7. The Real Magic
When invited to contribute to the 7 Blogs series, I considered memories, humorous anecdotes, and any number of other ideas. What came to me instead was a passage from the novel I’m currently writing. As Christmas Eve is nearly upon us, it seems especially apropos. I hope it touches you.
"He reached down to the bottom of the bed and felt around in the darkness until he encountered the filled stocking he knew his father had left there. Then he reached over to his brother's side of the bed and located his stocking, reassuring himself that one was no bigger than the other.
He knew what was in there. The sole bulged with the inevitable apple and orange. In the heel he could make out the unmistakable shape of a pink sugar mouse, that little jaw breaker which only seemed to appear in the shops at this time of year. There would be a handkerchief, or something equally useless, then something that felt like a pencil case, or perhaps one of the packets of Edinburgh rock his mother had brought with her on her last trip home from the hospital. At the top of the stocking would be the usual chocolate hollow Santa Claus.
Individually there wasn't a lot there on which to base the special magic of Christmas Eve…
Bestselling Author Bob Atkinson writes time-travel/alternate reality novels set in the magical Scottish Highlands he calls home. His first two books, The Last Sunset and its sequel Red Sky in the Morning, predict a very different America, had the Scots beaten off the English in a great deciding battle.
This concludes the 7 Must-Read Holiday Blogs tour. We hope you have enjoyed our stories, personal memories, deep concerns, and general musings. All of our books may be found on Amazon or wherever fine books are sold. Thanks you for travelling this journey with us. We wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday!
If you missed any blogs or would like to start from the beginning, please click the button below.
6. The Year My Christmas Tree Was A Chair
As Christmas memories go, mine probably hint at the same nostalgia and youthful excitement as most of yours, with maybe two important exceptions. One, my parents are immigrants from India, and we aren't Christian—although that didn't stop us from celebrating. And two, holiday dinners didn't resemble anything close to what I'd seen on A Christmas Carol or the Brady Bunch. No goose, turkey, or ham. Not even fish. Our everyday menu usually consisted of Indian vegetarian food, and as I got older, special occasions called for the only meat dish my vegetarian mom ever made: Onion Chicken Curry. My sisters and I never failed to drop everything and ruuuun to the kitchen for dinner!
(I suppose this is where I need an I digress—not really my style, but you get the picture.)
Because of TV, school, friends, and co-workers, Christmas became a hodgepodge of this is what you should do and this will be fun for the girls and don't let them feel left out. Ever the eager parents, they purchased a tree, strung lights, and bought into the idea of Santa like it would help us get into Harvard one day...
Shaila Patel writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she's a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Her debut novel, SOULMATED, releases on January 24, 2017 (Month 9 Books) and won the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews' Paranormal Awards for Young Adults.
You can reach out to her online at:
Facebook page: http://bit.ly/2btIJLK
Goodreads SOULMATED page: http://bit.ly/2aX5aJU
Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/ZonSpSM
5. The Turkey That Almost Wasn't
My fondest memories of the holiday season revolve around the tradition of simply being together—like drawing names with relatives and friends, hiding behind the couch to watch my mom wrap presents, getting a bag of candy from church, white elephant gifts, and trying to dodge a turkey tryptophan coma. It’s hard for me to nail down one memory, but when I was asked to participate in the Holiday Blog Hop, one particular holiday stuck out. It was Christmastime a few years back. My husband and I had both our families over for the holidays along with some of our dearest friends. We divvied up the menu between us, and my responsibilities included the biggie—the cooking of the Christmas ham and a holiday bird. Sounded easy enough…right? I mean, you put a ham in the oven and with a turkey you just follow the directions. Anyway, my husband bought a twenty-one pound turkey at Costco (love that place) and a Reynolds Wrap roasting bag. Only a moron could screw that up…
A. J. Lape is the author of the Darcy Walker Series which has stayed on Amazon's teen's mysteries and thrillers bestseller's lists since its debut in 2012. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, two daughters, an ADD dog, a spoiled hamster, and an unapologetic and unrepentant addiction to Coca-Cola--plus a lifelong love affair with bacon she has no plans to sever. A graduate of Morehead State University with a Master's degree in Communications, she's a PI wannabe and daily stops crime through the fictional ADHD character of Darcy Walker. If the FBI ever checks her computer, she'll be wearing prison-orange due to the graphic and disgusting "wiki" articles she looks up...all in the name of career research, of course.
Fan Club & Street Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ajlapestreetteam/
Google + https://plus.google.com/+AJLape/
Newsletter signup: http://www.ajlape.com
Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ajlapeauthor
Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6576193.A_J_Lape
Amazon Author Link: http://amazon.com/author/ajlape
Christmas isn't a joyful time for everyone. For some, it's a lonely time. A time of isolation. It's a great pleasure to introduce my friend, Author Matthew Peters. Matt has some incredibly important information to share about coping with the holiday season.
4. Surviving the Holidays
For some people the holidays are a great time to get together with family and friends. For others holidays bring an even greater sense of loneliness and isolation. I especially speak of those who suffer from depression, or some other form of mental illness, as well as those who are chemically dependent. People who suffer from this combination of illnesses, known as the dual diagnosed, are doubly marginalized from society, for both mental illness and addiction are highly stigmatized. Here are some tips for surviving the holidays for people who suffer from one or both maladies or know someone who does...
Dual diagnosed* from an early age, Matthew Peters dropped out of high school at sixteen. He went on to obtain an A.A., a B.A. from Vassar College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University. He has taught various courses in a variety of disciplines throughout North Carolina. He is committed to increasing the awareness and understanding of the dual diagnosed. Conversations Among Ruins (All Things That Matter Press, 2014) is his first novel. His second novel, The Brothers’ Keepers: A Nicholas Branson Novel–Book 1 (Melange Books, 2016), is a political-religious thriller that capitalizes on his love for history and research. Currently, he is working on the next book in the Nicholas Branson series. He is a member of International Thriller Writers.
