‘Tis the Season to Read Giveaway

Smile! You’re visiting the Noracast on a good day, no—a great day. Why?

As luck would have it, today begins the ‘Tis the Season to Read Giveaway! Curling up on a frigid winter night in your favorite, old chair with hot tea and a treat or two by your side is only made better with the addition of a fabulous book. For me, this means the book is usually a paranormal adventure romance, a fantasy complete with breathtaking locations, or maybe a science fiction journey filled with enough horrific moments to keep the zzz’s away. Yes! I’d easily trade in sleep  for memorable moments conjured up by my imagination that were inspired by authors who know how to spark curiosity and the promise of a grand adventure if I keep turning the pages.

Prizes? One winner will receive my supernatural/thriller “The Twelfth Paladin,” plus a $25.00 dollar Amazon or Book Depository gift card to spread the joy of reading just a bit during the holiday season. The book is available in print, e-book, or Kindle. This is an international giveaway. Random.org will choose the winner from the total number of entries.

The Twelfth Paladin

In “The Twelfth Paladin,” good against evil battles as an angel, demons, and a temptress extraordinaire, named Rachel Darnell, vie for the soul of Jake Cottrell. Jake foolishly dares Hell to burn him. Hell agrees.

Scarred with angelfire by a rebellious angel, named Micah, Jake Cottrell is sanctioned to become the twelfth paladin in Micah’s supernatural unit of slayers. However, regret abounds as Micah is banished and ordered to protect what he now despises…a human he believes is unworthy of such an honor. Never fear, Jake is a seeker of mischief who soars on a blistering blacktop to escape the wrath of Hell while he transforms into the twelfth paladin.

How to ENTER? It’s easy! In “The Twelfth Paladin,” Jake Cottrell has a difficult time learning to count his blessings, like his family and friends…until they are placed in jeopardy because of his actions. This is the time of year many of us take pause to be extra thankful for our loved ones and for the opportunities we have to be productive. To enter: remind us all of something or someone to be thankful for. ‘Tis the season to celebrate and share our resources and time! This giveaway ENDS on December 7, 2012, so the gift card can be used in time for Christmas.

 Happy holidays, and thanks for visiting the Noracast!

Nora Weston

Twitter: almostsanelady

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THANKS to everyone who entered. The 8th comment, SPAV, is the Winner…congrats!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas winner

 

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Twice is Nice in November

November. This is the month I must fight like the chickens, um…dickens, (although chickens can really fight) to keep a good sense of humor while trying to locate any sanity still left in my numb brain as I prepare for the holidays. Even though I simply cannot get warm enough November through March, I must still acknowledge the holiday season should always be filled with goodhearted activities that bring friends and families closer. Being thankful is easier to remember to do in November because of the Thanksgiving holiday, which brings to mind our freedom, and loved ones, yet the simple things in life…like hanging out with your kids or helping a neighbor are also highly valued. Below, you’ll see what I’m thankful for today, but I really could write a book about the blessings I’ve received throughout my life.

Family and Friends: I have six kids, a hubby who is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known, and two unbelievably mischievous dogs (Mushu and Tashi) who keep my life running at a marathon pace. My parents, siblings, and friends are kind plus entertaining, and thank heavens…tolerable of chaos, which comes with a clan like mine!

Electricity: Oh, I know, this may seem like a crazy one since electricity is nothing new, but without electricity, I’d have migrated to the south, because my electric blanket would be useless. Sad to say, my bedroom (in every house we’ve lived in) seems haunted, or…as I’ve said before, I’m actually a vampire! My bedroom is always the coldest room in the house no matter what the thermostat says.

Hot Tea: I will never disclose how much hot tea I drink in a day, but it is a lot. I’m not saying I’d kill for a good cup of tea, but…well, maybe I would. It does not matter to me if it is spring, summer, autumn, or winter—I must have it, and I’m so thankful there is something as simple as hot tea to help kill a bit of the cold.

