Male Beauty

What makes a guy attractive to women? Oh, I know, our tastes vary. Some of us like muscular guys, some like slender guys, some long hair, others like their guys with short hair. Maybe you like a strong jaw or a certain color eyes, or full lips or a rugged completion. But there are certain generalities for each era that were thought to make a man generally attractive. Looking back, we only have painting and sculptures as evidence. But generally, throughout the ages, the ideal man was muscular (and a bit more muscular during the Middle Ages to be able to support the weight of a suit of Mr-Darcy-matthew-macfadyen-as-mr-darcy-10471702-500-333armor) with classical features. In short, men were manly men. But things started to change in the 17th century when clothes became very elaborate and men sought to look fleshier in their clothes as a sign of prosperity. The 18th century took that further and added faces painted white with rouged cheeks and a powdered wig. And yes, men wore heels. With the 19th century came the dandy with corsets, heeled shoes and padded calves. (And you thought women invented padding their assets!) And don’t forget those tight breeches—think Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

I found an interesting YouTube video to show the different looks thought to be attractive in the 20th century through 2010. It’s all the same guy, who is cute, but it shows the different looks.

I remember the hippie, metro sexual, and the feminization of the male. But now, we’ve CowboyHotgone from the man bun (does anyone like that look?), to full bearded, lumberjack look. And it doesn’t end here. Our idea of ideal beauty will continue to change and evolve. Me, I like manly men, and I love a Texas cowboy—the real thing! What do you find attractive in a male?

V DAY and TBR

valentines-dayHappy Valentine’s Day! Yup, the day dedicated to romance is here. And, as you know, I love romance. After all, it’s what I write. All day long, I surround myself in stories of love. So, it’s no surprise that I love Valentine’s Day. Do you? Don’t have a Valentine? Don’t despair. There are 119 single men—never married, widowed or divorced—in their 20s for every 100 single women of the same age. But if you’re single and happy that way, you can celebrate Singles Awareness Day on February 15th.


Everybody has a TBR (To Be Read) pile, right? Well, I’m no exception. I have a huge TBR stack of books. It only seems to get higher the more I write, because my free time gets more and more scarce. But wait a minute! Reading is important. Let me repeat myself: reading is important. Even as a writer–especially as a writer. You need to keep on top of what’s popular and selling. Plus, I have so many awesome friends who are authors and I always look forward to reading their books. So, I thought I’d share a few at the top of my list, in no particular order. Some of them aren’t even out yet, but you can be sure, I’ve preordered them!

Susan C. Muller’s Autumn Secrets

51zcqYBDRAL

The harvest moon has arrived and homicide detective Noah Daugherty is drawn into one final, harrowing case when the search for clues leads him to the middle of a killing field. Desperate, he enlists the help of a woman from his past. Together they discover a serial killer, hell bent on reaping his own depraved version of social sanitation.
As Noah continues his urgent search for justice, the demented madman seems to stay one step ahead, taunting him and threatening everyone he holds dear.
Can Noah put a stop to the killing, or will he be buried along with autumn’s secrets?

 

 

 

Kerrelyn Sparks’ How To Tame a Beast in Seven Days 

51y6GbRi8NL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_As one of the Embraced―one born with magical powers―the beautiful, innocent Luciana escaped certain death after her father hid her away on the Isle of Moon. Now, to save her father, she has to marry a man feared throughout the land.

Luciana  agrees to wed the Beast―Lord Leo―in order to save her father. Soon she learns that her betrothed is also one of the Embraced–his immense power strikes fear into the hearts of men. . .and his mere touch can put an end to a woman’s life. But Luciana cannot deny the passion that burns between them. How can she resist the man who makes her feel intoxicated with desire―even if surrendering to him could destroy them both? (This one doesn’t release until March 7, 2017, but I can’t wait to read it!)