*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency.
Connect with Matt!
Amazon Author Page
Next Up: The Hilarious AJ Lape!
It's my pleasure to welcome Author EM Kaplan, mistress of mysteries, to the 7 blogs tour. Along with her snarky sluething series, Emily is one of the funniest bloggers I know. She has Twelve wishes for your Twelves days of Christmas, and I'm onboard with all of them!
My Wish List for You this Holiday Season
While desperate parents try to hunt down the latest must-have Hachimal-Tickle-Me-Cabbage-Patch toy, I'd like to offer you a few wish list items of a different kind. Note that these aren't tongue-in-cheek genie wishes that backfire. They are exactly what they seem to be, so take them at face value.
Behold, my wishes for you this season.
1. Less Paperwork, red tape, or hassle. It's all the same. Let's reduce that mess. Turn that dial way down.
"Ace report, Linda. But I don't caaaaaare."
2. The Return of a Memory You Haven't Thought of in a While
"We're totally remembering the same thing, aren't we?!"
3. A Creepy But Harmless Internet Friend
Not like this guy.
4. A Close Call
"MapQuest says to go straight."
Emily Kaplan is freezing her tuckus off in Northern Illinois where she lives with her husband, author JD Kaplan, kids, and dog. She's currently working on her fourth snarky Josie Tucker mystery.
Website and Blog
Amazon Author Page
Hi! Hope you enjoyed Blog #1. of the Must -Read series.Today, please welcome Mica Rossi. She currently lives in the Frozen Tundra known as the Midwestern US, but the good thing about living where it's frozen nine months of the year is that there's plenty of ice cream.
2. The Christmas With No Ice Cream
My earliest memories are bound up in the celebrations of my extended family. It was not uncommon to have three or four generations in the house during each holiday, birthday, or anniversary. Every single one of the women was a great cook, and smells would waft out of open windows in the summer or hit you as soon as you walked through the door in the winter. Of them all, Christmas was the best and my mother’s favorite.
This particular Christmas, I was five years old. I’d been having a series of sore throats throughout that year and spent a lot of time home from school. Mom and I made delicate string decorations with crochet thread, starch and lots of glitter. We made taffy and fudge and sprinkle cookies with melted white chocolate icing. Pipe cleaners got bent into figure skaters, and we created frilly little skirts for them out of crepe paper streamers. Yards and yards of construction paper chains hung from the wood moldings and swooped over the tree.
The days dragged until Christmas and my anticipation spiraled. My little sister wasn’t sure what all the excitement was about, but she loved sticking her fingers into the dough Mom rolled out on the table as much as she enjoyed munching on the stray cookie that found its way into her hands. At not quite three, she was way too young to remember the treat I knew was coming on Christmas Eve, the milk, eggs and vanilla my dad would crank together in a frosty steel bucket to make the frozen delight we had only once a year. But I knew, and I marked off each day on the calendar with a green crayon.
That might seem like a lot to remember from such a young age, but I’ll never forget that Christmas, because it was the Christmas without ice cream…
Mica Rossi has been writing since she was in the second grade and barely able to form her letters properly. Her short works have been featured in several anthologies, and she is furiously scribbling through various drafts of her second novel, a contemporary romance set during the Christmas season.
Her first book, Once in a Blue Moon, was selected as a spearhead novel for the ‘White Satin Romance’ line at Melange Books and will shortly be brought in-house to Camelot Publishing and re-released in February of 2016 in a revised edition. Just think about a gorgeous member of the Aos Sidhe running into the one woman in Boston who has a vendetta against all things magical, and you'll understand why sparks fly against the backdrop of hot summer days and starry nights in the city.
Mica’s latest release, Heart Songs, is a collection of poetry and short stories published in April of 2016. It’s a compilation of the emotional journeys we all take through our lives. From friendship and love to the depths of despair and back again, the author digs into the human experience with humor and grace.
Connect with Mica Rossi!
Amazon Author Page
1. The Craziest Christmas of My Entire Life!
When I was quite young, my father went back to college to finish his degree. With only my mother’s meager hospital salary to support us all, we found ourselves living in a little trailer outside a small mountain town in North Carolina. Though the situation may have seemed dire to my parents, I had a wonderful time exploring fields, taking forest hikes, and playing in and around the rank-smelling creek behind the trailer park. It’s amazing how oblivious children are to such trivial things as economics.
There lay a small airplane strip on the other side of the highway, and as it was Christmastime, my father decided it would be a great (and cost-effective) idea to trespass on that private piece of property and cut down our own tree. So off on our quest we marched, bow-saw in hand, rope dragging behind.
Even in my tiny youth, I wanted a tree grand enough to grace Rockefeller Center. Nearing the top of a daunting hill, I found just such a tree; one whose trunk I couldn’t hope to fully wrap my arms around. My father, being a more practical sort, pointed to a somewhat humbler cedar that would actually fit inside our single-wide. After fierce debate, he began merrily sawing away. And that’s when all the trouble began…
My father was a wonderful storyteller and surely responsible for my modern love affair with fiction. Most likely to keep me entertained on our long return journey, he crafted a yarn about wild animals that ended with the straight-faced promise that he may have actually seen a black bear in the distance. On that point, my grossly over-active imagination begged to differ. You see, I reasoned that it couldn’t possibly be a bear, though they were quite prevalent in the area, but rather the legendary Bigfoot (Note: to my knowledge, there have never been any Sasquatch sightings in North Carolina). Further, that Mr. Bigfoot had surely realized by now we’d cut down one of his beloved trees, and his long, hairy-legged strides were eating up the distance between us so he could wreak his vengeance. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the trip looking over my shoulder.
