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December 2018

December 30

Celebrity New Year’s Weddings

People Magazine

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By Lori Perkins

While Christmas is not a popular date for celebrity weddings (even though it’s a time of the year when families do come together), New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day do seem to be a right for celebrity weddings.  Last year Maria Menounos not only got married on New Year’s Eve, but she put the whole thing together so quickly (just two weeks) that she had co-host of her Steve Harvey officiate the wedding on Fox’s Live New Year’s Eve Broadcast!


In 2017, NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. married his sweetheart on New Year’s Eve.


They year before, in 2016, Olympic star Michael Phelps and his girlfriend got married on New Year’s Eve in a 1920’s-themed wedding at the Arizona Biltmore resort (even though they had already had a ceremony in June and October). 

Another Olympian, skater Johnny Weir married Victor Voronov in 2011 at the courthouse in New York City.

That same year Shania Twain married Frédéric Thiebaud, the former husband of her close friend and employee Marie-Anne, after Marie-Anne took up with Shania’s husband, music producer Robert Lange. The two heartbroken divorcées comforted each other and ended up falling in love.

In 2002, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne renewed their 1982 vows at the Beverly Hills Hotel which included celebrity guests like Justin Timberlake and Chris Rock, while their daughter Kelly Osbourne served as flower girl.

Other celebrity New Year’s Eve weddings include Will Smith and Jada Pinkett who tied the knot in a rather fancy and lavish ceremony in 1997 at the Cloisters Mansion in Baltimore. 


For more celebrity New Year’s Eve weddings, read  





December 29

A Midnight Kiss from The Hallmark Channel

 Kicks Off the New Year


People Magazine

By Lori Perkins

I know, you thought you hade seen everything new on the Hallmark Channel for the season, but they say they saved the best for last with the Saturday, December 29th premier of A Midnight Kiss.

A Midnight Kiss brings us New Year’s Eve with classic Hallmark movie plot lines, starring Carlos PenaVega (husband of beloved Hallmark Channel actress Alexa PenaVega with whom he starred in last year’s Enchanted Christmas) and Once Upon a Time’s Adelaide Kane. With only one week to prepare, Mia Pearson and her party planning family are given the biggest job in their company’s history: a New Year’s Eve party for tech entrepreneur Megan Clark. But when her brother breaks his leg and her parents head off on a planned vacation, Mia reluctantly enlists the help of her brother’s handsome visiting college buddy, David Campos, to help her pull off the event which just so happens to fall on her favorite day of the year. But what Mia didn’t plan on was falling in love in the process. 


The movie premiers at 8:00 p.m., and will be repeated all weekend.

And if that’s not enough winter loving for you, the premier of the Hallmark Channel’s Winterfest follows at 9:00, showcasing the channel’s upcoming feature films to keep you warm this season.





December 28

After 8 Years Photographer Finds Couple She Filmed During Their Proposal 

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Joy Groover/ Inside Edition

By Lori Perkins

Every December Florida photographer Joy Groover would post to social media trying to find the couple she took pictures of during their marriage proposal eight years ago at a church in Palm Beach. Groover was there taking pictures of her family, so she decided to take a few shots when she realized the man on bended knee was proposing, hoping to give them to the couple.

She didn’t want to interrupt what she described as ”a really tearful, sweet, sentimental moment” but the couple disappeared before she could speak with them.

This year, Ashley Barnosky received an odd question from a Facebook friend asking if she has been proposed to in Florida eight years ago. When she said yes, her friend sent her the link from the photographer.

Groover received an email from Barnosky and her husband, David, who now live in Cypress, Texas with their two daughters.

“We went back and forth a couple times and I asked them to authenticate, and they sent me a photo from the night of their engagement from 2010,” the photographer told Inside Edition. “I felt relief for sure. It was very surreal to think that after eight years I found them.”





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The couple is so happy to have this important moment in their life commemorated.


 “I was incredibly thankful for the pictures. For a moment we had never seen. We didn’t have that moment captured,” she told WPBF TV. The couple plan to frame the newfound engagement photos.


This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

Here’s a link to the local Florida news coverage​

December 27

Tales of Christmas Presents That Make You Cry


Joy Groover/ Inside Edition

By Lori Perkins

December 26

We all love Christmas, especially Christmas stories that touch our heartstrings and bring tears to our eyes. 


These are three that I read on the day after Christmas that made me tear up


The first was about a man who would not upgrade or replace his phone because his mother’s last recorded voice message to him was on his old phone and he would play it to bring him comfort.  His adult children bought him a bear with a recording of his mother’s voice on it.  Here’s the video.












This video is about a young man who found out on Christmas morning that his foster family was going to adopt him when he opened his Christmas present.

















And this last video is about a young boy in Philadelphia whose firefighter father died this year.  His only wish was to be sent firefighter patches from all over the country.  Firefighters from all over the country, being the generous souls that they are, sent thousands of patches for Christmas from all over the world.  One even came from Tasmania.


Here’s the news report.

















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Miley Cyrus’ and Liam Hemsworth’s
Secret Christmas Eve Wedding

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By Lilli McHale


After a two-year engagement, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth finally tied the knot. The pair have apparently gotten married based on Instagram stories posted last night by Conrad Jack Carr which seemed to have a set of “Mr. and Mrs.” balloons floating in the background. The wedding appears to have been very low-key, guests wore jeans and other casual attire. Miley is seen in an off-the-shoulder white gown while a bearded Hemsworth wore a tuxedo. The posted Instagram video shows the two about to cut their tiered wedding cake. 

In March it was speculated that the pair were going to have a sudden wedding that would be kept secret. Miley didn’t want anyone to know, making it extremely last minute and secretive. Again in August, speculation about their marriage came up with people arguing that the two never planned to wed and that their engagement was enough for them. 





Cyrus came forward this month saying she’s never been more in love with Hemsworth since he saved their animals from the Malibu fire. She now calls him her “survival partner” as the two have been through so much with the wildfire destroying their entire home. While Hemsworth doesn’t love being called her “survival partner,” Miley says, "He thinks it’s not romantic, but I learned that it is. That is why you pair up with someone, for survival."





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Conrad Jack Carr

December 24

Christmas Traditions and Trivia



By Lori Perkins

We do things year after year, and we think we know the reason, when sometimes the history is very different than we think.


Growing up, I had friends who ate fish on Christmas Eve, which I thought had something to do with being Catholic and some long-forgotten meat fast until Christmas Day.  Turns out it was a tradition brought over from Italy (so not just Catholic) coming from the Feast of Seven Fishes.  


But the fishy Christmas Eve tradition has even more history. In parts of Eastern Europe, it is customary to keep a live fish in your bathtub in preparation for the Christmas Eve feast.  Some say it’s because carp is one of the oldest fish in this part of Europe, with mentions of carp appearing as far back as the 17th century.


The song we know as “Jingle Bells” was not intended to be a Christmas song.  It was first performed in November as a Thanksgiving song under the original title of “One Horse Open Sleigh.” Go figure.


And one Christmas stocking legend makes is clear that the stockings’ gifts were not intended for children. An old story dating back to the third century in the Byzantine Empire suggests that St. Nicholas threw coins down the chimneys of poor women whose families couldn’t afford dowries. The money would land in stockings that were hung over the fire to dry.