Books! Well, of course, I’m thankful for books. “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas is my favorite. It has adventure, lust, murder…revenge, just everything that makes a great book. I almost always read paranormal romance, science fiction, horror, or fantasy, although history books are something I can get lost in quite easily too.

Now, on to the fun! The Twice is Nice in November contest (November 8-30) has begun. Leave a comment about something you are thankful for. It can be serious or humorous because I’m sure all comments will bring a smile to someone’s face. The winner of this contest (US/Canada) will win a print copy of “The Twelfth Paladin,” PLUS that same winner will also WIN a print copy for a friend because it’s time to get ready for the holiday season.

If you’re an International visitor, feel free to enter! The International winner will receive the e-book, as will that winner’s friend. I’d love to have both a US/Canada winner and an International winner. Questions? noraweston.nw@gmail.com

If you enjoy books about good versus evil, angels and demons, and all things supernatural…please enter!

The Twelfth Paladin 

Good against evil battles as angels, demons, and a temptress extraordinaire, named Rachel Darnell, vie for the soul of Jake Cottrell. Jake foolishly dares Hell to burn him. Hell agrees.

Scarred with angelfire by a rebellious angel, named Micah, Jake Cottrell is sanctioned to become the twelfth paladin in Micah’s supernatural unit of slayers. However, regret abounds as Micah is banished and ordered to protect what he now despises…a human he believes is unworthy of such an honor. Never fear, Jake is a seeker of mischief who soars on a blistering blacktop to escape the wrath of Hell while he transforms into the twelfth paladin.

Check out the book trailer! The Twelfth Paladin

Thank you for visiting the Noracast.

Greetings!

Let the Party Begin! The holiday is almost here. Are you ready to have the best holiday get together with your family and friends? If you have dinner and desserts covered, but are wondering how else to entertain your guests…then scroll on down.

First, a few tips.

-Relax! A host or hostess who opens the door with a smile on his or her face is the best asset a party can have. Things do not have to be perfect, but everyone can have a perfectly wonderful time if stress is banished from the party. At some point, nothing else can be done, so enjoy your guests.

-All walkways need to be cleared and salted for your guests. If this is something you are unable to do yourself, hire a teenager from your neighborhood.

-It’s fun to pass out Christmas party bags, plastic or paper, with candy as guests leave. These do not have to be enormous and children especially enjoy them. My favorite bags to use are the clear plastic bags that are decorated. Put a few Christmas cookies and a handful of candy in each one and you’re set.

-Extra ice is almost always a necessity at a party, so stock up. This is one item easily overlooked.

-Although your family pet is the friendliest animal you’ve ever known, it’s a good idea to make sure the party does not stress your best friend to the point where small children may provoke an incident. Allow your pet some quiet time for peace of mind.

-This is the most important tip. Invite someone to your party who would otherwise be alone. Do you know of a neighbor whose family does not have the opportunity to visit in December? Make their day with a holiday invitation.

Games/Activities:

Christmas Charades & Pictionary: Entertain your guests with Charades or Pictionary where all subjects are Christmas oriented. Great games for all ages and you can visit the link, purchase it, and be ready to play. $6.99

Christmas Jeopardy: Another printable game, this has 15 categories including Christmas trivia and Name That Tune. Christmas Jeopardy will be sure to get you’re your guests laughing while getting acquainted. $6.99

Holiday Memory Game: Place about 15 items, mostly holiday related, on a tray or in a basket. Pass it around for a few minutes. Then remove the tray or basket from the room. To make this game a true challenge, allow for some time to pass by asking each guest to say something he or she is thankful for this holiday season. Then, hand out paper and pens and instruct your guests to write down the items on the tray or basket. Provide a nice prize or special treat for the winner.

Bingo: Visit any toy store or department store and pick up a holiday version of the game or the standard version. For the winner of each round, make available a small basket of holiday lollipops. Choosing the perfect lollipop will delight that child. When the game concludes, make sure each child ends up with a lollipop as well.