During the following week, a winter storm besieged the area, its raging winds molding giant powdery snowdrifts like static waves in an angry sea. Some of these were so high, in fact, that Dad had to carry me on his shoulders so I wouldn’t drown in icy fluff. I didn’t have to worry much about the bitter cold, however, because our highly overheated aluminum box kept us toasty warm.
On that particular Christmas Eve, I don’t remember attending church services—though I surely did, what I wore, or even what presents I’d asked for, primarily because those memories were thoroughly obliterated the following morning. Awakened by a loud crash and the sound of frenzied screams, my brother and I raced into the den, fully expecting Santa, in all his blood-red glory, to be standing in the middle of the room ho-ho-hoing. Instead, we were treated to a wildly confusing scene: the tree lying listlessly on its side, my mother batting wildly at the ceiling with a straw broom, and my father doubled over, red-faced with laughter.
Though the tree had seemed innocuous enough as it solemnly stood on that steep hillside, little did we know it had played proud host to a colony of praying mantises, and that their eggs, in that warm and cozy environment we so enjoyed, had set about the task of hatching. On the ceiling, walls, and at our feet through the scattered and broken ornaments, green creatures with beady red eyes and gangly limbs, much like the visage of The Grinch himself, crawled sluggishly in search of their first meals.
Did they steal my Christmas? No. Did they steal the show? Oh, absolutely! And to this very day, I can promise you that that was the craziest Christmas of my entire life!
I wish you all a far less eventful holiday season…well, unless you really like bugs.
Virginia Gray writes contemproary women's fction. A member of Romance Writers of America, she is known for her bestselling series The Susan Wade Saga. Please visit her on social media and sign up for her fan-appreciation newsletter.
Amazon Author Page
Fan Appreciation Newsletter
Next up: Blog 2 by Author Mica Rossi
If you have a memory you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section below. Laughter is perhaps the greatest gift we can give one another!
The Interview by Virginia Gray
With graduation looming, Susan Wade’s job prospects are bleak. Following her semi-boyfriend to the bowels of Texas or managing a dilapidated diner are her only options until she’s unexpectedly offered the interview of a lifetime. But when a corporate shark challenges her integrity, will she blow her chance at this dream job or swallow her ego?
Find out in this hilarious comedy, rife with psychotic roommates, questionable fashion choices, and an epic search for the perfect cup of coffee.
Review by Doug Burns:
Virginia GrayVirginia Gray is a great writer. ‘The Interview’ had me so hooked that I read it from start to finish in one sitting. The plot flows perfectly. Love the characters and the dialogue between them that keeps you laughing almost non-stop.
The main character, Susan Wade, somehow gets it together even with the bumbling events that take place as she strives for an interview with a top company. Susan’s interactions with her roommate and with an unlucky barrister at a coffee shop are priceless, so funny and witty.
You will find ‘The Interview’ positively entertaining, as is Virginia’s other book which is ‘The Carrot’, a continuation of Susan Wade’s adventures as she navigates the corporate world. I once said The Carrotis one of the best books I have read this year, and will say the same about ‘The Interview’. Whether the reader is male or female, The Interview and The Carrot are a total joy to read.
Review by Sherrie Fry:
This book is well written, smooth flowing and easy to read. It is a quick read. The characters, their emotions and the experiences they go through are depicted extremely well.
The main character of the book is Susan Wade. Susan was born and raised in North Carolina. As soon as she graduates college she is off to bigger and better things. She despises everything about the south and is determined to put as much distance between her and the south as possible. She accepts a partial scholarship to a college in Chicago, IL.
She is determined to work her butt off to make good grades and do what is necessary to get the kind of job she has always dreamed about. Double majoring and working full time doesn’t leave much time for fun, but it is a sacrifice she is willing to make. Will all of her hard work pay off? Will she be able to get her dream job, or any job, fresh out of college?
I really enjoyed this book. Susan’s personality, attitude and snarky comments kept me reading wanting to see what would happen next. I laughed, giggled, held my breath, and felt so many different emotions while reading the book. After being in a bit of a reading slump it was exactly what I needed.
I look forward to reading The Carrot to find out how the story will continue.
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Magic-Borne Cover Reveal
My favorite (currently living) fantasy author is C.L. Schneider. I discovered her Magic series and, much like her protagonist, Ian Troy, became a Magic addict. As a friend, and moreover a fan of her series, I've been basically stalking her for months, hoping for crumbs. It's truly a beautiful thing when you have die-hard fans, but a terrible burden when they hound you day and night, demanding their next fix. Ms. Schneider, can you not hear me banging out here?!
Well, C.L. Is finally giving me a tiny taste of what's to come, and I'm frothing...
(Plus, I have a terrible crush on this delicious and surly creature!)
The Crown of Stones: Magic-Borne Cover Reveal
He’s paid for his addiction. He’s been scarred by his spells. He’s borne magic’s weight, its pleasure, and its guilt. But will he surrender to it when the realm needs him most?
Magic-Borne, the final installment of my epic fantasy trilogy, The Crown of Stones, is almost here! The Crown of Stones follows the trials of Ian Troy; a man struggling with an inborn addiction to magic in a world where magic is reviled, not revered.
The cover of Magic-Borne was designed by artist Alan Dingman.
In one fell swoop, the resistance was shattered. Lives were taken. Hope was lost. Peace slipped like grains of sand through his fingers. So did the Crown of Stones. Now, forced into hiding, Ian Troy grapples for a way to save the realm—and free its people—from the sadistic clutches of Jem Reth; Mirra’kelan’s new self-appointed emperor. Plagued with the knowledge of a tragic future, he strives to influence events and save those he cares for. But his magic has betrayed him, and Fate has other plans.
