Blogging On Christmas-Bah Humbug!

Have I ever written a Christmas story? Nope. I’m part Scrooge. I love Christmas, but I have no desire to frame an entire book around one holiday. I do have a Thanksgiving wedding in one book, and we survive a shooting on Christmas in another, but they are only there because that’s where the timeline fell. I can assure you, I didn’t plan it that way.

Do I have a favorite Christmas story? Nope. In fact, if I can tell a book is centered on a holiday, I pass it by. Why? I told you, part Scrooge. As a matter of fact, I’m feeling pretty Scroogie right now. The family Christmas this year of no less than nineteen bodies nearly did me in. Too many cranky kids! All I wanted to do was come home and go to bed, but I balked at a 6:45 bedtime. I’m not that old.

My next option was to sit down and watch my favorite Christmas movie. A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim is the bomb. I love it. But instead of wallowing in an awesome tale of redemption, I’m writing this blog. It’s no one’s fault but my own. And the fact that it’s Christmas.You know, meeting yourself at the door time.

I should be doing the dishes from cooking pumpkin bread and taco salad but again, nope, I’m typing. Our holiday meal today was south of the border. My youngest son submitted it was a two-for-one, a tasty meal that provided its own entertainment later in the evening. Oh, did I say, my son? I meant the father of three of my grandkids. I would never raise someone so gauche. 

On that lovely note I think I will end this epistle with a good-bye. This is my last blog. I will be going to school in South Carolina for three months so will be leaving WARA in 2015. If you’ve ever had a hankering to try your hand at writing, check us out. WARA is full of good people. 

I know that the holiday officially ended last night, but I’m going to say it anyway. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to each and every one of you.

Christmas Comes But Once a Year (Penny Rader)

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Our topic this month is Have you ever written a Christmas book? or What's your favorite Christmas book?

I haven't yet written a full story centered around Christmas, but Christmas does find its way into a couple scenes of my historical romance, Sapphire and Gold.  I shared one scene in a blog post a couple years back, Christmas Romance.  Here's another snippet, from the black moment (very short, so as not to give away too much):
The four of them kept a vigil for the remainder of the night. When the first light of day streaked across the sky, Derek’s fever broke and he settled into a healing sleep. Alexandra refused to leave the chamber, insistent upon being there when he awoke.
She passed the eve of Christmas by the side of the man she loved. Derek’s parents and sisters took turns sitting with Alexandra as did Polly. Jillian visited often, seemingly content to sit by Alexandra’s side.
Derek opened his eyes for a moment to smile at her before slumber once again claimed him. The clarity of his eyes and the lack of infection lifted her soul with gladness. Dusk shaded the bedchamber.
The boom of a cannon in the distance heralded the holiday season and reminded Alexandra that it was Christmas Eve. A snippet from a song ran through her thoughts. “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me.”
The only thing she wanted was for her true love to open his eyes and grin at her again. Fatigued from the strain of the past two days, she prepared for bed and snuggled against Derek. She needed the strength and warmth he emitted even while sleeping.

How about you?  Have you written a Christmas story or have a favorite Christmas story? I'd love to hear your recommendations -- I can never get enough of Christmas stories.  They help make the Christmas season last longer for me.


P.S.  You can find my response to the second topic in an earlier post, A Few of My Favorite...Christmas Stories.

Christmas Stories:

            I love them. I've never written one. I treat myself to them as they are a continuous portion of the holidays for me.
            Starting with Thanksgiving, when the lights go up all around. Every main street has lights. My friends and I tour neighborhoods one ‘date’ night in three towns to see the lights.
            Sounds. Laughter. Joy in giggles and oh’s of children. The sounds of a good fire. Music pours from every place with a speaker. My computer, my house, stores, friend’s homes. Oh, just give me a little country singing, some funny songs, and don’t forget those Mannheim Steamroller moments. I sing Christmas carols to myself as I drive to town.
            My birthday is on the twenty-third. Another holiday to celebrate. I do whatever I want to on my birthday. Our family didn't have much in money. We always celebrated birthdays with a present, a cake, and a day of doing whatever we wished—someone else did our chores. When I say as we wished, I mean that no one directed our activities.
The magic of scents of the Season—baking. Ovens dusty from lack of use get warmed up for Christmas. My smoke alarm is off the wall at the moment because I’m tired of everyone’s jokes about using it as a timer. It is really time to clean the sucker, but who has time now? Trees, oh, yum. The smell of Christmas trees everywhere. Dampness. The scent of it as you walk down the sidewalk.
Christmas packages—oh my! Ribbons and bows and yards of paper. I sometimes cluster bows to make a bigger one! Let them STACK! Part of my decorations for Christmas is a batch of permanent present boxes. They have lids and store other decorations when out of season. Right now they’re stacked in a spare chair in the living room over a throw of spangled and beaded cloth. Looks Opulent.
Lights. We don’t do a tree in our house, we do long lengths of lighted greenery and banners and glitter abounds. They top the bookcase, the china hutch, on a beam above the entrance to the kitchen—all different, all similar, all on timers. The flicker candles are all around and on timers too. At our house it is like a light symphony, the lamps come on at five and off at two AM. The candles come on at five and off at midnight. The garlands come on at five thirty and off at eight fifteen.  Except the flicker candles in my bedroom, they go on at eight and off at two AM.
Then there is the wrapping. I wrap while my husband reads me a story. He hates Christmas music, but he will read to me while I wrap.
Cards, those pesky things, they decorate a shelf on the bookcase. I have another holiday for me during the beginning of December. I go to a restaurant, or cafe, and I sit for the afternoon making out my Christmas cards. I have a small case that has everything in it, cards, paper, pens, cartoons for inserting, stamps, stickers, addresses, who got what last year. This holiday I spend eating pie, drinking coffee, talking to people who wonder by. I let go of everything that must be done and sit. Waitresses and their bosses are wonderful. They pamper and fetch. They watch my mess during bathroom breaks.  This year two marines came in and I got to buy them a meal—anonymously—so it was extra fun.
Movies. I have my favorite Christmas movie, Christmas in Connecticut, and I watch it every year! There used to be a lot of groaning about it, but now my husband enjoys it too.
The last holiday of the year—New Years!  A day of hope.
We don’t have family at the Holidays—or rarely. It is a dangerous time to be traveling, not to mention tiring. But we do see each other at other times during the year and hoot it up then.

While it is true, I haven’t written a Christmas story—it looks like I've written a dedication to the holiday season.  So, have yourselves a merry Christmas—however you determine it to be!
 Blessings, Cheer, and Joy to everyone!!

Christmas, Oh Christmas by J Vincent

The topic for December is
Have you ever written a Christmas book?  (or) What’s your favorite Christmas book?

I haven't written a Christmas book, but I have written a Christmas story--one that I shared several years ago on the blog.  It's entitled Santa's Gloved Hand.  It's a memory rather than a fictional tale but still vivid after more than fifty years.  Take a glance at it and share a memory to two from your childhood.

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My favorite Christmas books are/were Regency Christmas Anthologies.  Signet published many of these and they were always on my Christmas list.  Mary Balogh, Edith Layton, Barbara Metzger, Carla Kelly were a few of the authors than contributed to my enjoyment. Heartwarming stories of romance warm a cold winter night and I so enjoyed escaping into the Regency Christmas where there was always a happy ending..
I must have had over twenty in my collection before we moved.  Note I said, before--I gifted them to an assisted living center erroneously thinking I could get then as ebooks. Sadly these anthologies have fallen out of fashion.  You can still get Christmas anthologies but they are modern.

Wishing you the Merriest Christmas!  For you writers --may your books be published, your stories read. For readers --may you find the kind of books that carry you to another place and refresh your soul.

Christmas Books

Patricia Davids here wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a wonderful new year.
Christmas Books is the topic for our blog this month. Who doesn't love a great Christmas story. I know I do. However, liking them and writing them are two different kettles of eggnog. 
I happen to have two Christmas stories out this year, but I'm not overly fond of writing Christmas stories. Don't get me wrong, I love the season and the reason for the season, but adding the true spirit of Christmas to a romance can be difficult.
My current Christmas stories involve Amish characters. The Amish do very little to mark the holiday other than gather with family for a hearty dinner. In Amish homes there are no trees, no garland, no lights to mark the occasion. There isn't a special church service. It's all about reflecting on the birth of our Savior, not about gifts or shopping. I have to admit, that has a strong appeal. No shopping. 
The big event for the community is the Christmas pageant put on by the schools each year. Amish children spend weeks getting ready, writing plays and poems that present the true meaning of Christmas, practicing hymns and songs. It is the only time Amish children are encouraged to perform.

Amish traditions aside, people seem to love books set at Christmastime. Are you the same? Do you look for Christmas books this time of year? Does a good book put you in the Christmas spirit? Let me hear your thoughts on the subject.
Oh, and Merry Christmas.

Decisions, Decisions, What To Do With A Million Bucks

What would I buy if I had a million dollars? I have no idea. I suspect I would change my mind a dozen times over and still second-guess every decision. A million bucks is a lot of moo-la.

Like Penny, tithes and offerings to God comes first. If He sees fit to bless me with a bunch of money, I’m not going to take his cut. There are many worthwhile charities out there running on a wing and a prayer. I’ll do my part, so they can do theirs.

If I’m feeling altruistic, I’ll give some to each of my kids and set some back for the grand-kids too. I have a couple of friends who really need new cars. I’m sure they’d be happy to help with the spending.