Christmas Card Making: Kids can quicklyget bored at a party where adults are visiting, so why not set up a card table with crayons, washable markers, construction paper, and stickers. (Skip the glue and scissors if the kids are very young.) Ask the kids to make a few cards for people they know. Kids think it’s fun to use holiday cookie cutters for templates and/or pieces of holiday paper to cut objects from for decorating. This can keep kids busy for quite some time.

Movie Stations: If you have several places in your home where kids and adults can watch movies, place a basket at each location for people to choose from. This way, if some of your guests need a break from talking, they can relax and watch a holiday movie or an all time favorite of yours. This works especially well if your party starts early in the day and then carries on into the night.

Crazy Eights, Hearts, Gin Rummy, Scopa: This is a super way to keep your guests entertained. Provide a few card tables in various rooms and stock each table with snacks and different kinds of card games. It would be wise to have a table just for kids since they will want to get in on the action too.

Memories-in-the-Making: Since a host or hostess will not have much time to take photographs, provide some disposable cameras for guests to use so the party will be remembered by all. Kids love to document the day by taking pictures. Some older kids can make good use of a digital camera and upload the pictures so they are ready to print in no time.

Photo Album Look-Back: Such an easy thing to do! Place some photo albums filled with family/holiday pictures on a few coffee tables. Much laughter and many smiles will occur as your guests visit the past.

 Merry Christmas!

Greetings!

Dashing to the Laptop

Now weeks away, Christmas and Hanukkah may be on the minds of many as the task of gift-giving draws near. Do not fear. No need to drive to any outlet or mall—dash to your laptop instead.

Remember, gift-giving can be as easy as eating pumpkin pie if you take note of these tips and visit the links below.

 -Shop according to your budget. This is vital for good mental health during and after the holiday season. If your budget is tight, relax. Go back to the way things used to be. Bake some goodies for someone or offer your time as a gift; just show you care. That’s what really matters.

-Make a list and check it twice. It’s easy to forget who you’ve shopped for and who is left on your holiday agenda.

-Write down everything purchased and keep all receipts in one place. Get gift receipts if possible.

-Consider a person’s age, job, hobbies, and entertainment likes and dislikes as guides to shopping for him/her. Toys have labels noting the appropriate ages for that toy. A person’s job could inspire a desk accessory or wall décor item as a gift. Do you know an artist? Get some top of the line brushes and paint for him or her. Or if you’re not sure of the specific items…organizational items for a person’s hobby are cool too. Movies, books, and the latest in music releases are all terrific sources to start, but keep in mind what genres your recipients prefer. Some people would be horrified to receive a horror movie no matter how much it was praised.

-Keep in mind what guardians/parents will permit as gifts. (This relates to ratings on video games, movies, etc. A six-year old child should not be playing “M” or “mature” rated video games. Be careful! Some covers look innocent. This is also relevant when purchasing music for young people.)

-Compare prices with shopzilla.com, and/or pricegrabber.com, plus go directly to Amazon, eBay, and Overstock to make sure you’re getting a deal. Watch out for shipping charges and remember Overstock has low, everyday shipping. Some websites offer free shipping depending upon how much is spent.

 Click Away for a Perfect Shopping Day

American Museum of Natural History (AMNH): Find educational gifts that are truly beautiful. Check out Deck of Stars which opens up 40 major constellations, plus other stars, galaxies, and mysteries of the night sky with glow-in-the-dark spotter cards. The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking is also a brilliant choice for gift-giving. The AMNH offers up awesome calendars and posters, plus many other gift ideas as well. Just imagine how pleased a teacher would be to receive a gift from the AMNH.

Zazzle.com: Visit this website to buy stunning photography and posters that will surely please your recipients. Zazzle.com offers custom postage stamps that ship in 48 hours and their gift ideas start at $5.00.