Scarred by the crown, hindered by the transformation spell contained within, each cast brings Ian one step closer to becoming more beast than man. Each move brings the death and destruction foretold in his vision inexplicably nearer. With Langor on the brink of war, and King Malaq’s plan for peace hanging in the balance, Ian returns to the ancient past; seeking an end to the eldring spell and a means to thwart Jem’s growing domination. What he finds there sets off a chain of revelations that leads Ian places he never thought to go.
Entrusted with the future of his race, Ian becomes the linchpin for lasting change. But how much weight can one man carry? And how much is he willing to sacrifice in the name of peace?
I MUST KNOW!!
C. L. Schneider is a self-published author of adult epic and urban fantasy. The first two books in her Crown of Stones trilogy, Magic-Price and Magic-Scars, are available on Amazon. The third installment will be released in February 2016. She is currently working on Nite Fire, an urban fantasy featuring a shape-shifting dragon hybrid named Dahlia Nite. C. L. Schneider lives in the scenic Hudson Valley of upstate New York with her husband and two sons. She spends her days torturing characters, overdosing on coffee, and daydreaming about the zombie apocalypse.
Catch up with C. L. Schneider on social media
Amazon Author Page http://bit.ly/CLAmazonPg
Haven’t read book 1 yet? You Absolutely MUST!
Dive into the adventure before book 3 is released!
To celebrate the cover reveal, Magic-Price and Magic-Scars are both on Kindle Countdown from 1/28 to 2/4. Download Magic-Price (book 1) for only .99 & Magic-Scars (book 2) for $1.99!
Visit my Website for excerpts, teasers, reviews, and more!
Radio Interview with Virginia Gray
One thing you’ll remember about Virginia Gray when you speak to her is her excitement. She truly loves her characters and it shows. If you love romantic comedies, you’ll definitely want to catch the recap blog for Bestselling Author, Virginia Gray’s show. Her latest novel, The Interview, is the prequel for Amazon #1 Bestselling novel, The Carrot! Virginia Gray is graduate of Wake Forest University, and a former university professor. And while much of her adult life has been spent writing nonfiction, she decided to pursue a career writing fiction instead. And readers will be very happy she did! Her latest novel, The Interview, is a prequel to her highly acclaimed novel, The Carrot, book two in the Susan Wade Saga...
My last blog in this journey we're taking focused on series creation. We're moving on to letter K in our nonsensical alphabet. K = cover design. The old adage “a picture paints a thousand words” is quite true, but for an author, that picture paints more like several hundred-thousand words, so it needs to be as spot-on as possible. It should give you a feel for what you’re getting yourself into, what you’re about to spend many hours reading. As a writer, I’m very much about the details—the little things that come together to create an excellent experience for the reader. Covers are an important part of it.
In this crazy industry, you may have little idea what goes on behind the scenes in creating the book images you tap on your reader or hold in your hand. In many cases, authors have little or no say about the images that dress their manuscripts, others have some, a few have all.
Friend and colleague, Matthew Peters, author of Conversations Among Ruins, was offered two designs by his publisher. Neither pleased him, but he had no real choice. His wonderful book (and soon to be play) about a drug addict clawing his way from the dark well is fantastic, and I hope you'll check it out. Like him, I don't believe the cover does this powerful book justice.
Harlequin gives New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Romance Author Lori Foster the opportunity to meet and choose the male models whose rock-hard chests beckon to her readers. Boy Lori, that must suck!
Unfettered when it comes to covers, I have free reign, which is both exhilarating and truly terrifying. I trade my author hat for a marketing one and pretend I know something about consumer research and current design trends (PS I did not major in marketing in college, so eek!) My choices may lead to glorious success or abject failure. Regardless, it falls on my shoulders.
The Interview: Susan Wade Saga Book 1 needed a cover, of course. I mean, it can't go around naked! So, I turned to my designer extraordinaire, Ashley Fontaine of One of a Kind Covers for her sage wisdom and a kickin' design. After providing her with a summary of the story, she came up with a look that fit the title and context perfectly.
Her design is clearly geared toward the female audience, my primary readership; though a percentage are male and like my writing enough to look past the, well, “look” of the book. The design has the semblance of our heroine, Susan Wade, crossing the cover with a determined stride, briefcase in hand, going somewhere in a hurry—a city, based on the backdrop. She’s wearing a professional-looking outfit and some mighty fine heels. Hmm…she’s probably en route to an interview, as the title suggests. Beyond the feminine, the pink edging has story significance, as readers will soon discover. Ashley's also chosen a font that's contemporary and and a little quirky, which suits the theme and hints at Susan Wade's personality. Unlike Lori Foster, I didn't have the opportunity to meet the woman whose lovely legs grace the cover, but her images now live on the first two books of The Susan Wade Saga, The Interview and The Carrot. There's continuity for you!
When you view The Interview’s cover, you immediately think Chick lit—a term currently unpopular in the publishing world. The industry now favors “Women’s Fiction”. In fact, Amazon Almighty does not actually have a category termed “Chick lit”. You can search the words, and a number of books will pop up in no particular order, but that's because the author has incorporated said term in his/her metadata (we’ll talk about that at a later time). Interesting, no? But readers are not bound by such terms or fads. We know what we like to read.
So, whether you're looking for Chick Lit or Contemporary Women's Fiction, this cover fits the bill, and the story will give you exactly what you've paid for.
What thoughts do you have on cover art? Please leave them in the comments section below. I’d love to know.