We think everyone eats ham or turkey on Christmas Day (and maybe some people just skip it and eat Chinese food). But in Japan, it’s a time-honored tradition to eat fried chicken on Christmas. Starting in 1974, Kentucky Fried Chicken saw the marketing opportunity and ran a campaign asking the people of Japan to show thanks for Christmas by enjoying a bucket of KFC. People in Japan order up their finger-licking-good Christmas chicken months in advance—to the tune of about 3,000,000 orders of KFC each year.


Many families have their own traditions too.  My son and I make Pop-overs from the recipe from Jordan Pond in Bar Harbor, Maine, loaded with strawberry jam and butter for breakfast. Here’s the recipe,







December 23

Some Female-centric Holiday Cards


By Lori Perkins

I was trying to think of a unique angle on Christmas, but could only find two celebrity Christmas weddings (Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman on Christmas Eve and Madonna & Guy Richie on December 22nd, but they’re both divorced now, so that’s not very romantic).


But then I thought, what about feminist Christmas cards, and found these witty, wonderful, wild examples, so I’m just going to put them here.






December 22

And the Final Lifetime Christmas Movies

of the Season Are…



By Lori Perkins

December 20

Michelle Obama Becomes to Brooklyn

Not to be outdone by the more established Hallmark-Christmas movie machine, The Lifetime channel has given themselves the slogan “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” this season and will be premiering a few Xmas movies of their own this weekend.


A Christmas Kiss stars Elisabeth Röhm, Laura Breckenridge and Brendan Fehr kicked off the weekend on Friday.  In this movie, high-end interior designer Priscilla and her assistant Wendy, vie for the attention of Priscilla’s socialite boyfriend while decorating his home for the holidays.


A Golden Christmas is Saturday’s selection. Several years ago, a very special dog brought together a little girl and boy. Now, through an incredible coincidence, these two long-lost friends will reconnect during Christmas. A Golden Christmas stars Andrea Roth, Nicholas Brendon, Bruce Davison, Elisa Donovan, Jason London and Alley Mills.





3 Holiday Tails premiers on Sunday staring  Julie Gonzalo, Kelly Stables, KC Clyde, Alley Mills and Bruce Davison. In this sequel to A Golden Christmas. Lisa's three puppies interrupt a wedding proposal, and she is shocked to see it is her ex-boyfriend David proposing to his new girlfriend. Everyone can see they are meant to be together, so the dogs decide to help them get back together.



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Last night more than 17,000 Michelle Obama book fans attended the last event on her national book tour for Becoming, the three million copy plus best-seller, at the sold-out Barclays Center in Brooklyn.


After some quotes on a center billboard (”Find your flame and keep it lit’) and various clips from Obama’s TV appearances (Carpool Karaoke, Sesame Street, Ellen DeGeneres, Letterman, Jimmy Fallon), the stage was graced by various fans of Michelle who explained how they are becoming – Ina Garten is becoming through love and food; Sofia from Girl Scout troop 2697 in Brooklyn is becoming a doctor; Rachel Ray is becoming her mother, who she brought with her tonight.


Then a svelte and glittering Sarah Jessica Parker stepped forward as she was the interviewer for the event.  But Obama stunned the audience by taking the stage in a floor-length yellow satin gown with a slit up the center that revealed a pair of thigh high $4000 Balenciaga boots.

Parker and Obama talked about marriage and motherhood and the Obamas’ accomplishments. Obama got a little flustered as she reminisced about first meeting her future-husband and recognizing his “sexy swagger’ as he arrived for an interview with her late and wet from the rain. It was charming and a little embarrassing, and very real.






But Obama really found her stride when she talked about giving back to the world.  She explained that as First Lady, one of her main goals was to host more programs for children at the White House. You could see her tear up as she talked about a girl from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, who hugged her husband and told him “You saved my life,” after her visit to the White House.


"I think about the kids whose lives are transformed because we gave them a little light," she said. "If they could walk into the White House and feel welcome…then they could do anything."

She concluded her evening encouraging all 17,000 audience members to be aware of the fact that they had all come together, even though there were many differences between all of us.  “This is our country,” she said, explaining that she and President Obama found the strength of the American people the thing that gave them hope when things got tough.

She gave us hope, as we all left.  You could hear it buzzing in the audience.

But it also made me wonder just what Michelle Obama is becoming, and what she can become.




By Lori Perkins

Lori Perkins, Marilyn Warren, Yvonne Smith at Barclays with signed copies of becoming 

December 19

Ariana Grande Drops Romantic New Single “Imagine” as She Accepts People Magazine’s Woman of the Year Award

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Getty Images/Dave Hogan

Just when it seemed like Ariana Grande would be unable to top her latest hit, “Thank U, Next,” her most popular song to date as well as her first single to hit No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, she dropped “Imagine.” “Thank You Next” was only released a little over a month ago, but the singer announced the new song is off of her fifth upcoming album, also entitled “Imagine.” 


“Imagine” shows off her incredible vocal range while speculating about things that could have happened.  The song seems to highlight a fantastical relationship that is almost mythical. Unlike her last song, this song seems to mourn over what-could have happened. The song seems to be a tribute to Mac Miller, Grande’s ex-boyfriend who died of an overdose this spring. Miller had an “Imagine” tattoo on his body, making it seem as thought the song is about their relationship and what it could have been. 


Grande commented on her Instagram account about the song, saying, “for those of you asking about imagine: i would say if ‘thank u, next’ = acceptance… ‘imagine’ = denial. hope that makes sense.” She furthered her explained, saying, “kind of like… pretending it never ended. denial. but i look forward to you hearing it and having your own experience with it. you may take away something totally different and specific to your life! love u.” 



Last week, Grande received the Prestigious Woman of the Year Award at People’s Women in Music event and had to hold back tears during her speech about love, acceptance and relationships.



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By Lilli McHale

David X Prutting/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

December 18

NY Publisher Co-Hosts Victorian Christmas Party at Oldest Manhattan Home


By Lori Perkins

On a rainy December evening, in the glow of electric candleight, revelers gathered in a room where President George Washington and Thomas Jefferson once sat (as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda centuries later), to sing Christmas songs accompanyed by Victorian a cappella carolers. The occasion was the annual Vitcorian Chritmas oparty co-hosted by Riverdale Avenue Books and the Morris-Jumel Mansion, the oldest private home in Manahttan, that was once the site a cabinet dinner hosted by Washington, and later became the salon of Eliza Jumel, the richest woman in New York City before the Civil War.


This year the Ghost of Christmas Present performed a reading from the Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. The evening was capped off by a trivia quiz featuring 20 questions about the history of the oldest house in Manhattan, Dickensian lore and Victorian minutiae with a prize package from Riverdale Avenue Books (see below for the quiz – write to for the correct answers). Hot spiced Christmas wine, a Dickensian favorite, was served to guests, as well as apple cider and cookies. Guests were encouraged to dress in Victorian style and a prize of hand-made jewelery was awarded to the guest most Victorian!  Gale Brewer, the Manhattan Borough President, was in attendance.













“Christmas at the Morris-Jumel Mansion is one of the most magical times of the year, and Riverdale Avenue Books is always thrilled to partner with its historic neighbor to present a special holiday event. We are especially excited about the challenging trivia contest,” said Riverdale Avenue Books publisher, Lori Perkins.
