SERRV: Handcrafted items like tapestries, wooden bowls, jewelry, baskets, and serving trays…absolutely different from what you’d pick up at the mall. Make a purchase from SERRV and help artisans in developing countries. Read about their mission to eradicate poverty. SERRV is a nonprofit organization.

 Container Store: The deal is sealed tight at the Container Store. Check out various gift ideas including containers for the kitchen, storage, and office. A favorite is the Salad Blaster Bowls.

 Personal Creations: They specialize in gifts personalized with initials and names, which definitely make a gift memorable. They have doormats, wall décor, apparel, jewelry and many other splendid gift ideas.

 eBay: Great website to find gifts, but consider sellers’ ratings and read the reviews posted about him/her. Also take a look at the sellers’ refund policies, shipping costs, and notice if the item in question is new, refurbished, or used.

 Amazon: Shop until your face hits the keyboard! Amazon’s prices are worth checking.

 Overstock: Let your fingers do the walking on the keyboard and try Overstock. Stress free shopping at its best with low shipping costs. Do remember to check if your electronic device is new or refurbished.

 Enjoy the holiday season!

 

 

 

Greetings!

Nightmare before Christmas

A blazing fire warms the TV room while Notting Hill loads in the DVD player. Cinnamon scented candles glow as a huge bowl of popcorn, lightly dribbled in butter and salt, is placed on the coffee table. Eight of us rush to find a seat, but Mushu, our black Shih Tzu/Chihuahua has gone nuts and leaps from the couch onto the coffee table…whereby the popcorn takes on the appearance of snowflakes as it scatters about. Tashi, the older Shih Tzu barks loud enough to scare Brenna resulting in her hot chocolate to spill on the end table. The carpet feels neglected, so it demands some of the hot chocolate to moisten it, which is an easy request for the hot drink.

Twenty minutes later, the popcorn is cleaned up and the carpet is denied a lovely stain. Both dogs are sitting on top of the couch looking relaxed. Eight of us rush to find a seat. Notting Hill loads as my family settles down to finally watch a movie.

Ah…nothing beats this. We’re all together on Christmas Eve. After grabbing a handful of popcorn, I cover up with a thick blanket feeling happy, because I’m ready for the holiday.  

Out of nowhere, faint light from a distance catches my attention. I stand up as my heart pounds. Do my eyes deceive me? No. The light magnifies, until two beams of light flood the TV room.

Then I hear that sound.  You know it, I’m sure. It’s the hushed, yet alarming sound of car doors as they shut.  

The popcorn falls from hand as my thoughts race. Company, tonight? Seconds later, I open the door to see my lovely guests have arrived and they’ve brought the most beautiful presents.

My eyes open. Relief replaces the fear that I’ve forgotten someone during the holiday.

Yes, that is a nightmare and one that I don’t want to happen. However, it could manifest all the same if I’m not careful. To prevent this nightmare, I must put on my soothsayer cape and predict the future. Usually, two, or three, unexpected…but absolutely wonderful guests, holding beautiful gifts, will pop in over the holiday for a short visit. They are thrilled to catch up on family news, eat with us, and even tolerate the crazy dogs.

These surprise visits add excitement to the holiday season and I welcome them. People are more important than things…but I feel better knowing I have something unique for them as well.

If this nightmare looms in the back of your mind, take charge. Prepare a few, extra baskets with wine, treats, and a great movie to give away when needed the most. The baskets look fantastic if you wrap them up in shrink plastic and place a huge bow and ribbons on them. Tie some Christmas ornaments around the bottle of wine. Baskets are always a good choice, but extra holiday bags will work as well. Use your imagination to create just a handful of gifts that will provide peace of mind.

Most importantly, expect the unexpected with a cheerful heart. If people drop by for a visit, that is what they need the most.

If you have any holiday tips, fell free to leave a comment.

Thanks for visiting!