Also, don’t forget to put yourself on my Readers List. I’m always giving away wonderful items to thank my fans for their support. In celebration of the January 2016 release of The Interview, I’m offering up a Kindle Fire. Don’t miss out on that action!
Part 3 of our series focuses on the pages in between.
In the meantime, I hope the next book you read is outstanding!
Twelve Drummers Drumming
Every Light on Every Street
Last year on the night after Christmas, even though it had been an exceptionally busy day, I drove a car-load of family members around the streets of our town. For two and a half hours we drove up and down roads searching out the brightest, most illuminating lights on people’s houses and lawns. My eighty-six year old passenger in the back seat, wrapped in a blanket and clutching a mug of hot chocolate, smiled the whole time and asked me to pull over and look at every light on every street. Two days later we took her into hospital and three weeks after that we lost her.
Doreen Clark was diagnosed with cancer when she was thirty years old. It was a form of cancer that took ninety-five percent of its victims. She beat it. In the following fifty-six years she lost a kidney, suffered heart failure, lost the ability to walk without a walker and overcame it all. She beat everything that was thrown at her. Some people are resilient, she was more than that. She was unbreakable.
In a press release, Amazon called Martin Crosbie one of their success stories of 2012. His self-publishing journey has been chronicled in Publisher's Weekly, Forbes Online, and Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. He’s the author of six books including the Kindle Scout winner “The Dead List – A John Drake Mystery”.
Martin was born in the Highlands of Scotland and currently makes his home just outside Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada.
This concludes our wonderful Twelve Blogs of XMAS. Thanks to Martin Crosbie for gathering a fascinating and diverse group of Authors together for this fun-filled event. If you've missed any blogs during the series, please consult THE LIST. Thanks for reading and sharing the holiday spirit with us!
Eleven Pipers Piping
A lovely post by Cate Pederson
My Christmas Mystery Man
There is certain magic I experience right at midnight on Christmas Eve. The entire world seems to pause and the air is different somehow. I relax completely, despite the recent whirlwind of activity over the past few days and the maelstrom which is to come Christmas morning and continue until New Year. My spine tingles with anticipation as the hour and minute hands join; I almost want to cheer, “It’s here, it’s here!” I look forward to it every year. I cannot recall ever going to bed earlier than midnight on that auspicious night— especially as a child, waiting up for sounds of bells and scraping hooves on the roof.
When my son and daughter were young, it was the same performance each Christmas Eve; I knew my cues perfectly and waited until I heard regular breathing through my daughter’s bedroom door. She was always last to fall asleep. Her father had been the first. I collect the presents hidden under my bed, in closets, above bookcases and wedged between storage containers. I tiptoe towards the tree with an armful of brightly papered boxes with colour-coordinated bows (and extra tape) . . . then freeze as the ball of my foot puts pressure on that part of the floor that squeaks. I imagine the cracking of wood sending shudders through the hall, and under the beds of my sleeping children, jarring them awake . . . Read more
Cate Pedersen is a freelance writer, editor and social media manager. She recently published her first novel and is working on books two and three in the Sister Spirit Series. She is also a contributor in It’s Really 10 Months: Special Delivery, an anthology of birth stories (Special Xmas Sale NOW on Amazon) and an upcoming anthology: Adventures in Potty Training. Cate’s children are now almost grown, so Christmas is not quite as busy, but will always hold a magical place in her heart. Read her “12 Blogs of Christmas” post to find out why!
Facebook: Copycate Writing, Editing & Communications
Last up Martin Crosbie (or Santa). You never know!
Ten Lords A Leaping
Queen of Christmas
Happy holidays to all and a huge thank you to Martin Crosbie for inviting me to be part of the 12 Blogs of Christmas. It’s quite an honor for me, a fledgling author, to be included in such accomplished company, and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to share a tale of my Christmas past.
At an office holiday party a few years ago, I decided to forego the ubiquitous Santa hat and donned a fur-trimmed tiara instead. One of my co-workers dubbed me the “Queen of Christmas”, but I’m merely a pretender to the throne, a princess at best. The title was always owned by my mother who reigned over our family Christmas party like a benevolent dictator. She did all the decorating, the cooking, the cleaning—everything necessary for us to eat, drink and be merry. She provided the playground; we came to play.
Jordan Buchanan was born and spent most of her life in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Now residing in northern Michigan, she misses the Shenandoah Valley but living in the home state of the mighty Detroit Red Wings helps ease the pain.
4Play, her debut publication, is a collection of erotic romance short stories. She is currently working on two novels -- For Love or Money and Xander's Garden.
When she’s not reading, writing, or watching hockey, she enjoys time spent with her charming husband and their three Lab mixes.
Nine Ladies Dancing!
FIRST CAME MARY
Before hate. In spite of war. A few years back I was fortunate to visit the Yucatan, now referred to as the Mayan Riviera. An anthropology buff, I was thrilled to tour the ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza . It was Christmas and I was astonished by the degree of Maryolotry, the inspiration for this poem from my collection Three Blocks West of Wonderland.
It bears repeating, especially…
Trailblazing poet, author and media artist Heather Haley pushes boundaries by creatively integrating disciplines, genres and media. Her writing appears in numerous journals and anthologies including the Antigonish Review, Geist and The Verse Map of Vancouver. Haley was an editor for the LA Weekly and publisher of the Edgewise Cafe, one of Canada’s first electronic literary magazines. She is the author of poetry collections Sideways, Three Blocks West of Wonderland, and debut novel, The Town Slut’s Daughter. Haley’s videopoems are official selections at dozens of international film festivals and she’s toured Canada, the U.S. and Europe in support of two critically acclaimed AURAL Heather CDs of spoken word song.
