Category Archives: Christmas

Holiday Happenings!

Merry Christmas Eve!

PJ Sharon here, there, and everywhere, currently coming to you from the coziness of my living room.christmas tree I’m wrapping last minute packages and the smell of fresh baked cornbread is wafting in from the kitchen. I hope you’re all taking some time off during the holidays to spend with loved ones. I’m grabbing a few days off, but since writers are never totally on vacation, here’s what I’ll be up to until the end of the month.

For the past ten days, I’ve been part of the Sleigh Bells Ring, Are you Listening, giant audiobook giveaway hosted by Rita Award winning author, Wendy Lindstrom. Today is the last day to enter if you want to be in the running for a chance to win some awesome audiobooks, an MP3 Player, or even an iPod Nano! Just click here to bring you to the Sleigh Bells Ring are you Listening contest page where you’ll find a Rafflecopter entry form. It’s super easy, and only takes a minute, I promise!Sleighbells ring promo pic You might even win an audiobook of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES.

I’m also participating in the Awesome Indies Holiday Book Bonanza, where dozens of e-books are on sale for only .99 cents between December 26-30th.aia_holidays (1) If you aren’t familiar with Awesome Indies, it’s a great organization of Industry professionals who read, rate, and review books by Independently published authors. They have very stringent criteria that have to be met, so you can rest assured that approved books are top notch! I’m proud to say, WANING MOON and WESTERN DESERT made the cut and are now listed on their front page! For my writing friends out there, check out their website at http://awesomeindies.net/ for some invaluable resource material (check out their criteria for submission info).

While WANING MOON, book one in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael is only .99 cents, WESTERN DESERT, book two in the trilogy is up for FREE from December 26-28th.

Available NOW!
Available NOW!

 Bookmark this page and come back during the sale for easy links to the books on Amazon or find links on the Awesome Indies Holiday Bonanza Book sale page. With all those new Kindles under Christmas trees everywhere, I couldn’t think of a better time to offer WESTERN DESERT up for FREE! If you’ve got teen readers at home or enjoy reading YA dystopian romance yourself, here is your chance to get both books for less than a dollar. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Please help me spread the word about this great opportunity by sharing this post on your Facebook page, twitter, or other social media. Simply click on the social media button of choice below and add a note of encouragement for friends to download WESTERN DESERT for FREE from Thursday to Saturday this week. Promotions like this are the best way authors can give back to readers, and readers can show their support of their favorite authors by spreading the news, leaving reviews, and chatting about the books with friends and family. As always, your support is greatly appreciated and means the world to me. May you be blessed with good health, peace, prosperity, balance and harmony in the coming year!

So that’s where I’ll be and what I’ll be up to for the next week or so. In the meantime, enjoy the holidays, squeeze in some “healthy” food choices, and plan a nice hike for after your Christmas dinner.

I’m making our traditional spiral ham. How about you?

Who wants a mean Santa? by J Monkeys

Good Morning Scriblers!  J Monkeys here.   I’m so sorry that I’ve missed the last two weeks!  Would you believe that I’ve been so busy, I forgot it was Saturday?  YIKES.

Today, in honor of the upcoming holiday, I wanted to take a moment to talk about a film that used to be a favorite of mine, but which I now loathe.  Yes, I’m talking about the clay-mation classic: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Rudolph the red nosed reindeerHave you watched this movie as an adult?  If you are responsible for the care of children, then you will be even more horrified.  First, Rudolph’s own father basically calls him a freak for having an unusual nose and makes him hide it.  Then Santa, that paragon of kindness and joy, sees it and tells Donner that his son’s not good enough to schlep a ton of toys through the sky.  Then of course the flying coach, their pal, gets all the other children to join him in mocking one of the little yearlings. That’s some really awful bullying.  Only when Rudolph’s nose becomes useful to Santa is he finally accepted onto the team. 