The Morris Jumel Mansion is located at 65 Jumel Terrace on 155th Street in Manhattan and is open all year round for tours,




Riverdale Avenue Books and the Morris-Jumel Mansion will be hosting a Victorian tea and séance in the spring of 2019.

















Victorian/Jumel/Dickensian  Trivia Quiz

Answer  T or F


1) Queen Victoria become Queen in 1847


2) The average work week for people at the beginning of Queen Victoria`s reign was 16 hours, 7 days a week


3) In the 1901 census, two million of Britain`s 38 million  population were servants


4) The first postage stamp was used during the reign of Queen Victoria


5) When Queen Victoria died in 1896


6) Queen Victoria’s husband was her first cousin.


7) Queen Victoria is the longest reigning British monarch


8) Queen Victoria proposed to her husband


9) Prince Albert died from Typhoid fever


10) Did Charles Dickens ever meet Madame Jumel


11) Eliza Jumel was childless


12) Morris-Jumel Mansion was once a tavern


13) Did Queen Elizabeth visit The Morris-Jumel Mansion in 1976? 


14) Charles Dickens wrote under the pen name Phiz in his early pieces


15) The Mystery of Edwin Drood was left unfinished


16) Oliver Twist was Dickens “favorite child.”


17) Madam Jumel said of Dickens, he has "a large loving mind and the strongest sympathy with the poorer classes."


18) The character of Mrs. Havisham is based on Eliza Jumel


19) Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens were friends


20) Did Eliza Jumel ever meet Charles Dickens


BONUS: Madam Jumel owned a blue velvet embroidered cloak originally worn by  own Queen Victoria




December 17

Happy Xmas (War is Over)


By Lori Perkins

My son and I were discussing Christmas songs and he recently asked me what my favorite song was.  I was almost embarrassed to tell him it was the John Lennon/Yoko Ono classic “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” because I was afraid the song was so dated.


But then Miley Cyrus and Mick Ronson (joined by Sean Ono Lennon) gave the song a second life on Saturday Night Live this past weekend (on the night when the show had it’s best political parody of the year – “It’s a Wonderful Trump Life.”)


As a very young girl growing up watching the nightly news about the Vietnam War on TV, I hated the war and wanted it to end.  When this song was released in 1971, it gave me hope and made me feel like I was doing something when I sang along, even as a child.


I was therefore heartened to hear Miley Cyrus say on Howard Stern’s radio show that she was drawn to the song because of the timeliness of its message. “What have we done? Are we doing enough? Are we actually active? … We’re the next generation to encourage people to fight for the change we want to see,” said Cyrus.  She also said that a recording of “Happy Xmas” was scheduled. We can only hope that this version makes the annual Christmas airplay for another generation to come!



December 16

Gay Couple Inspires Mattel to Make a

Gay Wedding Toy Set

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Matt Jacobi


By Lori Perkins

To their utter amazement, Mattel responded positively, and has invited the fiancés to a meeting to discuss just how they should go about this.


Says Natalie, “I hope the [Mattel] doll looks like uncle Nick and Matt. I really want Matt and Nick to be together.  I love them very much.”


Nick and matt have been together for 11 years.  “It’s a great teaching moment and we hope to inspire families around the world.”


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Arizona couple Matt Jacobi and Nick Caprio wanted to give a wedding-related birthday gift to their niece Natalie, who is going to be a flower girl at their May wedding.  She loves her Barbie dolls, so they thought they’d just get her a wedding party set with two grooms and were surprised that Mattel didn’t make one.  So they made one for her from various Mattel wedding sets (and two Ken dolls), took a picture of her opening their amazingly creative gift, and called out Mattel on Instagram, suggesting that they should make a set like this for all little girls.


Hi @Mattel! Happy Holidays. We had a difficult time finding a same sex wedding set to give to my niece for her 8th birthday. she and her little sister are flower girls in our upcoming May wedding. We thought it would be special to give her something with a little meaning behind it. What a bummer you don't make one with two grooms. Anyway, we had to get creative and make a couple purchases. I hope our custom gift 

inspires you to make a #GayWedding set.



Matt Jacobi


December 15

Forget Hallmark. What We Really

Want is Holiday Smut


By Lori Perkins

The newly created women’s film company Passionflix released their holiday erotic romance, Mr. 365, based on the best-selling novel by Ruth Clampett, today at noon. The tag line reads, “He’ll light up your world.” As this trailer hints, Passionflix films are just a little naughtier than the usual Lifetime and Hallmark fare, so buckle up and stream!


The plot is basic Hallmark - When reality show producer Sophia (Chelsea Hobbs) is assigned to convince Christmas fanatic Will (Christopher Russell) to be on their holiday special, she imagines him to be an oddball Momma’s boy wearing a reindeer Christmas sweater. What she doesn’t expect is the handsome, mysterious man who captures her attention, and seems determined to win her heart. 

Their attraction is undeniable, and as charming Sophia convinces Will to work with her, she slowly unwraps the mysteries of his past that make this determined and soulful man still yearn for the childhood he never had.



When the chaos of production starts, will Sophia be able to keep her promises to protect Will from being exploited, or will the bitter truth of reality television be a runaway train of disaster for both of them?


Passionflix is a premium romance-on-demand streaming service offering original movies and other digital content adapted from bestselling books along with an impressive library of all-time favorite romantic classics. Founded by Tosca Musk, Jina Panebianco and Joany Kane in 2016, PASSIONFLIX brings an empowering focus to the female gaze. PASSIONFLIX is available online and through an app for mobile, digital entertainment systems, and Smart TVs.


December 14

Sexy Santa 2018

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By Lori Perkins

I never realized that there was an unstated annual sexy Santa competition until last year, when this Christmas hunk kept on showing up in my social media feed.



Paul Mason is a sexy mall Santa from Toronto, who basically took the Internet by storm last year.  Some even dubbed him “Fashion Santa” for his smoldering indoor shoots. Yu can find and follow him on twitter @paulmasonmodel where he has an astounding 37 million followers. This year, he’s such a celebrity that he’s hosting a holiday party in Toronto on Dec. 23rd (you can still get tickets here, and he’s even posed with Canada’s most well-known celebrity Justin Bieber.


But it looks like we may have another contender for 2108.













Kurt Russell’s wise-cracking, wild-ride driving Santa in Netflix’s Christmas Chronicles gives Paul Mason a run for that sack of presents this year. And he may have won the competition with a ringer because his real-life partner and sexy lady Goldie Hawn is featured as an equally hot Mrs. Claus in the direct-to-streaming Christmas movie, so it’s actually a two-for-one hottie holiday offer.



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December 13

Hallmark Christmas Town of Evergreen

is a Real Place

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By Lori Perkins

Every year I watch these Hallmark Christmas movies and wonder if I’ve seen that town before?


And I have (there have been two Hallmark Christmas movies set in the fictional town of Evergreen, Vermont).


It’s a real place…and you can visit.