 

Colleen Gleason’s Beyond the Night

Beyond-the-Night-CoverFive men emerge from the remnants of destruction with extraordinary new powers. They are humankind’s last hope, but they cannot survive this devastated world alone. When Dr. Elliott Drake emerges from a cave after traveling fifty years through time, the world as he knew it in 2010 is gone. But Elliott has acquired an extraordinary ability–the power to heal. Jade Kapiza, who was once imprisoned by the immortal beings, has been in hiding for years. She can trust no one…but when Elliott comes into her life, he pushes at her defenses and begins to tear down the walls she’s built so carefully. Yet the mysterious doctor seems to have secrets of his own. Can Jade trust Elliott with her heart, even as they risk their lives to save a band of innocents? And can Elliott find a new place for himself–a home–in this new, ravaged world?

 

Diane Kelly’s Death, Taxes and Sweet Potato Fries: A Tara Holloway Novel

51nH9IcXxRL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_SHE HAS AN APPETITE FOR JUSTICE.
But this time IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway is in over her head―and challenging every dietary law in the book. . .

When the IRS is tasked with assisting the border patrol in pursuing unscrupulous “coyotes” who’ve transported illegal immigrants across the border, Tara finds herself at odds. Not only must she investigate Brett Ellington, her old flame whose landscaping business employs such workers, but now Tara has to convince her new romantic partner in crime, Nick Pratt, that she doesn’t still carry a torch for Brett.

 

 

Lori Wilde’s Million Dollar Cowboy

51VTFrVTqvL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_The illegitimate son of a Texas ranching dynasty, Ridge Lockhart left home ten years ago with one goal: to become more successful than the father who never accepted him. Mission accomplished, but now he’s back at the Silver Feather Ranch for a wedding—three days of best man duty until he can hightail it out. Then he spies Kaia Alzate, and suddenly leaving isn’t quite so appealing.

Kaia Alzate grew up the daughter of the ranch foreman, servants to the mighty Lockharts in the mansion. Back then, she followed Ridge around like a puppy. Now, she’s fighting the attraction she feels for this sexy CEO. She’s determined not to make a big mistake—but when Ridge takes her in his arms she’s stunned…could he be the man she’s waited for all along? (This one is comes out March 28th, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!)

Those are just a few books I can’t wait to read. I think I’ll start reading one tonight!

What books are in your TBR pile, and which ones are you most looking forward to reading? Do you have any recommendations for an author or book I should read?

Winner!!

The winner of last week’s giveaway is Brandi.  Congratulations! Brandi, you can pick any one of my books and I’ll send you an ebook to you. So email me at christie@christie-craig.com and be sure to tell me which book and if you want the NOOK or Kindle version.

 

It’s Not All about Winning

FailureYou know, in everything you do, you are going to win some and lose some.  That said, if you even just try for anything, you also win.  I know it sounds like some inspirational crap, but I’ve seen it so often in my own life and in my career. I hadn’t sold a book in over ten years, and I was writing humorous romantic suspense.  An editor told my agent, if Christie would write paranormal, I would buy her books.  So my agent asked me to write paranormal. I didn’t want to do it, because I’d never written paranormal.  But I started writing a book about witches.  I needed to write three chapters and send it in to the editor to see if she actually would buy it.  So, I finished the three chapters, and right before I sent them to my agent to send to the editor, my agent called.  The editor had phoned her and told her she was excited to see my proposal, but to make sure it wasn’t about witches. WHAT?

Einstein0So, I had to start over and write about faes. I spent another two months writing three chapters about faes.  My agent sent it out and the editors loved it, they almost bought it—but then they didn’t.  Ugh!  I felt like a loser.  I had spent four months trying to do something and failed. I wasted all that time.  I was so upset.  Right after that, my humorous romantic suspense books sold.  And I remember even thinking that I could have been writing another humorous romantic suspense instead of working those paranormal ideas that gotten me nowhere!!!  Ahh, but flash forward four years.  An editor at St. Martin’s Press was looking for some new young adult authors.  And she remembered an author she’d read that she really liked who wrote a funny book about faes.  She hadn’t been able to buy the book on Faes, but she really liked my work.  And that, my friends, is how I was asked to write Shadow Falls.  And it all came about from something that at the time, I saw as a complete, devastating failure.

