here it wasn’t funny anymore. I was really nauseated.

Call the management, they come and I deal with the whole upsetting mess. They were very nice and they moved me to a wing of the hotel that has not been opened up yet as the renovations were just completed. So I’m sitting here typing this blog, when I hear a key in the lock. Before I can call out, in barrels this uber hot maintenance man, and I mean hero worthy hot. We both look at each other like two deer caught in headlights, and I suddenly start laughing. He’s mortified, and I’m just thinking, it could be worse. He could be butt ugly, but instead he was really hot. I wish I’d gotten a picture of him before he left. I called the front desk and said, hey, would you mind letting maintenance, housekeeping and everyone else know that I’m in the new room. I don’t want to slay anyone with a book.