It’s no better for the elves.  Setting aside the terrible treatment of Herbie, watch what happens when the elves perform for Santa.  They sing their little hearts out, only to have the head elf (Santa) grunt at them and dash away.  What a jerk!

Even Yukon Cornelius gets in on the nasty action.  Once he defeats the Bumble, he taunts him, forcibly removes his teeth, then puts that wild beast on a leash and drives him around the north pole. 

I find that whenever my kids watch this movie, I have to stand there commenting how “We would never behave this way, would we!”   It takes something away from the viewing experience, I think.

Both the Year Without a Santa Claus and Santa Claus is Coming to Town are better, although the later has that whole disturbing song about how if you sit on a strange man’s lap and pay the price of a kiss, you’ll get gift. 

But no matter how you like your holiday movies, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy Boxing Day, Festive Solstice and Safe New Year.

~ J

 

 

SEEKING CHRISTMAS with Brenda Maxfield

Welcome Scribers and Readers, PJ Sharon here. I have with me as today’s guest, Brenda Maxfield. Her short story, SEEKING CHRISTMAS hit home with me since neither of my two sons has a relationship with their dad. Brenda Maxfield’s perspective from the minds of teen siblings, Courtney and Dennis, truly reflected how I imagine my sons dealing with this situation. And may I also say, I LOVE this cover!

Blurb for Seeking Christmas (an Ocean Mist short story Two):

Brenda Maxfield-SeekingChristmasCover

The Christmas season has eighteen-year-old Courtney crossing the state line with her little brother Dennis to rendezvous with the man who deserted them years ago. Courtney remembers him only as the tall man who ran away. Dennis doesn’t remember him at all.

Courtney is furious, but Denny is curious. Will their meeting result in a happy Christmas memory or another miserable disappointment?

I asked Brenda what made her write this as a short story. Here’s what she had to say.Take it away Brenda…

Thanks PJ!

My first thought is that “Short Can Be Sweet”. But there was more to my decision than simply wanting to write a short story. Here’s what happened.

Open Call for Submissions: Such musical words of opportunity to any writer’s ears.

Except when such writer is buried deep in her latest work-in-progress and stretched thin between a day job, family, and uh, well, trying to stay sane!

That’s where I found myself a while back when my publisher put out a call for submissions. Sometimes emails are ripped open like paper envelopes showing checks through tiny little windows — and that’s how I opened that one. Yet even while my eyes flew downward over the content, censuring comments such as, “Who are you kidding, Brenda? You’re insane. All you need is another project…” coursed through my mind.

You know how it goes, scolding yourself even as you continue with whatever you were doing. (Hmmm, now I’m thinking about that luscious half-eaten piece of dark chocolate cake. But I digress.) My scolding continued until my eyes landed on the phrase, “Short stories only. No longer than 5,000 words.”

I major perked up. That I could do! That I could find the time for!

I’d never considered short stories as part of my writing career. I love the YA novel, the joy of unfolding a character’s crisis, angst, redemption, and growth over the course of chapters. I didn’t realize the fun of writing a short story: the smaller time frame to completion, the opportunity to give readers a taste of your style, and the possibility for those same readers to get hooked and become fans of your novels.

I did answer that open call and send a short story to my publisher. I’ve also self-pubbed two other short stories. The first was Player, which introduced the characters in Buried Truth. (Writing about two-faced Daniela in Player turned out to be a blast. Oy, I couldn’t stand the girl!) And this season, I’ve released Seeking Christmas, dealing with the aftermath of Cornered, which is releasing in a few weeks.

Christmas in September

I couldn’t bear to let the Christmas season go by without a release. So in September, I started playing with the characters from Cornered in my mind. I wondered what would happen if Courtney heard from her jerk of a dad — the guy who deserted her and disappeared like so much water down the drain years previously. Would she want to see him? Could she swallow her anger long enough to hear him out? And what about her little brother? Would taking Denny to meet the guy result in a disaster? What kind of Christmas would it turn out to be?