Evergreen, Vermont, the quaint hometown in Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa and its 2018 sequel Christmas in Evergreen is not in Vermont at all, or even New England or the East Coast.  It’s in British Columbia, just 15 minutes from Vancouver.  The small, snow-covered town is actually a Canadian museum (think a Canadian Williamsburg or Sturbridge Village.   The Burnaby Village Museum in the city of Burnaby is a heritage village built in 1971 to mimic the early history of the Canadian province. The “town’ features a general store, bakery, ice cream parlor and old-fashioned main street, perfect for this kind of timeless Christmas setting.  

Just like in Everygreen, Burnaby Village in real life celebrates Christmas. The village's annual Heritage Christmas event runs through the New Year. Two of the village’s prized features are a restored 1912 C.W. Parker Carousel and a restored Interurban tram from the '50s on site.

Burnaby Village Museum is open seasonally to visitors, including for spring break and all of summer. And, of course, during Halloween, the village becomes a "Haunted Village." 

Filming for the Hallmark Evergreen movies is usually in September (but the whole village is decked out for Christmas), so you might want to make your fall travel plans now?



December 12

Lost Engagement Ring Retrieved from Times Square Subway Grate by NYC Cops

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By Lori Perkins

Every year I watch these Hallmark Christmas movies and wonder if I’ve seen that town before?


And I have (there have been two Hallmark Christmas movies set in the fictional town of Evergreen, Vermont).


It’s a real place…and you can visit.


Evergreen, Vermont, the quaint hometown in Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa and its 2018 sequel Christmas in Evergreen is not in Vermont at all, or even New England or the East Coast.  It’s in British Columbia, just 15 minutes from Vancouver.  The small, snow-covered town is actually a Canadian museum (think a Canadian Williamsburg or Sturbridge Village.   The Burnaby Village Museum in the city of Burnaby is a heritage village built in 1971 to mimic the early history of the Canadian province. The “town’ features a general store, bakery, ice cream parlor and old-fashioned main street, perfect for this kind of timeless Christmas setting.  

Just like in Everygreen, Burnaby Village in real life celebrates Christmas. The village's annual Heritage Christmas event runs through the New Year. Two of the village’s prized features are a restored 1912 C.W. Parker Carousel and a restored Interurban tram from the '50s on site.

Burnaby Village Museum is open seasonally to visitors, including for spring break and all of summer. And, of course, during Halloween, the village becomes a "Haunted Village." 

Filming for the Hallmark Evergreen movies is usually in September (but the whole village is decked out for Christmas), so you might want to make your fall travel plans now?



December 11

Do Women Really Want Holiday Proposals Or Do They Just Want to Read About Them

in Romance Novels?


By Lori Perkins

I am sure you have been asking yourself this question this holiday season as you binge-watch Hallmark’s 22 new Christmas romance movies this December.


I know I love to read about over-the-top proposals in novels and see them in movies, but in real life the last thing I would ever want is to be put on the spot as a flash-mob performs a marriage proposal while singing in front of an audience of friends and/or strangers as someone records an iPhone video.


Thankfully, Brides Magazine has just released the answer to this all-important question:

Forty percent of women would want a holiday proposal, and 60% would not.

Another study by the English jewelry company Beaverbrooks—which surveyed 2,000 people—revealed that four in ten British women secretly hope for a Christmas proposal, and that one in five women would be “very upset” if they didn’t get engaged on a major holiday.

To follow that up, Beaverbrooks added that they estimate 789,775 proposals will take place over the Christmas holidays this year.

That’s certainly a lot of Christmas love!



December 10

A Surprise Proposal Over a Canyon with 16 Dogs


Rebecca Yale

By Lilli McHale

When Laura Stampler met up with her childhood bestie Rebecca Yale for lunch during a Los Angeles excursion, their get-together was rudely disturbed by Yale, a wedding photographer, who said she had to go meet with a client. 













A few hours later, Stampler got to be that client when her boyfriend of four years, Maurice Goldstein, proposed to her on the top of Runyon’s Canyon with the Hollywood Hills as a background. 


Stampler, who works as a journalist, is also a romance novelist. Her first book Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies channels The Devil Wears Prada in all the right ways and so does her grand proposal. 


The surprise event happened when the New York-based couple traveled to LA for Thanksgiving. Goldstein had asked Stampler to hike with him before they were planning to grab drinks with some local friends. While nearing the lookout point, Stampler started to realize what was going to happen and just lost it. 












Goldstein got down on his knee with rose petals, acapella singers, and SIXTEEN dogs in the background. A perfect backdrop for Yale to capture her best friend’s dream engagement. The moment Stampler said yes all of the dogs ran to her in the field and she cried again. Goldstein’s family friend manages therapy dogs and was standing on call with them as Stampler and Goldstein both love animals. 














This story originally appeared here:



Rebecca Yale

Rebecca Yale

Rebecca Yale

Rebecca Yale

Rebecca Yale

Rebecca Yale

December 9

Interview with Author of New Erotica for Feminists, Caitlin Kunkel


By Willow Paule

(This article originally appeared on Willow Paule’s blog, where she interviews creatives and she has given us permission to reprint it here).


Caitlin, did you grow up around people who valued creativity? Humor?


Both my parents have very defined senses of humor–my mother is a nurse, and nurses are well known for black humor (which I love), and my father was sillier in what he would laugh at. I definitely always felt encouraged to make comedic commentary growing up. My sister Emily is a professional actor and my other sister Grace has the best sense of style of anyone I know, so we were certainly encouraged to exercise and develop our artistic sides.


How did you become interested in writing?


I was pushed to write starting in elementary school, and it began to feel like the one place I could be heard. For some reason, I was an angry kid so my writing felt like a space to address my 8-year old concerns, like why in the world I hadn’t yet been permitted to have a puppy GOSH. Writing always felt like it came naturally to me and as more and more teachers noticed and praised me for it, it started to seem like something I really could focus on. It felt like the thing that differentiated me and made me unique.


How is it financially possible for you to focus on writing?


I supplement comedic writing with teaching and occasional copywriting jobs, and I’m the writer for the public radio show Live Wire, which is a steady chunk of my income. I’ve taught screenwriting, English composition, and satire at Northwestern University and Pacific Northwest College of Art, and I pick up producing and consulting jobs as well.


I teach satire and screenwriting online for Second City and that has been a wonderful job for me–the workload changes every month, and I can do it whenever it works best in my schedule. So now I tend to write in the morning and spend the afternoons doing paid work. There’s almost always overflow onto the weekends, but if I need to read a student’s funny list or write one of my own on a Saturday, that’s not so bad.


I like to have a certain amount of steady, paid work lined up each month and then hustle for additional stuff on top of that. But if I have no idea where my income is coming from, I start to feel too anxious to work. So teaching has become my income anchor. I also teach satire workshops in NY, around the country, and coming up in London as well!


I will say that as a freelancer, my income is variable and it certainly makes a huge difference that my husband has a stable job that provides our health insurance. I also feel strongly that creative writers who primarily do creative writing should have skills in complementary fields like copywriting, in order to grab gigs along the way when it’s a tight month. I still write blog posts for a few hundred dollars a month – I enjoy the change of pace, and that extra money goes into savings.


I’ve also worked in fundraising and nonprofits over the years as I moved to being able to make my entire living from freelancing and teaching–it took me three years after graduate school and six years after finishing college to grow to that point. This year, I received a book advance that was large enough to pay off the last chunk of my student loans, and I have more financial freedom month to month now.