Find Heather’s blog, One Life at:
Eight Maids A Milking...
How Mrs. Claus Got Her Groove Back
Emma Claus looked from the crackling log in the fireplace to the cheerful cards on the mantel and the string of twinkling lights she’d woven among them. But the yuletide trappings still left her cold. She’d tried everything to awaken her Christmas spirit: hitting the Black Friday sales online, reading letters from the children, baking tray after tray of cookies. Even the sappiest of holiday movies failed to lift her mood. Even the ones with Colin Firth.
Just to make sure she’d given Hollywood a fair shake, she clicked the remote to the Hallmark Channel, which was showing the same snowed-in romance brewing at the same over-decorated country inn. Emma merely clucked her tongue. “Fools,” she said. “Do those innkeepers ever sleep? All that work! Cooking and cleaning! Sweeping up pine needles, drizzling everything with tinsel just so, tending the fires in every room and dusting twice a day from all the ash…what kind of life is that?”
Please read on http://laurieboris.com/2015/12/20/mrs_claus/
Writer, editor, and proofreader
Laurie Boris is a freelance writer and copyeditor. At one time, she was a magician’s assistant, although she was very bad at it. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of six novels including her latest, A Sudden Gust of Gravity. When not hanging out with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she enjoys baseball, reading, and avoiding housework.
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Seven Swans A Swimming
The Twelve Things I'm Most Grateful for This Christmas
I’m once again participating in the 12 Blogs of Christmas with eleven other writers, organized by Martin Crosbie. As part of the event, we are to write about—not surprisingly—Christmas. Many of the other eleven bloggers have written about fond or funny memories of Christmas. Last year, I wrote about my fraught relationship with Christmas—acknowledging the magic of Christmas but also the busy-ness, commercial aspects, and guilt associated with Christmas (we have so much, and so many people have so little). So I can’t do that again. Most of my stories about Christmas go something like… we got too much, ate too much, spent too much (even though we don’t spend that much), stressed about a turkey, and were really happy to be able to go skiing and eat leftovers on Boxing Day.
I exaggerate. I’m sure I’ve had some nice Christmases, but since I’m often up to my elbows in a turkey, and have not had any famous disasters, they are not the stuff of stories. Then again, my memory is famously poor—all that living half the time in another world. This year I’ll be sure to burn the turkey, so I have something to tell you about next year (Hmm, I’m getting a strong turkey vibe here. It might be time to start serving Christmas steak).
To me, Christmas is about gratitude and reflection on a year gone by. In an effort to dredge up some Christmas spirit (and not seem like cross between Eeyore and the Grinch—I promise I’m actually not—Christmas commercials make me cry), I decided to do a post on the 12 writing things I’m most grateful for this Christmas. That’s not to imply that there are not a lot of non-writing things I am grateful for (there are so many of those things), but this is a writing blog (and I think this sentence is a triple-negative) so…
Jennifer lives in the mountains of British Columbia where she can be found writing, hiking, skiing, borrowing dogs, and evading bears. She also works as a climate change researcher, evaluator and strategic planner. She has wanted to be a writer since she first read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and didn’t want to come out of the wardrobe.
Jennifer writes science fiction, romance and dystopian fiction for children and adults, including In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation and A Pair of Docks, which was a bestseller in children's time travel fiction. She has also contributed to several anthologies, most notably Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel, which hit #16 in the Kindle Store.
You can subscribe to her blog for writing tips, industry insights, and two free short stories at www.jenniferellis.ca, and check out her writing on Amazon at: http://bit.ly/jenniferellis. She tweets about writing, cats, and teenagers at @jenniferlellis.
Next Up: Laurie Boris
Six Geese A Laying
The Place for Humbug During the Holiday Season
By RJ Crayton
Bah, humbug! There, I said it.
I know. It’s the Christmas season. Everything is warm and fuzzy like in greeting cards, sappy viral videos and TV movies. Only, it’s not all warm and fuzzy all the time, because greeting cards and video specials aren’t real life. Everyone feels like saying, “Bah, humbug,” at least once during the holiday season. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s not that the season isn’t full of joy. It’s just that the season is also full of commitments — clashing office holiday parties, school parties, recitals, plays, church performances, family gatherings, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes you just want to shout, “Bah, humbug,” hop into bed, and huddle under the covers with a flashlight and your favorite book. (Those old enough to remember, may even want to hop into a tub, and shout, “Calgone, take me away.”*)
So, this is just a little post to remind you that you get to have a “Bah, humbug” moment or two this holiday season. Not everything will go the way you want it to. There’s someone you’ll want to see, who you can’t see. You’ll have family you don’t want to see, who you have to see.
… Read the rest of this article here.
RJ Crayton is a little young lady who writes fiction when she’s not parenting her two children or wifing her one husband. She writes about characters in peril, who sometimes find a moment for romance. Crayton is occasionally humorous, often right, and always curious. She loves the Christmas season and baking. Due to her severe cupcake addiction, Crayton tries to avoid baking cupcakes, except during the holidays. (As an aside, for the perfect mesh of holiday cheer and cupcakes, check out this recipe.) Crayton has published a three-book dystopian series (Life First), a book on self publishing and a short story collection about motherhood. She also is a contributor at Indies Unlimited, a site for independent publishers. In 2016, Crayton plans to release a novel about a deadly virus and a humorous book on motherhood. You can learn more about her at http://www.rjcrayton.com.
Five Golden Rings
Day 5 Brings us a cold and Snowy story from Gordon Long
A Cold Canadian Christmas
My transportation for the Christmas of 1967 was Dad’s 1958 Mercury pickup. It was one of the first “full box” pickups, instead of the old “step sides,” and I thought it was pretty classy. Think of the picture above with a front bumper and a two-tone paint job: white above, teal below. I was home from university, and Dad was out of the bush because it was too cold to work, so I was pretty well free to drive it around. Loggers can’t work below about -30 because metal gets so brittle that equipment breaks. It’s rather hard on people, too.