Website Series Graphic dd (1)When you try something, put your heart and soul into it, when you learn something, you may not walk away with the blue ribbon, but you walk away with an experience and who knows what that experience will lead to.  So remember, It isn’t just about just winning and losing, there is also trying.  Can you think of how you tried and didn’t win the blue ribbon, but still walked away feeling like a winner?  I’ll give away one of my ebook to one person who leaves a comment.  (Sorry, this giveaway is only for US residents. If you;re reading this on Goodreads, you must leave your comment on my website blog to be entered in my giveaway.)

 

 

Winner!!

The winner of last week’s giveaway is Tracy Wisenburg. Congratulations! Please email me at christie@christie-craig.com with your mailing address AND t-shirt size.

 

Dogs or Cats? Or Both?

Most people (if they like animals) will either prefer dogs or cats. Some like and have both. According to Thought Catalog, about six percent more US households own dogs than own cats. Not only that, but in surveys dog people often outnumber cat people five to one. Why do you think that is? What are the differences between dogs and cats?

Dogs

355-happy-dogDogs are people pleasers. They want to make their masters happy and gain their approval. When you call them, they generally come to you. They enjoy playing with their masters as well as with other dogs. They require more care. You have to let them out or take them for walks.

Cats

terribly-cute-pic-cat-attitudeCats are more independent. They are as concerned with pleasing their masters. When you call them, they may or may not come to you. They also enjoy playing with their masters and with other cats. They are better suited to apartment living or living in a small house. If you have a little box, you don’t have to let them out.

 

 

I’m writing two books right now and they both have dogs in them. In my romantic suspense novel, there is a dog named Devil. He’s big, wiry in places and hairy in others.  He terribly ugly, but a sweetheart.  In my YA book there is dog named Lady—named after my own dog.  She’s a puppy, and her soft love is so healing to my characters.  I’ve used animals in my books–remember Socks, the cat? I enjoy animals in movies, too. I just read A Dog’s Purpose and loved it, and I cant wait to see the movie.

Personally, I’m an just animal person.  I love them all.   We have three cats who, because of my husband’s kidney transplant, have to live outside, but they have a dog trot and little house.  My husband accuses me of being more a dog person, and I can’t deny I might relate a little more to dogs, but seriously, I love any animal.  And the reason I use them in my books, is because I seriously believe animals make us better humans.   So tell me about your pet.  One person will win a Born to Read T-shirt. (Sorry, this giveaway is only for US residents. If you;re reading this on Goodreads, you must leave your comment on my website blog to be entered in my giveaway.)

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Goodbye to Shadow Falls

When Midnight Hour was released on Oct. 31, 2016, this interview appeared on Jennifer Mary G’s blog.  I thought you might enjoy my interview with her. I think it will mean more to those of you who have read Midnight Hour.

1.Midnight Hour is the last book in your Shadow Falls series. On your blog, you talk about the difficulty in saying goodbye to the characters. With that in mind, I wanted to ask…Which character(s) are you the most attached to and why?

It’s like in real life.  I’m attached to the characters for different reasons.  They all have parts of me in them, they have some of my traits, even some of my flaws. I spent five books with Kylie Galen.  I can honestly say, she’s more like me when I was young than the other girls.  Like Kylie, I’m an internalizer.  Even when young, I had a tendency to think something to death before I acted on it.

Della, however, she’s more like the person I’ve grown into, and often the person I wish I was more like.  She’s speaks her mind, calls it like she sees it.  I love that about her.  Ahh, but the very thing I love about her is what sometimes drives me crazy.

Miranda is smack dab in the middle of these two.  She’s kind, but can speak her mind when pushed.  But deep down she’s so insecure.  Dyslexia can do that to you.  I know, because we both share this trait.  I feel a special bond with her for this reason.  I loved watching her find herself in Midnight Hour.

But I must say, when I think about the three girls, I can’t help but to think of the boys they love.  Lucas, Chase and Perry. They all stole a part of my heart.

Then, there’s Burnett.  I love, love that guy.  In every book, I felt like I learned more about him.   If you think I have a soft spot for guys who are hard on the outside and marshmallow in the inside, well, all I can I say is guilty.

Every one of these characters feels like family.  I know, even though I won’t be writing about them, I’ll find myself mentally taking short visits to Shadow Falls.