I know you’re a teacher for The Second City and recently I saw you share detailed updates about the creative work your students were doing. I appreciated what looked like a deep interest in your students. Besides a salary, what does teaching offer you?


I have found teaching to be unbelievably useful when it comes to clarifying concepts in my own head–in order to teach satire to people, I have to understand it on a much deeper level than I did when I was just writing for myself. It forces me to do more reading and to reinforce concepts in my head again and again–because I’m evaluating student work for comedic premises, strong points of view, and form, I have to develop a really sharp eye for those things in my work and the work of others.


I also get very inspired by the work of students, especially when they’re just starting out and they write some nutso stuff. You can see how unique and creative someone’s viewpoint is because they aren’t trying to ape another form, or emulate a website–this is coming 100% out of their own head. I love working with people new to comedy or new to creative writing. I know a lot of people think writing can’t be taught, but I couldn’t agree less–I think everyone has life experiences or viewpoints that they can be taught to express in a comedic way. You’re not telling them what to think, you’re just giving them some tools for ways to excavate their thoughts. I go on to write and collaborate with many of my students, if it seems like we have a connection – so then they become my peers.


How does creativity manifest for you? Is there any routine you must follow to find it?


I keep a lot of lists, and I’m constantly reading news or asking myself how I feel about certain things. Since I write so much satire now, it’s become second nature to look at a news story and ask myself if I see a comedic angle that could be used to target someone or something in that story, or to make a larger point about something I want to criticize.


In terms of a routine, I almost always start with a loose brainstorm freehand in a notebook and then start to translate ideas into word documents. I have to warm up to writing, and I do a lot of prep work (free writing, making lists of comedic beats, character bios) before I launch into a longer work like an article or a play.

I’ve noticed that if I’m not inputting a lot, by seeing new things in a lot of different mediums, reading comedic work, talking to people, my output will slow way down. So being stimulated through movies, TV, conversation, theater–that’s key for me to work.


What are you working on currently?


A brand new thing – a book! The process was fast and furious – in February of THIS YEAR, I co-wrote a piece with the other three editors of the comedy and satire site for women and non-binary authors, The Belladonna (Carrie Wittmer, Fiona Taylor, Brooke Preston). It was called “New Erotica for Feminists,” and it ran on McSweeney’s. And promptly starting going viral…like, really viral, being read over a million times and shared on Facebook over 100,000 times in the first month.


Within a week, we received an email from an editor in the UK asking us to turn it into a book, and within the next month we got a literary agent, wrote a book proposal, secured a US deal as well, and started writing the book. We wrote the whole 12,000 words (of jokes!) book from the end of March to June, then edited in July and August, and then promptly turned to marketing.


For comparison, a book usually takes 1.5 to 2 years from acquisition to going to market, and we are doing it in 8 months. So it’s been happening almost faster than we can reconcile it, while also all working full-time and running The Belladonna together! But given that we already collaborated and spoke every day for the site, we had our rhythms and strengths locked in. The book is satirical feminist erotica and meant for feminists and those who love them…who are hopefully also feminists.

Basically, if you believe that there are inherent inequalities in society that need to be addressed, and you want to both laugh and fume at the same time, we highly recommend this book. We think the jokes and situations we satirize will be familiar to a lot of people, whether the twist is having a doctor finally believe your pain, or a version of the Genesis story where Eve doesn’t listen to a talking snake, or just that someone breastfeeds in public and no one cares.


You know, things that are currently fantasies. In fact, the entire US title for the book is New Erotica for Feminists: Satirical Fantasies of Love, Lust, and Equal Pay.

We will be touring with the book from November to February, working on expanding the site, and teaching some workshops. So I’m going to be stepping back from teaching for a bit to focus on my own writing for a few months. That feels great!


How do you decide if something you’re writing is good?


I love this Ira Glass quote, because I think developing your taste level is as important as developing your writing chops. It’s always hardest to teach people who aren’t sure what they are trying to do, or who can’t tell when they’ve hit the mark or not.


I’m VERY critical of my own work, and now the metric I use for evaluating it is: 1) Is it clear what I am trying to do? 2) Have I been specific and pointed throughout? 3) Have I been honest with myself about the amount of work I’ve put into this, or am I just desperate to be done? That last one is really where I feel I’ve come a long way–now, I don’t try to lie to myself when something is done or good, I can objectively evaluate it and know. Once I feel the draft is strong, but not completely done, I almost always send it to a friend or one of my sisters to do a final read and get feedback on it. Then I polish it up from there.


I know you were based in Portland for a few years. Any marked differences between Portland and Brooklyn?


Yes! There was a huge lack of diversity in Portland in so many ways–racially, culturally, and in terms of conflicting viewpoints. I found it very stifling creatively to work in a place where people all agreed on the same things, and where there wasn’t a lot of patience for viewpoints that made people feel uncomfortable or made them question their beliefs. For a satirist, that is death!


Coming from Chicago, where so much satire focused on the problems the city was facing, it was very strange to me that audiences couldn’t find any humor in laughing at themselves and admitting that the city had some real and very big problems. There are just so many more voices chiming in in Brooklyn and New York–I enjoy the feeling of talking to someone and knowing they don’t agree with me.


What are you reading?


After a long period where I was reading creative “self-help” style books like Essentialism and Deep Work, I’m now back to reading a lot of fiction and non-fiction. I just reread Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp, which is one of my all-time favorite memoirs. For my book club we read Lolita, A Suitable Boy, and Swing Time in the past few months. I’m about to start The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon, and All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung. Now that I’m done writing a book I can read again!


Are there any ideas you wish you had time to act on but haven’t yet? Do you think it will become possible to act on them in the future?


I always wanted to write a book, and now through a very strange and fast way, that came to be! I would love to write more short humor books like this, and I still have the dream of writing a longer comedic novel some day. I have one I’ve been working on for a few years, but it’s not my forte! So I would need to take a class. It’s a satirical look at the self help and wellness industry. I think about it and take notes a lot, so I do think in the next few years I’ll be able to crank out a first draft. It’s percolating!


Do you consider yourself an artist? Should artists starve?


Yes, I consider myself an artist. No, artists shouldn’t starve, but I do think it’s unrealistic to think that you will be able to make a livable salary freelancing without any experience behind you. The work I did in offices, fundraising, teaching, copywriting–all that taught me a lot about deadlines, dealing with clients, handling workflow, etc. And at the end of the day, SO many things that come your way as an artist are from the people you know. So working a full-time job for several years and building your contact list can be incredibly valuable in the future as your cohort all starts to rise at the same time. I do think after gaining some contact and experience, people can start to dip their toe into freelancing and making more money from their art and see if they can come up with a sustainable source of income from it.


Having been a part-time professor at a college, I don’t think being a professor is a full-time job anymore for anyone but a lucky few. I think I will probably hold more full-time jobs in the future, but when I return to freelancing I will always be patching together income from a variety of different sources. Almost no one I know who is an artist makes their living exclusively from their art, and that’s fine–the metric for being an artist in my mind isn’t if you make $100k a year doing it, but if you’re DOING IT.