If I’m feeling totally selfish, I’d buy me the wardrobe I've always wanted instead of the K-Mart specials I usually settle for. Ignoring all price tags, I’d start with shoes and work my way up from the inside out. Unfortunately, I don’t like to shop. This would be on my, ‘I have to do this if I want new clothes’ list.

If the responsibility bug is biting I’ll invest most of it, but that’s not much fun. In this day and age, I’m not sure I would trust the system anyway. One major catastrophe and poof, your money is gone.

Maybe I’ll buy me that house in the country with a babbling brook running merrily along. Fishing in the summer and snowed in over the winter. Being alone at this stage in my life kind of takes the fun out of this one. Maybe I should start by buying me a man? Nah, if I have to buy him, I don’t think I want him.

Being Scotch-Irish, maybe I’ll go visit the old country. But what’s the point of all that romantic scenery with no one to snuggle up to next to the peat fire? Going with my old maid sister doesn't sound the same. Don’t tell her I called her an Old Maid. She’s only two years my senior J

I've always wanted to explore our National Parks. With a million buckaroos, I could visit every one. Capital Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands and Arches are Utah alone. A tour of the Grand Canyon should be on everyone’s list.

All I have here are maybes , except for tithes and offerings. That’s a gimme. So, I guess the moral of this story is; I’ll do whatever I’m in the mood for. Can we say capricious, indecisive, or just avoiding some real soul searching here? When the time comes, notice I said when, then I’ll decide.

I might know a family fighting cancer with no insurance, or someone who lost their home in a natural disaster. Great wealth should be used for others. Not that you can’t spend some on yourself, but knowing you were able to help someone in desperate need far outweighs a trip to Scotland. I can go there in pictures. Without the financial help, some kids might grow up without their dad or others end up in a homeless shelter.

We never know the good we can do until we do it. So, when the time comes, I’ll know.

If I had a million dollars...(Melissa Robbins)

The blog topic reminded me of a song my friends and I would sing constantly in college, “If I Had a Million Dollars” by the Barenaked Ladies.  The band came up with silly things to buy with a million dollars, but in the end, they sing, “If I had a million dollars, I’d buy your love.”

I have love, so I don’t need to buy that.  ;0)  Ever the practical person, if I received a million dollars, I would probably invest it or just save it for kids’ college funds.  But this is a blog post!  You don’t want to read about that.  Boring! So here is my list of five things I would buy.

1. A small plane that my family would fit in comfortably, so I could fly them anywhere. Let’s throw in a pilot’s license, too.  I hear it’s not cheap. Flying coach? Thing of the past. 

2. Speaking of private jets, for some CRAZY reason, my husband and I received this big fancy brochure about flying around the world in a private jet through National Geographic Expeditions.  For a mere $75,000, you and your guest can fly in style around the southern part of the world with experts guiding you.  A normal 757 adjusted to fit 75 people instead of 200 in coach.  Talk about leg room!  Don’t forget the on board physician and chef!  Peru, Morocco, Tanzania, Tibet, China, Australia are just a few of the destinations.  Swim in the Great Barrier Reef?  Tour a vast wildlife sanctuary in Tanzania? Sign me up! Or just drop me off in Australia or New Zealand. 

3. That Around the World expedition sounds great, but no mention of Europe.  That’s where I would really like to go, England, Scottish Highlands, and Germany.  Stay in a haunted castle. Drag my husband to every WW2 memorial and sight I could find. Good times.

4. Clearly, I have travel on my brain. I would love to buy a cottage in the Colorado Rockies.  Somewhere near the slopes where my family can ski and then relax by a warm fire. 

5. If I still had some money leftover, a lovely conservatory would be a beautiful addition to my house.  I have always wanted one with metal and all glass.  A place filled with sunlight to write, read, and paint. 

Well, I’m broke, but well-traveled and I can rest my weary feet while I read in my new conservatory.  What about you?  What would you want if you had a million dollars?  

If I Had a Million Dollars ... (Penny Rader)

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5 Items You Would Buy with a Million Dollars.  That's our topic this month and I've been thinking all month about how I would use a million dollars.

After I tithed to the church and made a hefty donation to Lexi's LAMB Foundation, I would buy (not necessarily in this order):

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1.  A home so I never, ever have to deal with a landlady again.  Not a mansion. Just a nice place with at least 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms; a library, an office for my writing with cool shelving  units for my crochet supplies; a big kitchen for my hubby to cook in, a doggy door for Cougar (I have no clue why he has a cat name -- that was his name when we got him almost 15 years ago.); a bright, fun laundry room with a really cool red washer/dryer set; a self-mowing yard with lots of gorgeous, gnarly trees & a spectacular, spacious tree house; a garage with a spot just for my car so I never again have to scrape my windows before going to work.