2. The book trailer for Midnight Hour is so cool. Did you come up with the concept? Who worked behind the scenes to make the trailer come to life?

My behind-the-scenes person is R.M. Brand.  She’s a gamer, a graphic artist, a writer, an amazing and talented person and a friend.  We always begin working on a video by spending time talking about the book.  I’ll tell her the feel, the vibe that I want expressed in the video.  She takes that, uses her magic and always comes back with a winner.  She’ll pull something together and show me.  I usually offer suggestions to add an image or take an image out.  Then, we work on the script together.  And I can say, I’ve never been disappointed.

3. Miranda’s growing tattoo in Midnight Hour appears after a near-death experience. Is the symbolism of the tattoo more magical or spiritual…or is it a mix of both?

I think a little of both.  The tattoo symbolizes the birth of confidence, of acceptance.  It signifies the greatness we all have in ourselves when we move past our insecurities and learn to embrace what makes us different. It’s about discovering our inner strengths and moving past the stigma of how others perceive us.

Honestly, I do not write stories to send messages or teach lessons.  I don’t think of symbols while I write, and I don’t write to preach.  I write to entertain.  But when you get into a character’s skin, their character arc, their story always comes with an underlying message.  For Kylie, it was struggling with an identity crisis.  For Della, it was acceptance of change and dealing with those who can’t accept who and what we become.  Miranda’s message is finding self-esteem, discovering confidence and accepting our flaws.  This dyslexic witch learns that every flaw can be turned on its head and when dealt with properly, it can offer us gifts and talents.


So tell me, do you have a favorite Shadow Falls character? Why are they your favorite?

Favorite Foods

pizza2Everyone has a favorite food. I do. I absolutely love Pizza.  My favorite is veggie.  I like a thicker crust, but I know a lot of people are fans of thin crust.   I’m not a fan of Chicago style pizza with the sausage on top.  I cook my own pizza probably twice a month.  But we also order out.  I used to work at Pizza Hut so I admit it might be my favorite, but because I can only get Pappa Johns delivered, I eat a lot of it.  My son loves pineapple and jalapeno pizza.  There are some pretty weird pizzas out there. How about Mac & Cheese Pizza? Or Carrot Crust Pizza, Butternut Squash and Crispy Sage Pizza, or Spaghetti Pizza? The creepiest pizza pic I came across had scorpions on it. Surely, they can’t mean people eat that? No, I prefer mine with lots of normal pizza veggies: green pepper, onions, mushrooms, olives, etc.

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Spaghetti-Pizza

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I love Pizza so much I added it to my book Texas Hold’Em, put the recipe in the back and called it Austin’s Pizza.

Austin’s Thick Crust Pizza

Pizza Dough

1 cup lukewarm water (105–110 degrees F)

1 envelope yeast (fast-rising, if possible)

2 tablespoons sugar (3 or 4 tablespoons if sweeter dough is preferred)

1 tablespoon olive oil

¾ teaspoon salt

2 to 2 ½ cups flour

Directions

  1. Stir warm water, yeast, and ½ teaspoon of the sugar together, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand 5 to 6 minutes until yeast is dissolved.
  2. Add the oil, remaining sugar, and salt to above mixture.
  3. Slowly add flour until stiff.
  4. Knead dough 5 minutes, then cover with cloth.
  5. Let rise in warm place 1  to 1 ½ hours until it doubles in size.
  6. Poke down and use or refrigerate (dough can be frozen).

Pizza

½ cup of pizza sauce (more or less, depending on taste)

Pizza toppings: fresh veggies and meat should be lightly sautéed before garnishing pizza

Nonstick spray or 1 teaspoon of olive oil

1 ½ to 2 cups shredded pizza cheese blend or mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 475–500 degrees F.
  2. Put pizza dough in a slightly greased 9 x 11 glass or metal casserole pan or a round deep-dish pan of equivalent size.
  3. Spread pizza sauce on dough.
  4. Spread ½ cup cheese on pizza crust (bottom cheese will help keep toppings from falling off).
  5. Garnish pizza with desired toppings.
  6. Add remaining cheese on top.
  7. Cook for 9 to 12 minutes on lower rack of oven. Remove pizza when bottom crust is brown and dough is fully cooked.