Willow Paule is a documentary filmmaker and photographer.  She shares monthly interviews with insightful creative people on her blog,, which includes practical tips and insights into their workflow and creative practices. She also writes about creative risk-taking, which she believes can change our world in small and large ways.

She received a BFA with a concentration in photography and a certificate in Southeast Asian Studies from Arizona State University in 2004. She is a Fulbright alumna and teaches in the US, in Asia, and on the web.


The original text of this article can be found here,


December 8

Bride Tells Wedding Guests What to Wear  and How Much to Spend According to Weight 


By Lilli McHale

Maui Receptions

This year has been full of crazy bride’s wedding guest demands, and thanks to social media we got to see more and more of these wild stories. Just when we thought we had seen it all, some bride manages to hit a new level of insanity. This year’s winner set a monetary dress code for her wedding based on the wedding guest’s weight!

The bride’s demands started out by discussing details of her Hawaiian-themed nuptials. She then started to dive into insane dress code details. She stated,  “I am giving you a long notice of a year and a half so that you will have time to find and pick out something nice," She continued, “The dress code is very specific because it will be used to create an incredible visual effect. If done right, it will make our synchronized dancing along the [redacted] beach really pop.”

So while it might seem we just have a controlling bridezilla on our hands, it turns out to take a turn for the worse when the bride then detailed what is appropriate for each gender based on weight. Not to leave too much to chance, the bride also had a specific color scheme in mind as well for what the guests should coordinate it with. 


Below are the exact dress code requirements as the bride listed them: 

“WOMEN (100-160 LBS)

-GREEN Velvet Sweater

-ORANGE Suede Pants

-Loubotin [sic] heels (the famous RED heeled shoes. when we spin and lift our feet, the effect will amaze you)

-Burberry Scarf

MEN (100-200 LBS)

-PURPLE Fuzzy Jacket

-Soda Hat

-All White Trainers

-Plain Glow Sticks

WOMEN (160 LBS+)

-all BLACK sweater and pants. Any material.

-BLACK heels

MEN (200 LBS+)

-all CAMOFLAGE [sic]

-BLACK sneakers


-RED from head to toe. Remember the kids will form the shape of a heart, it needs to be true red not blood orange or some bull****."


To really tick off any guest who was considering attending the wedding, the bride finally required that everyone’s outfit must cost at least $1,000 and that guest must remain in formal attire even after the dancing has concluded, despite being asked to bring a change of clothing. The bride told the guests that this was an investment, as this wedding is “themed 24K.” 


December 7

Bluestocking Banter


An Interview with Shana Galen

Today, Bluestocking Banter natters with three-time Rita Award Nominee Shana Galen, author of passionate regency romps.


Welcome, Shana. As the author of the Romance Readers Guide to Historic London, I was able to visit some manors and castles during my research and I’m always interested to know if romance authors have visited the places they write about. Have you?


Shana: When I first started writing Regency-set books, I made several trips to England, in particular London, to see some of the places I was writing about. I was lucky to have a friend at university in Leeds, and we did a lot of exploring together. Having walked the streets my characters would have walked has been so informative because it gives me a sense of distance and weather and just the feel of the place that I think can be gleaned from books on a place but not as vividly.


What interesting settings have you used outside the standard ballrooms and castles?


Shana: A lot of my books are set in rookeries. My characters might sleep in a flash ken, visit a pawn broker, stop at a gin house, or hide in an alleyway. Mayfair bumps right up against Covent Garden, and I like to explore the differences between the classes


From my London Guide, here’s an old photo from Rotten Row in Hyde Park that borders Mayfair and below is St. Paul’s Church in Covent Garden. I also visited the former London rookeries for research, but I’ll admit the term “flash ken” is new to me, so I looked it up and found out that this Victorian slang means “a house where thieves and vagrants lived.”


Besides visiting places, I know you spend time researching online and in books. What’s the longest that you’ve researched before writing a story and how did you know it was time to start?


Shana: I researched the French Revolution for about 12 years before I wrote Traitor in Her Arms, which is my first book set during that time period. At first I was just fascinated with the period and not necessarily interested in writing a book set then. And then when I did have ideas for a series set during that period, I had to learn more than I had in my initial research. I know a lot about Regency fashion, food, and historical places in London. I had to learn all of that for the late 1700s and Paris. I think I knew I was ready to start writing when I would start talking about the French Revolution and my opinions about various aspects of it with friends of mine who clearly had no interest. I need an outlet for all my excitement.


Funny! I’ve done that myself, talking about cool London places in way more detail than most friends want to hear. How about a lighthearted question that readers have requested I ask: from all your books, who is your favorite hero?


Shana: My favorite heroes are Freddie Dewhurst from Pride and Petticoats and Bastien from The Rogue Pirate’s Bride. They’re both so charming and funny. I like a guy who can make me laugh. Both of them have cameos in other stories in their respective series, and I was so happy when I got to write their stories.


Before we go, please tell us about your latest book, and what excites you about it.


Shana: What I’m most excited about with regard to Unmask Me If You Can is that it’s a story of healing. Both of the characters have been through awful traumas, and I think it’s important to show that they can overcome those. That’s relevant today because so many of us have suffered trauma, but we don’t have to be defined by that. We can move forward and that pain can become a source of strength.


I agree, and that is a great message to carry forward into the new year for so many people. Thank you Shana for visiting with Bluestocking Banter and also for your giveaway drawing of Third Son’s A Charm. This giveaway is winner’s choice, print or ebook, and open internationally. Enter the drawing here.


Look for this column the first Friday of every month. In January we’ll feature a best-selling author who is also a seamstress of authentic period attire, Victoria Vane, and she’ll talk to us about her newfound passion. ~ Sonja Rouillard


 This masked lord…

Lord Jasper, younger son of a marquess, suffered horrible burns fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. He wears a mask to hide his face from the stares and screams and finds comfort in the shadows. Jasper is an exceptional bounty hunter, so when a woman summons him to her deathbed and asks him to find her runaway daughter before she passes away, he doesn’t refuse. Jasper is close to his quarry when he’s knifed by an assailant. Imagine his surprise when he regains consciousness in the arms of the woman he seeks. Except she’s not at all what he expected.


He is not the only one with scars.

On a remote cliff on the sea, Olivia Carlisle calls her five-year-old son in from an approaching storm. But the little boy is more interested in the man he’s found on the trail to their hidden cottage. Olivia fears men and wants nothing more than to leave the injured man where she found him. But his knife wound is severe, and with the approaching storm, she knows leaving him will condemn him to death. As Jasper begins to heal, Olivia acknowledges her attraction to him, even though such emotions terrify her almost as much as returning to London. Jasper must convince her that her only chance at safety is to challenge the man who pursues her. They must travel into the lion’s den—he to face his vulnerability and she to face her worst fears.


Buy it on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and Kobo.


Shana Galen is a three-time Rita award nominee and the bestselling author of passionate Regency romps, including the RT Reviewer’ Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Kirkus says of her books, “The road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful and fun,” and RT Bookreviews calls her books “lighthearted yet poignant, humorous yet touching.” She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston’s inner city. Now she writes full time. She’s happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Learn more about her books at


Bluestocking Banter is offered by Sonja Rouillard, author of the Romance Readers Guide to Historic London


December 6

Hallmark Does it Again, More Xmas

Romance This Weekend


Crown Media

By Lilli McHale

Hallmark does it again! They are offering another weekend chock full of holiday romance movies and I cant wait to see them all revealed! 