The characters wouldn’t stay quiet, yet I knew I didn’t have time to write another full. Thus, the short story Seeking Christmas was born. (It’s @ 8,000 words.)

I loved it. I loved the whole process. We writers are fortunate to have many avenues to get the stories out of our heads and onto the page. Short stories are just one of those ways. I heartily encourage all writers to give them a whirl!

And of course, I’d be totally thrilled if you’d give Seeking Christmas a read. During this season, take a bit of time to curl up with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate (if you’re in the northern hemisphere) and take a trip with Courtney and her little brother in Seeking Christmas.  I hope you enjoy it!

Seeking Christmas Purchase Links:

Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/ky7oxzu

Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/jvktfxz

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/373439

Ocean Mist Books:  http://brendamaxfield.com/ocean-mist-series.html

Author Bio:

Brenda Maxfield author PhotoMy passion is writing! What could be more delicious than inventing new characters and seeing where they take you?

I’m a teacher so I spend most of my waking hours with young people. I love chatting with them and hearing their views on love and life. My students are magical, and I am honored to be part of their lives.

I’ve lived in Honduras, Grand Cayman, and Costa Rica. Presently, I live in Indiana with my husband, Paul. We have two grown children and three precious grandchildren, special delivery from Africa.

When not teaching, I love to hole up in our lake cabin and write — often with a batch of popcorn nearby. (Oh, and did I mention dark chocolate?)

I enjoy getting to know my readers, so feel free to write me at: contact@brendamaxfield.com . Join my newsletter at: http://mad.ly/signups/85744/join. Visit me to learn about all my books and some smart and sassy, clean teen reads: www.brendamaxfield.com  Happy Reading!

Contact Links for Brenda Maxfield:

Website:  http://www.brendamaxfield.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/AuthorBrendaMaxfield

Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6570620.Brenda_Maxfield

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BrendaMaxfield

Blog:  http://www.brendamaxfield.wordpress.com

Email:  contact@brendamaxfield.com

Amazon Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/psj82bj     

Don’t Miss any News! Join my Newsletter Ganghttp://mad.ly/signups/85744/join

Thanks for joining us today, Brenda! Readers, if you have any questions or comments for Ms. Maxfield, please don’t be shy!

How about you? Do you like to read short stories? Have any favorites you’d like to share? Are you reading any wonderful Christmas stories right now? We’d love to know!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Hey folks, Suze here. Happy December! Hope you’re celebrating with friends and family in whatever way is meaningful to you.

We haven’t revealed a secret in a while, so here’s one about me: I’m a big ole baby when it comes to Christmas specials. I always cry at the end. Always. Of course, I have been known to cry at Cialis commercials too–Oh, that poor, poor man! And his wife! *sob* But now they’re happy again! *sobbing more vigorously*.

Here are some of my favorite Christmas specials, in no particular order of loved-ness:

We still love you, Uncle Billy!
We still love you, Uncle Billy!

It’s a Wonderful Life. This one goes without saying. Jimmy Stewart is goofy, charming, and way over the top with his performance of the beleaguered George Bailey. Favorite character? I’m going to go with Clarence Oddbody. And seriously. How long has this movie been around? Sixty-seven years and Uncle Billy still loses the sack of money at the bank every time. And I blat like a baby at the end. Flaming R-r-r-um Punch for everyone!

I'll have some of that eggnog in a Wallyworld cup, please. And a dickie for my sweater!
I’ll have some of that eggnog in a Wallyworld cup, please. And a dickie for my sweater!

Christmas Vacation. I just can’t get enough of the Griswolds. Will Clark get his Christmas bonus? It’s always a nailbiter. Not that I’d really want to have him over for dinner or anything, but wouldn’t it be nice to have someone like Eddie to stand up for you and fight for what’s right by kidnapping your cheap and clueless, jelly-of-the-month club-giving boss? My tears during this movie are tears of laughter. Jell-O mold for everyone!

Sing, it kids (and dog!)
Sing, it kids (and dog!)