Enjoy!

So, what’s your favorite food? Oh, and if you try my pizza recipe let me know if you liked it.

 

 

Favorite Gifts

I had a wonderful Christmas. I hope you did, too. My family knows me so well, they know what I like. So I got some perfect gifts, gifts that have become some of my favorite things.

18254I got some fuzzy socks and PJs from my daughter, the kind of PJs you want to spend the day in. I love writing in my PJs, especially when the weather is as chilly as it has been in Texas.

 

 

 

18245Chocolate was a big theme this year. Hey. I’m not complaining! Who doesn’t love some Godiva chocolates? The candle makes my entire house smell like I’ve been baking brownies.

 

 

 

18241My friends know on a cold night, I like to sip on something that warms me from the inside out.

 

 

 

 

18237Who doesn’t love something to snuggle up in? Yes, winter finally came to SE Texas, but it’s usually short lived. Still, you need something to keep you warm for those days.

 

 

 

18233I also got a foot cleaner (it tickles!) and a massager to loosen up my tight shoulder muscles after a day of writing. And I’m on  a deadline crunch right now—but I can’t really talk about that just yet.

 

 

 

17768Ahh..What can I say? My son and his girlfriend know me too well!

 

 

 

 

18229And this is what I bought for myself for Christmas. I ordered it online. I knew I’d have a good use for it, and guess what? I was right. I use it constantly!

 

What’s your favorite gift you received for Christmas?

 

 

 

Winner!!

The winner of last week’s giveaway of a Christie Craig book of your choice is Elaina. Congratulations! Please email me with your mailing address and your choice of one of my books to christie@christie-craig.com.

 

To Resolute or Not to Resolute

fa757bcac08468df88e20139d65742dbIt’s a New Year.  For some of us it means new goals.  New hope.  A fresh start.

Yup, it’s New Year’s resolution time.  Time to reflect.  Time to plan.  Time to shake off our mistakes and start brand new with a different blueprint.

I totally get why some people have given up on the process and why they’ve concluded it never works.  A lot of our last year’s resolutions lie littered at our feet, collecting like dead leaves.  And if you look back to past years, I can only conclude I need a big rake and big wheel barrel to move those dead goals to a big compost pile.

It’s so dad-burn, dad-blasted infuriatingly frustrating realizing we didn’t meet last year’s goals.  Or even the year before.  It’s hard to swallow the fact that we failed.  Yup, I see why some just give up.  I get it.  I understand it.

But I can’t go there.

Now, I’m not questioning anyone’s process.  Nor will I try to tell you what you should do.  I think everyone deals with hope, goals, and even failure differently.  The self-improvement journey is a very personal process.  What motivates one person, can send another into sheer panic mode.

Yet, in my mind, shedding myself of the whole New Year’s resolution process is like I’m saying, “I’ll just fail so why try?”  It’s throwing in the towel, before I step into the ring.  It’s concluding that I have no control over my future.  And I just can’t do that.

So here I sit, after I’ve spent New Year’s morning watching the CBS Sunday Morning show.  And I’m caught in this emotional, but hopeful mood. While my husband always watches these end-of-the-year shows, I’ve been known to avoid them because as I told my husband last year, “I’ve already grieved for the bad things that happened this year and for the people we lost. Why start out on the New Year’s journey carrying that pain in my pocket?”

slide_331219_3272321_freeAnd yet, today I have a slightly different perspective on it.  I mean, I’ve always known that pain can be cathartic.  That it can point to a problem, that it can remind us of our mistakes, and often times, only by reflecting on the pain can we move past something.  But as I was hit by all of the senseless loss of life, like what happened in Orlando, I felt the anger and the empathy for the families of those who died, but I also recalled how the tragedy brought some of us closer.  How strangers reached out to help strangers.  Right then, I realized we shouldn’t wait for tragedy to reach out.  Why wait to offer a little time to the lonely, a smile to strangers, and a few dollars to a charity that tugs at our heartstrings, when we can do it now?