2.  A super reliable car with a built-in GPS and cool safety features so I can see what's behind me when I back up, if anyone's in my blind spot, etc.  It'd be especially cool if it was able to drive itself.

3.  Homes or paid mortgages and vehicles for family members.

4.  The services of a professional organizer and housekeeper. Oh, and a cook for when my hubby is gone or wants a break from slaving over the stove.
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5.  A cruise to Alaska, complete with whale and dolphin watching, the aurora borealis, the glaciers & national parks, followed by visits to all the remaining states, a tour of Pete Nelson's tree houses, and leisurely trips to Scotland, Ireland, and England.


That's my five.  What's yours?

November Blessings and Curses

First, I must say that belonging to WARA is one of the best blessings! Thank you, every member.

Second, where is the grammar person when I want to enumerate and don’t know whether to use a comma or a colon or a semi-colon after the number position or a hyphen in semicolon or what?


Third. Romance and almost all other novel writing is about family relationships. Like November. Many people feel holidays and family gatherings are like demon spawn gatherings from Hell. Someone’s going to lose an ear and another will be cursed for ingratitude, philandering, inattention, age, you name it. And that’s a mild gathering. Then there are those who will bring family and friends together and ignore them to fend for themselves until they feel like holiday wallpaper—necessary to look at but useless.

Forth, oh, you think I forgot romance? Nope! Think of every romance book or novel you’ve ever read. In each you will find a goal. Families thrive on goals—usually continuance ones. In romance, the entire bundle of needs that forces us out of ourselves and into the company of others is inherent in our need to be with another human and hopefully attempt some warm and welcome kanoodling.  Our need to be welcomed, accepted, petted, and thought well of by another human being. At the holidays we hope it is all of our loved ones. One on one, we need that from our special someone.  And like the holidays, the answer to that is unknown. Perhaps our family thinks we hung the moon and don't need to tell us. Maybe the person who we need thinks we know what is in their heart. Maybe we do, but there is nothing wrong with really liking to hear it again!

Fifth: like holiday mealtime, tensions can run high between the guy next to the gravy and the person with the potatoes. Can’t they SEE our NEED? Can’t the object of the sparkle of interest in our eye SEE our NEED? Is their head down, fork filled, interest in what they’re doing needing replaced by attending to our need? Our need to be seen and our need fulfilled? Is the object of our affection too immersed in something other than our needs? Perhaps they need a friendly tap—to get their attention—like we would someone circling the kitchen looking for the correct cupboard the water glasses are in.

So as we count our blessings this month, let us realize that for some, family meetings are fraught with the curse of having to be brought out of ourselves and in the public arena of human failings, our own and others.  Let us think about everyone and forgive them, and ourselves, for being human in this time of emotional trial.  Let us appreciate all of the story, curse or blessing, of our families as the pageant of life unfolds before our very eyes.

PS: There's nothing wrong with telling someone you'll love them more if they help with....

A Milllion Dollars--Five Things upon Which to Spend It by J Vincent

A million dollars! What five things would I buy?  An easy blog, right?  Or not. There must be something wrong with me because big ticket items don’t immediately come to mind. Here’s what did:

First-Daily sessions with a physical therapist, a trainer, and a massage therapist to get me walking more easily and for a decent distance again.

Second--Pay off our loans and set aside college tuition/education funding for the grandkids.  I know, that’s two things but I wasn’t sure getting something for others counted.  The tuition would be the gift of peace of mind for me.

Third--Rare books and maps.  I love old books and period maps.  One of my most prized possessions is an 1806 Walking Map of London.  It’s set in nine parts on linen and folds up into a neat compact size with a case to hold it.  I also have an 1832 copy of Pierce Egan’s Book of Sports.  The only reason I could afford it was because the front cover was detached.  Egan wrote many books at the time of and about the regency in England and I’d love to get originals of all of them.

Fourth-- Travel.  Once I’m walking again six months in Great Britain, or maybe a year so I can visit all the places I’ve written about and to do research.  I also have several people to whom I owe an ale at the pub. This is the payment they requested when I asked a variety of people in England how I could thank them for research information they helped me find via the internet and email. This followed by a month in Australia and while we’re there, another month in New Zealand.  My dh and I should be able to do that in great style with private drivers and guides, Then I’d like to take my kids and grandkids to Hawaii. 

Fifth. --??

This really shouldn’t be this difficult!  But most of the things that come to mind are items for other people like that quarter million travel RV after which my husband lusts.  There are several big ticket items for my kid--a new stove and flooring for one; a bathroom remodel for another. All in all I'm lucky and happy without the million.  After all money can't buy health.   November is the month of Thanksgiving and I'm very thankful for all that I've been blessed with through the years.  Happy Thanksgiving to all.