This Saturday icons Lori Loughlin and Christina Milian star in Homegrown Christmas and Memories of Christmas!

In Homegrown Christmas, Loughlin plays Maddie, who after being forced to step down from her dream CEO job, goes home for a little restart. Finding herself in front of her old high school sweetheart, Maddie is obligated to help set up a dance for a local high school. In order to do so, Maddie and Carter must push aside the past in order to pull off the dance. 

Christina Milian stars across Mark Taylor in Memories of Christmas. Noelle’s (Milian) family was once the center of the Christmas spirit. But with her mother dead, Noelle finds out that Dave (Taylor) had been the one decorating all this time. Yet, Dave gets Noelle to let him continue his own holiday tradition. The longer Dave, and his Christmas spirit linger, the more Noelle starts to embrace the things around her. 

On Sunday, Hallmark premiers former Disney star Emily Osment playing Heidi in Christmas Wonderland. After leaving her small town to become a famous painter, Heidi now plans to become a curator. Due to a turn of events, she must return home a week before her new gallery’s Christmas party to stay with her niece and nephew. After seeing her high school ex, Heidi offers to help make a space for a school dance that captures the holiday spirit. The longer Heidi works on the dance, the more she finds herself drawn back to painting, and her old small-town lifestyle, which, of course, includes her grown up high school beau.

Although the plots are delightful familiar, curling up before the electronic fireplace with hot coco and watching this delicious holiday fare is one of the true joys of Christmas.


December 5

Christmas Drag Queens, Elves and Romance Featured on TV this Weekend


By Lilli McHale


This Friday, December  7, tune your TVs to VH1 at 8:00 p.m. because “RuPaul’s Drag Race Holi-slay Spectacular,” is making a return to your screen! Favorite queens from the past will be back, such as Kim Chi, Shangela, Trixie Mattel, Latrice Royale, Eureka O’Hara, Jasmine Masters, Mayhem Miller and Sonique. They will all be fighting to become America’s first “Drag Race Xmas Queen.” A total of eight contestants will make a comeback for this holiday episode in epic fashion, so don’t miss it! 

Lifetime is also vying for your Friday night as Christmas Lost and Found will be on at 8:00 p.m. Tiya Sircar stars as Whitney, a NYC event planner who always misses family events. After accidently tossing out a box of timeless Christmas items, Whitney’s grandma schemes a Christmas hunt for the ornaments. Yet, Whitney finds more than the Christmas spirit on her hunt 

This Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Megan Hilty stars as Holly on Lifetime, a fill-in Santa’s helper at her family store. After building some crazy chemistry with the hired Santa, Nick, things go weird when he disappears and only his black boot can be found. 


ION’s Rent-an-Elf airs on at 9:00 p.m. this Saturday. Kim Shaw stars as Ava, a business tycoon who’s company “Rent-an-Elf” helps busy families have a less hectic Christmas season. While working for a handsome single dad, Ava finds herself falling for him. At least until his ex-wife comes back to fix things just in time for some Christmas miracles. 


December 4

USA Today’s Happy Ever After Feature Page to End in New Year

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 9.43.44 AM.png

USA Today

By Lori Perkins

Romancelandia was saddened by the announcement by USA Today’s editor and curator Joyce Lamb that the romance-dedicated weekly feature Happy Ever After would not be returning in 2019.

The Happy Ever After feature page ran for seven years.  According to Lamb, more than 15,000 articles about romance novels and authors were published in its pages. The site, which remains available to read on the Internet.  However, there will be no new content as of January first.


This closing of this romance site comes on the heels of the closing of Romantic Times, which published for 37 years under the direction of Kathryn Falk, and Heroes and Heartbreakers, which was created by the Macmillan Publishing company.

Said editor Lamb, “some might feel this is a sad ending for HEA, but it’s really not. We’ve had an awesome time promoting everything we love so much about the romance community. The past seven years have been like one long, sometimes raucous (and sometimes kinda naughty) party, and we couldn’t have enjoyed it more. So please try not to feel bad about this ending – it’s a happy one, and that’s what HEA has always been about.”


December 3

Jonas/Chopra Wedding Times Two in India

Screen Shot 2018-12-03 at 9.19.50 AM.png

By Lori Perkins

Instagram/ Priyanka Chopra

In case you’ve been busy worrying about the closing of USA Today’s Happy Ever After feature page or following the Young Adult/Romancelandia controversy of accused title plagiarism by none other than Nora Roberts, the rest of the romance-loving world has been riveted by the weekend-long weddings of boy band member Joe Jonas and Quantico actress Priyanka Chopra.


Chopra, 36, and Jonas, 26, arrived with their entourage of family and friends in the western Indian heritage city of Jodhpur on Thursday, and headed to the Umaid Bhawan Palace for a two-day ceremony at India's most opulent royal palace (believed to be the sixth largest private residence in the world) which was once the home of the Jodhpur royal family. Part of the palace is now a Taj heritage hotel with peacocks roaming 26 acres of landscaped gardens. According to the hotel’s website, one night's stay in the Grand Presidential suite could cost over $7,000.


The wedding party included the families of both the bride and groom, as well as Dwayne Johnson, Lupita Nyong'o, Kelly Ripa, and Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner, who is engaged to Jonas’ brother, Nick. 


The weekend-long event started with a colorful, co-ed Mehendi ceremony on Friday, where elaborate henna designs were painted  on the couples’ hands. Later there was a Sangeet, a celebratory party in honor of the couple, which included performances by both families, but you know those Jonas Brothers knocked it out of the park.

On Saturday, the couple was married in a traditional Christian ceremony, officiated by Joe’s father, who is a pastor. Both the bride and groom were dressed in Ralph Lauren clothing, as were those in the wedding party, and there were fireworks.

An elaborate traditional Hindu service was held the following day, where Jonas wore royal garments and arrived by horse, as is the tradition in Northern India. 


Chopra, who headlined three seasons of ABC’s crime drama Quantico is one of Bollywood's biggest female stars. Nick and his brothers Kevin and Joe made up the popular The Jonas Brothers boy band. 

Chopra's engagement and the events leading up to the wedding with Jonas (such as their first Thanksgiving together) has been covered exhaustingly by both Indian media and the American gossip press.

The exuberant bride had told Vogue Magazine before the wedding that “people were going to need a vacation” after this wedding.  We agree.


December 2

Guest Post: How Not to Step on Your Own Dick  or How Not to Embarrass Yourself on Social Media


Instagram/ Priyanka Chopra

By Georgina Penny (aka Evie Snow)

How does anyone in publishing not know who Nora Roberts is? I asked myself the question this morning when I saw the furor surrounding the story that a debut author had accused Nora Roberts of stealing her book title on Twitter, leading to her fans going nuclear on one of the most respected (and prolific) authors in the world.