Yes, the Christmas of 1967 was rather cold. I came home from visiting friends on Boxing Day, and the weather report said it was going to be -60F that night (That’s -51 for you Celsius types). I plugged in the block heater of the pickup and waited for that reassuring gurgle that told me it was working.
Brought up in a logging camp with no electricity, Gordon Long learned his storytelling in the traditional way: at his father’s knee. He spends his time editing, publishing, travelling, sailboat racing and writing fantasy and social commentary, although sometimes the boundaries blur.
Gordon lives in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, with his wife, Linda, and their Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Josh. When he isn’t publishing, he works on projects with the Surrey Seniors’ Planning Table.
He has published two books this Christmas:
“Mountains of Mischief” Book 3 in the World of Change series,
“Storm over Savournon” a novel of the French Revolution
Next Up: R J Clayton!
Have a wonderful, book-a-ful Holiday!
If you've missed a blog, click here: Links to Twelve blogs
Four Calling Birds...
I wasn’t always so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to believe in that mystical Santa—very badly, in fact. I also wanted to believe in the stories I read. I wanted to believe there was a Middle Earth, where hobbits and wizards and dragons ran amuck. I prayed that Narnia existed, and that I might be lucky enough to discover one of its secret passages—they’re everywhere, you know. I truly hoped there was a wrinkle in time, and that I might be called upon to save our very universe. I wanted to believe in that kind of magic!
Now, as an adult with two children—one, a teen very much in the “wink-wink” stage, and the other in danger of stumbling off that narrow precipice of “I must believe, I must believe” and landing in the valley of “Seriously, Mom, Santa’s signature looks exactly like yours”, I walk a fine line between what is real and what is believable. Lucky for me, I’m a writer, and writers, much like Santa, are in the magic business.
Authors create believable worlds and conjure entities that walk and talk and do amazing and ridiculous things. We've been graced with the ability to fashion stories that ignite your imagination, and in some cases, spark again from time to time.
The magical embers of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Madeleine L'Engle still smolder in my mind. Every now and then, I think of Aslan or Bilbo or Meg Murray and wonder if there could be portals through which my children might step to meet the childhood literary friends I made—or even better, to make their own. I hope they believe in that magic as strongly as I did. The reality: those doors do exist. But they're not made of iron or rock, and they're probably not nestled behind fur coats in old, forgotten wardrobes. The passages I speak of are framed in paper.
The greatest present a writer can give you this season, or any other, is the gift of our books. We offer you mystery and suspense, love and laughter, time travel and fantastical worlds, gripping biographies and memoirs. There is real magic lurking within the pages we have written. Magic you can believe in!
So, in the end, as long as you believe authors are real, the answer to that famous question is a resounding Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
Have a wonderful holiday season filled with literary magic!
Bio: Virginia Gray is a bestselling women’s fiction novelist. A former university professor, she stepped away from academics to pursue a writing career. She is a great lover of humor, music, and all things food, and is best known for The Susan Wade Saga.
Please continue to enjoy the work of my colleagues during The Twelve Blogs of xmas!
Next up Gordon Long!
Three French Hens...
A Wonderful story of home and family...
The big man’s boot carefully kicked aside a remaining hunk of what appeared to be a roof rafter. Burnt nearly to ash, it had almost no weight to it. Still, it was best to be careful. Any of the smoldering pile of debris that had been their family home could yet be white-hot. He didn’t need a burnt foot; he had enough trouble already.
Rob Finn’s young family had few enough possessions before the fire. Now, it seemed, they had none. Farming their tiny acreage had barely provided enough food in the good times. Along with everything else they’d lost, even their supply of necessary food stuffs were gone. What would they do?
Click here to read more…
Bio: In addition to being an avid history and genealogy buff, Keith has been an avid outdoorsman his entire life. He has a variety of hats in the business world after completing two periods of duty with the US Navy. His hobbies apart from reading and research include shooting, teaching others the basics of gun safety & handling. Until recently he took an active role in local and regional politics as a public speaker and campaign consultant.
Keith and his wife Leni have enjoyed living several places in the US, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Montana.They have two adult children, two adult foster children and nine grandchildren scattered around the country. www.keithrbaker.com
Read about Rob Finn and his family in the Longshot series, beginning with Longshot In Missouri, price reduced through Christmas, here.
Next Up...Wow, that's me! Virginia Gray
Two Turtle Doves...
Ho Ho Ho and Happy Monday! Day two of the 12 Blogs of Christmas Tour with author Sarah Lane.
Sarah disappeared this past year down the rabbit hole of writing a new book (an upcoming YA psychological novel) about a cerebral seventeen-year old who struggles to learn to salsa dance only to be shown up by her doppelgänger.
About Sarah Lane:
Sarah Lane is the author of The God of My Art, the story of a young woman’s journey to become an artist and a quarter finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Lane’s short fiction and poetry have also featured in a number of literary magazines, including The Antigonish Review, Roar Magazine, and Quills: Canadian Poetry Magazine.
Sarah Lane hopes you will enjoy listening to this reading from her young adult crossover novel The God of My Art. This chapter is taken from near the end of the book, when Helene visits her mother over the winter holidays. Ms. Lane’s blog on the 14th will be a video recording of a reading she gave from her novel The God of My Art.
(To learn when the novel comes out, make sure to sign up to be notified of Ms. Lane’s new releases here).
Each of the “Twelve Blogs of Christmas” will feature a post by a different author every day until the 24th.