Charlie Brown Christmas. No list of holiday specials would be complete without the Peanuts gang, dancing and ignoring poor Charlie Brown while he’s trying to direct the Christmas play. Rock on, Snoopy. You’ve got the best display of lights in town. Here, I cry when the pathetic little Christmas tree is transformed by love. Tens and twenties and real estate for everyone!

You're too much!
You’re too much!

Anything by Rankin and Bass. Except The Little Drummer Boy. I’ve always hated that one. But all the ones with Santa are good. Remember when Kris gives the Burgermeister Meisterburger a toy? And when he common-law marries Jessica (shocking, really! No officiant? Are Kris and Jessica living in sin?). Both scenes make me cry. Favorite character has got to be the Heat Miser and all his little Mini-Misers. Ba-dum-ba-dum, ba-a-a-ah-dum! Oh, fine. Here’s a link to the song. Remember you asked for it when you can’t get it out of your head for the next few weeks.

Get in the holiday spirit, man. Seriously.
Get in the holiday spirit, man. Seriously.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas. My all-time, never-to-be-supplanted favorite. I’m talking about the animated version, not the Jim Carrey movie. Don’t get me started on that one. But when the Grinch saves that sleigh full of tartoofas and stuff–even when it’s clearly impossible for him to do so, the sleigh having slipped way too far off Mount Crumpet–I bawl at his transformation, every time. Rare roast beast and Who Hash for everyone!

How about you? What’s your favorite Christmas show or movie? Feel free to leave quotes or to sing the songs!

 

How Does He Know …?

Greetings of the season everyone. Thea Devine today. I hope you all had a magical Christmas. I know I did, having spent three days previous to Christmas and Christmas day itself, with our grandson. I now know the purpose of grandmothers — it is to have the joy of stepping back, as I’ve commented to some of you — and really see and appreciate everything that as a first time mother you were to scared, too cautious, too focused on not making a mistake to notice.

I was thirty-two when my first son was born, absolutely certain I was ready, had the reserve of patience, balance and practicality to deal with a newborn. NOT. I was on the phone with my mom-in-law every day. I was scared witless. And sometimes felt helpless.

But this first-time grandma found that all her apprehension about whether she even remembered what to do with a baby evaporated in weeks and what took hold was observing the miracle of his progression from newborn to nearly 11 month old and all he’s learned in between.

How does he know …
to open his mouth like a little bird when Mama feeds him; to reach, to grab, to hold; to kick; to get up on his knees and rock back and forth; to push a button; to sit; to manipulate things with his fingers; to laugh — what is funny to a baby? –; to be in on the joke: when I’m feeding him, sometimes he catches my eye just as he clamps down on the spoon with his teeth, and then he gives me a big smile.

How does he know that? He’s about two steps and a couple of bounces away from walking and talking. He babbles non-stop. He’s the energizer bunny. He found the kitchen cabinets. How did he know? He can spend a day pulling himself to a standing position, taking two steps and flopping, and up again before you can count to five. How does he know that pushing his cover into a mound in his crib will elevate him to see better? How does he know that’s him in the mirror? How did he figure out what a kiss is, and to respond by pressing his open mouth against my cheek?

I am awed and floored by his progression so far. He is excellent company, easy to be with. His one year birthday is coming soon and I can’t wait to see what happens after that. But that’s his story.

There’s a lesson here for authors too. Step back sometimes and really see what’s going on in your manuscript. Consider the small things, the simple things about your characters and why and how they know what they know and do what they do. Don’t let them take baby steps. Let them grow organically. Let them show you what they want to be when they grow up.

Any grandmas out there? What awes you about your grandchild?

Thea Devine’s books defined erotic historical romance. She’s currently working on her next erotic contemporary romance.

