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Me and my dad in the ’70s. Because California, and Cookie Monster, are #1.

It’s my birthday this week! Normally, I don’t do anything special, but this year I’m going to visit my parents because it was recently my father’s 70th birthday, and we wanted to celebrate together. My parents are in California, which is where I grew up. While I haven’t lived in the state for many, many years, returning always feels like going home.

Home means the smell of juniper and diffuse golden light. It’s lots of traffic and my dad’s crazy humor and my mom’s laid back smile. It’s delicious sourdough bread in every grocery store, lots of local wine and wisps of marijuana in the air. (I don’t smoke, but the smell always has been everywhere in NorCal, and still is). Home is etched in my memory of the 1970s, with cold oceans, redwoods and golden fields. Idyllic, really.

Home at this point is merely a memory. I’ll never likely return to live in California. It’s too expensive, too many people, and I’ve settled into a wonderful life in Florida.

But because I’m in a California state of mind, I want to give away EIGHT BOOKS by my friend Stacy Finz. She’s a journalist (like me) and has written a small-town romance series set in California. They are FABULOUS. The first is appropriately called Going Home, and I’m giving her entire series away on e-book — and I’m ALSO giving a second winner three paperbacks!

Let me know in the comments where home is for you. Your home can be literal, or metaphoric. I’ll pick someone at random on Tuesday, Dec. 14 around 9 p.m. EST! Good luck!

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