Make sure to check back daily to meet a wide array of authors, and happy holidays, whatever your traditions!
Up next: Gina Loveless
You can find the rest of the line-up here: 12 Blogs Line-up
A wonderful collection of Author contributions. Follow Along, and Happy Holidays!
Happy Sunday! We’re kicking off our 12 Blogs of Christmas Tour with author Ellen Chauvet. Ellen lives in Vancouver, Canada, where long months of rain are particularly conducive to writing dark stories. You can learn more about her at her website.
Here's what she wrote:
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
Composed by Clement C. Moore
When Martin Crosbie invited me to participate in the 12 blogs of Christmas I immediately said yes. I’ve always treasured Christmas and the opportunity to share my love of Clement Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nick” poem appealed to me. After several hours of research, the following is what I gleaned...
(Up next: Sarah Lane)
Follow link: https://ellenchauvet.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/avisit-from-st-nick/
So an author has spent months—years, even—writing a book. Now what? Well, it’s time for her to go about the business of publishing it. I won’t lead you through the great expanse of discovery, as this is my second book, and that would take eons. Plus, it's been done. What I will instead do, is provide you a voyeuristic adventure, where you'll peek behind the curtain to watch a crazed author take a book to the shelves. Stay close beside me, it’s a little scary.
I'm at stage…oh, let’s call it J for simplicity’s sake. At stage J, I have already written said novel, fought with my proofreaders and content editor about this sentence and that coma, and how convoluted the flashback section seems, and the lost the battle commonly known as "How come I can't use semicolons anywhere I want? I like them, they're the eyes of the winky face emoticon for goodness sakes!" My critical readers have had their say, and corrections have been made accordingly. Now it's book cover time.
I should interject here that stages A through stage H are about the same for both traditionally published authors (the ones whose eBooks cost around $12.99) and independently published authors (the ones whose eBooks typically retail for $4.99 or less)—you’ll understand the pricing differences all too soon. I am the latter, by the way. We call ourselves Indies. Based on political affiliation, this is about the place where the two groups diverge.
At stage H, the traditionally published author is ushered offstage by her publishing people and locked back in her tower to write the next revenue-generating masterpiece. But what of the indie? The indie, having chosen to lop off all—and I do mean ALL—of the upper management, has got quite a bit left to do before returning to her tower.
So...back to stage J: The Cover. I use a wonderful designer, Ashley Fontaine, owner of One of a Kind Designs. She created the award-winning masterpiece that is The Carrot's cover, so, of course, I absolutely must have her on this project. (Note said masterpiece, combining the "real" human-type image used on so many women's fiction covers, and the cartoonish city backdrop seen in chick lit) My writing is a melding of these two genres. The city and briefcase indicate a serious business woman, and the legs crossed at the ankles behind the case, suggest the character's vulnerability. Brilliant!
Now before we plow on, I should also mention that my situation is somewhat unique: I’m moving backwards-- literally. I wrote The Carrot as a standalone novel with a clear beginning, middle, and end, wrapped up nice and tight with a pretty orange bow on top. Well, much to my surprise, my fans demanded more—harassed me on Facebook and here on the website in which I dwell. Authors are entertainers in their base form, and any entertainer with half an IQ point knows better than to deny fans. Okay people, more it is! A sequel, which I am now writing during thieved moments. But wait, something is missing...
Susan Wade, my twenty-nine year old heroine, is hell on wheels, which makes her entertaining to say the least, but some readers commented that it took them a while to warm up to her. I want them to know, love, and commiserate with her from page one. I pondered how to attack this conundrum and decided that readers might enjoy getting to know Susan before she becomes the somewhat vicious and altogether jaded business woman creature they meet at the beginning of The Carrot. A story about a younger Susan: a messy, hopeful college girl embarking on her search for the American dream, stardom, the moon! (Or, that job that will mold her into said fierce and battle-scarred almost thirty-something woman).
What I've described would be termed a "prequel". But what to do with such an animal? After conferring with some trusted colleagues (we indies do that--openly share and wholly support one another), it was suggested that this prequel spearhead a series, of which that beautiful, wayward vegetable novel would become a part. The series would need a name, of course. "The Carrot Series" would make no sense, because: one, The Carrot is now second in the series (I'm a chronological kind of girl), and two, a "carrot" is a business term that really only applies to that particular story.
I/We/I decided on the Susan Wade Saga—a tongue in cheek of sorts, as Susan's life truly is one gigantic saga. So, this fresh off the farm prequel, entitled, The Interview, becomes Susan Wade Saga: Book 1, and The Carrot becomes Susan Wade Saga: Book 2. It’s like giving birth to a baby, and then later adopting a child who is older than the baby. Tricky business, because the baby, who has been with you longest, is no longer your eldest. Still with me?
So, as just stated, my baby has now become Book 2. Well, there’s our next problem. Do you see it? The Carrot’s cover must be altered to reflect its new position in the family line. "Ashley, Oh Ashley…"
Voila, Ashley saves the day! With a nip here and a tuck there, I have the new and improved cover. It bears noting that this blog has just turned into its unveiling. So….Ta Da!
It might seem confusing to readers who wander by the electronic shelves and notice that there is no "Book 1" companion piece beside The Carrot, so I don’t plan to exchange covers until the eleventh hour—which is rapidly approaching, I might add.
We’ll save the The Interview: Susan Wade Saga Book 2 cover discussion for the next blog in this series/saga/series.
Until we meet again, please keep reading!!
~Virginia Gray, Author of the Bestselling novel, The Carrot
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The influx of self-published books and their success in the marketplace is indicative of an open-minded audience willing to try unfamiliar names not backed by large publishing houses. It’s a truly great time to be an author!