I asked a similar question in regards to Robert Gottlieb in 2017 when a large section of the romance community went nuclear over his New York Times article, titled ‘A Roundup of the Season’s Romance Novels.’ There was barely any acknowledgement that this was one of the greatest editors of the late 20th century who’d helped bring authors like Nora Ephron, Toni Morrison and Doris Lessing to publication. This was Robert Gottlieb, in The New York Times. To me it said a lot about romance’s time having arrived that the article was written and published in the first place. But a sector of the romance community (and this almost included myself until I followed my own rules) had loaded up their six-guns without seeming to realize that they were firing at a man who’d opened the door to some of the most influential female writers of the 20th century.

And let’s not forget the unfortunate guy who recently tweeted Neil Gaiman, implying Gaiman knew nothing about Dr. Who, only to have Gaiman rather politely list his writing credits on the show… To use the term I saw on the amazing Beverly Jenkins’s twitter feed this morning, this was an epic example of ‘stepping on your own dick.’

What a fantastic phrase! We’ve all done it. We’ve all gone ballistic at something without doing our research or without considering the repercussions to ourselves and others. We all do it so much that ‘outraging’ should be a verb by now and listed as the most popular hobby of the 21st century.

However, in a quest to call for a bit of peace in a world that seems to be going up in flames every single freakin’ day, I’m going to share a couple of rules I’ve devised over a lifetime of travelling the world and living in over 34 different places in Australia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Brunei and Scotland, amongst people who frequently haven’t shared my political, religious or even moral views.

So here are my rules, newly retitled with credit to Beverly Jenkins!


RULES FOR NOT STEPPING ON YOUR OWN DICK (And for not looking like a dick)

1. Do your research.

a. Is this person an ally to your cause/beliefs?

b. (Even if they don’t believe in the same things you do) does this person seem like a reasonable human being who’d be open to a dialogue on the issue?

c. Is it possible this person may be ignorant to the issue you have with what they’re saying?

d. Is this person dangerous in any way: emotionally, professionally or physically? Is it worth it?

e. Do you just need to have a cup of tea and a nap?

2. Work out what you want.

a. Do you want the other person to stop what they’re doing? If so, would a private conversation achieve that? Have you tried it? Are you saying it wouldn’t work because you’re scared of confrontation? Are you saying it wouldn’t work because you’re fired up and just want a fight to get the rage out?

b. Do you want to change this person’s mind? Would yelling at them do that? Probably not? See point 1b.

c. Do you want to make someone feel bad because you’re feeling bad? Yes? Maybe see point 2e.

d. Do you want to address a larger social issue? If so, would addressing it in another way i.e. writing a book, a short, story, a play, a poem, an essay, donating to charity, volunteering, joining an advocacy group etc. be more successful?

e. Do you just need to have a cup of tea and a nap?

3. Sleep on it.

4. Act on it if you’re going to. Be prepared for the other person’s reaction. They have a right to react.

5. Have a cup of tea and a nap, or alternatively read a good book and move on.


December 1

On NaNoWriMo and Failure: Or How I Learned to Embrace My New Writing process 


By K.A. Doore

Instagram/ Priyanka Chopra

It is November 28th. There are three days remaining in November, which means three days remaining in National Novel Writing Month, that time of year when thousands – hundreds of thousands – of writers try to plunk down 50,000 words in the span of a single month.


In years past, I have diligently hit the daily goal of 1,667 words and reached 50,000 with little to no problem. Maybe I missed a day or two here and there, but I always made it up.


Those years, unfortunately, appear to be firmly in the past. In 2016, I wrote 22k for NaNoWriMo. In 2017 I was finishing edits on book 2, so I didn’t bother. And this year I’m on track to hit 20k on a new story. Not even half the official goal.

Perhaps those years will come around again. Perhaps in another time.

But that time is not now, and if there is one thing I’ve learned from this past year, I can mourn my past and What I Used to Be Able to Do and try and fail and try again to meet those old standards, but after all that effort I’ll still be no closer to my goal. All that does is leave me feeling defeated. Less than. Worthless.

My life has changed quite a bit since my first NaNoWriMo in 2001 and my writing has, too. Things changed most drastically in 2016, with the birth of our daughter, but the fallout from that has been gradual. I clung for a long time to the idea that Things Would Return to Normal and I just had to keep trying to reach the goals I’d had before, keep trying to do things as I always had. If I just kept doing the same exact thing, eventually it would succeed, yes?

…hmm, isn’t there some quippy adage about doing the same thing over & over again and expecting different results?

This period was prolonged by the fact that I was working in a world I’d already built, with (relatively) established characters, mythology, history, plot, etc etc et cetera. So it was easier to keep reaching, to de-prioritize my own health, to get up early and stay up late and have very little time to read or really do anything outside of housework – because at least I was still hitting my word count each day.

And I was! Until I wasn’t.

This summer was the first time I hadn’t met my own personal deadlines in a very long time. And I kept not meeting them. But I pushed on regardless.

I turned in Book 3 and then… well, I didn’t so much as crash as fall apart. At first it was a deliberate & planned falling. I read instead of writing and it was amazing, don’t get me wrong. But a consciously quiet month off turned into a not so consciously quiet two months off turned into three.

Not for want to trying. When November rolled around, I decided I’d participate in NaNoWriMo. That would be the kick in the butt to finally get back to writing like I used to. As I did over the summer, I set my daily writing goals and I tried to hit them. But when I didn’t, and I fell further and further behind, I just felt like a failure. I was plagued with doubt. What had happened? What had changed? Why did it feel like I had no time anymore?

As I cut another morning writing session short because my daughter had just woken up, crying, and needed me, I finally realized

My life had changed.

So shouldn’t how I write change as well?

I am not the person I was five, three, even two years ago. I am not in the same situation, I don’t have the same amount of time or energy or brainpower. The background processing I used to do throughout the day on my characters and plots is simply gone, taken over instead with the innate ability to know exactly where my daughter is and what she’s doing at any given second of the day. It has simply become impossible for me to write as quickly as I used to. All that processing has to happen in front of the laptop now, in the spare minutes I can find and gather in the morning.

And while I might mourn the last of that past self – so much time! How did I never realize how much time I had? – I wouldn’t trade where I am now for the world. But that means accepting I am the person I am now, and that no amount of wishing or planning or goal setting or staring covetously at other people’s free time will change that.

Perhaps it’s about time I meet myself where I am, now.

In 2016, I wrote 22k words for NaNoWriMo: a failure. I went on to write another 20k words in December and another 16k words in January and finished the first draft of a book that comes out in less than four months.

This year, I will probably hit 20,000 words. I can’t write 1,667 words a day anymore, but I can write 500. I can write 1000.

So I will keep writing, 500-1000 words a day, throughout December. And I will keep writing, 500-1000 words a day, throughout January. And I will finish a first draft. It won’t matter in a year that it took me three months instead of one month to write that draft. The time will pass. The only thing that will matter is that I wrote a book.

I wouldn’t call that failure.

(This article appeared n the author’s blog,, on 1/12/18, and we received permission to reprint it here for the last day of NaNoWriMo,).


K.A. Doore writes fantasy – mostly second world, mostly novels – with a touch of horror and a ton of adventure.

The Perfect Assassin, Book One in the Chronicles of Ghadid trilogy (aka the “queer assassin family saves the day” trilogy) will be published by Tor in March 2019.  It was the author’s NaNoWriMo novel.

And remember that Riverdale Avenue Books is having a NaNoWriMo contest this year, so please polish your prose and submit.


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