When I was forced to see the faces and grieve again for all those who made me smile, dance, and think—the ones who brought me and millions of others joy—I realized that as sad as this loss is, the reason they have touched the lives of so many is because they followed their dreams.   They set out to make their lives, their goals and resolutions.  They fought against failure, they took chances.  I’m sure they had their share of failed resolutions.  Some of them shared their demons with us.  Some of them lost to that demon.  But their triumphs can be an inspiration and their pain and failures can offer wisdom.  And the fact that they are no longer with us, offers us a realization that time, love and life isn’t a promise.  It’s a gift we should not waste.

So with all these scrambled emotions rushing through me, I finally came up with my resolutions.  I know they say to be specific, but this year, I’m trying something different.  This year, I want to be more aware of my choices.  Each and every one of them.  I want to be present and mindful in my decisions.

Before I choose to play a computer game for the third or fourth round, I want to be conscious of how I’m using my time.  Before I eat the second or third cookie, I want to be aware that I’m choosing to stay at my current weight or possibly gain more.  Before I buy my trigger foods that encourage me to cheat, I want to realize I’m probably going to cheat.  Before I make other commitments to people, I want to consider how that effects my writing time.  I want my choice to stay up too late, to compute to the fact that I’m choosing to be less productive the next day.

I want to be more conscious that will power isn’t one big thing.  It’s a lot of little things.  A lot of little choices.  I want to realize that I’m the one who’s responsible for my life.  Perhaps everything isn’t in my control, but for the things that are, I want to be in the driver’s seat. And I don’t want to end up someplace where I don’t want to be because I kept my blinders on.

So what about you?  What’s your take on resolutions?  Have you made any?

Today I will offer a copy of one of any book in my Christie Craig novels—if I have a copy that particular book–to one person who leaves a comment.  Oh, and Happy New Year! (Sorry, but this giveaway is for US residents only. If you’re reading this on Goodreads, you need to go to my blog to leave your comment to be entered.)

Happy Holidays and 2016

happy-holidaysIt’s that time of year again. It’s hard to believe it’s going to be 2017. This past year went by so quickly, and each year seems to go by more and more quickly the older I get. I don’t know why that is because each year still has 365 days. But around this time, I always find myself looking back over the previous year and counting my blessings–and there have been many. I said a final good bye to my Shadow Falls characters in Midnight Hour, my final Shadow Falls book. Now that was hard–really hard, but I’m a better person for having known them. I also wrote a new book, unrelated to Shadow Falls, but it’s still about friendships, has a bit of paranormal, some mystery and a lot of heart. I’ll let you know when to expect it in book stores in a bit. I also did some traveling in 2017 to many states in the U.S. and also to Denmark, which was beautiful. I met so many of my fans this year at book stores, conferences and book fairs. I appreciate you all more than you know. So, thanks for making 2016 a year to remember and be thankful for.

As I look ahead, I’m thinking about what 2017 will bring. I already have some exciting things planned–but I can’t say anything about that just yet. So, I guess you’ll just have to wait. 🙂

Wishing Happy Holidays to you all!

closetIt happened.  My closet got out of control.  So hubby and I were cleaning it together.  We had clothes and shoes strewn all over the bedroom floor.  Hubby’ was on the floor, holding up items and asking, “Keep or throw?”

He picked up a purse.  I saw it was worn on the bottom, so I said, “Toss.  But check to make sure nothing’s in it.”  I swear I did not know what was in there.  Had I known, I wouldn’t have been in the house.

He stuck his hand in the purse, moved it around and then turned the purse over and shook it.

I saw it fall out.  A scream rose up my throat.  I leapt back.

16726It was the biggest darn spider I’d ever seen.  I swear I saw the thing blink. It landed on all eights, crouched down like a dog ready to attack.

I screamed, one of those kind of screams that come from the belly button area, and I started doing the It’s-a-Spider-Dance.  Hubby grabbed a shoe and smashed it.  And believe me there was a lot of smash to clean up.  Which hubby did. Guess who’s going to be cleaning the closet out by himself from now on?

Who says closet monsters don’t exit? What’s in your closet?