Donate Comfort for Sandy Hook Parents and Families

 

Hello all, Katy Lee here with a very special way you can help the families of Sandy Hook. Our author friend and past guest, Alice J. Wisler, has just released a comforting book for parents who have lost a child called Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, and she would love to get a book in every victim’s families hands. I personally don’t believe in coincidences, and Alice’s story of her own loss and grief of losing a child–and then her new book–sprang to mind when I was wondering how I could reach out to the families. Then I learned she was one step ahead of me. Here is her post from her blog:

OOn December 14, 2012, a tragedy too awful to believe could happen, did happen. Twenty-six people were shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty children died. Six adults died.

I know the devastation of having a child die.

My cousin in Maryland asked if I’d donate one of my novels for an auction to benefit the survivors—those lost in the anguish and sorrow. I signed one of my novels and put it in a mail to her.

Later today, a Facebook friend, Lisa Schorp, wanted to know if my new book, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache, could reach the hands of those devastated. Her message: To tell them that God is near.

Suddenly I realized that maybe I should act on this desire of Lisa’s.

People could sponsor my new devotional, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache and a batch of books could be sent with a note to the elementary school for each family who lost a loved one.

My book is written as raw and real; I know the pain of loss. There are also passages of hope, love and comfort. This book has been called a companion through grief. Eugene Peterson writes about it:

“Believe me, you will be changed as you read this book—a book of grief and comfort. Written without easy answers, but with gritty, courageous prayer, wrestling like Jacob with God’s angel.” ~ Eugene H Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Recent College, Vancouver, B.C.; translator of The Message

“Hope stirs fresh in Getting Out of Bed in the Morning as Alice Wisler tenderly challenges the remnants of our grieving hearts to a healing journey. This book is a safe place to reconcile painful losses; a graceful guide through the uncharted and often complex landscape of grief and loss. Alice’s heart whispers an understanding that comes only from one who has tasted consuming heartache yet uncovered the hope of God’s sustaining grace.” ~ Jo Ann Fore, Author, Founder of WriteWhereItHurts.org

(Read more about Getting Out of Bed in the Morning here.)

If you like this idea and would like to make a donation, please send a check made out to me using the snail mail address below. If you want to stay tuned in and have updates on the amount contributed as well as when the books will be sent, etc., email me at info@alicewisler.com with the subject: “Comfort to Sandy Hook”. I will send out periodic updates.

Let’s make Lisa’s wonderful suggestion come true!

Mail your donation to:
Daniel’s House Publications
201 Monticello Avenue
Durham, NC 27707 USA

OR

Donate via Paypal on her site at: http://www.alicewisler.blogspot.com/2012/12/donate-book-for-sandy-hook-parents-and.html

Thank you, Alice, and thank you everyone who has helped in some way, from prayer to time and everything in between. You are blessed to be a blessing, and Merry Christmas to you all!!!

#26Acts of Kindness

Hey, all, Suze here. I hope your holiday season, no matter what or how you celebrate, is full of joy, hope, and love this year.

Have you heard about #26Acts of Kindness? It’s a movement started by Ann Curry (@AnnCurry) (click here to read more) as a tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy. I can’t think of a better way to honor these children and heroines than by spreading kindness in small increments throughout the world, not just during the holidays but every day.

Please, pay it forward and pass it on. The world is already a better place. And feel free to tell us about your Kind Acts in the Comments section. It’s not bragging–it’s inspiring!

I’ll leave you with a quick recipe to counteract all the rich food and sweet-sweet-yummies you’ve probably been eating since Thanksgiving: Simple Vegetable Soup. Why not make a double batch and take some to a neighbor, and have a nice visit while you’re there?

SIMPLE VEGETABLE SOUP

Wash and chop up an onion, a couple of carrots, a couple of stalks of celery, and crush a couple of cloves of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil. Saute all in a saucepan over medium heat until the vegetables are fragrant (do not brown). Add a medium sized can of crushed tomatoes and a small can of chicken, beef, or vegetable broth (for a vegan version), and a tablespoon of Italian seasoning (less if you don’t want it too spicy). Simmer over low-medium heat for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Serve in a big bowl with some parmesan cheese (fresh grated, if possible; vegans, obviously omit). Enjoy!