Saturday, December 12, 2015

The MUST-HAVE Christmas Present

Happy Holidays!

We've come to my favorite holiday, Christmas. I love everything about it, even the jostling in stores for the perfect gift. I like the snow (not the shelving). I like all the lights and the music. I like the happy smiles on people's faces as they make eye contact instead of just passing by. I like all the Christmas cards spilling out of my mailbox as I open it each day.

As Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Years celebrations begin, remember when you were a kid and wanted the must-have toy of the season? [Note: I realize Hanukkah is over, but for the past several years it's occurred in December close to Christmas, so I wanted to include it here.)

For me the toy I had to have was called Mini-Brix. They were the precursor to Legos. I was about seven and I longed for them. You could build things with them just like you can with today's Legos. However, my father said it was a boy's toy and I was a girl. This was prior to the sexual revolution. On Christmas morning the mini-brik were not there. I got a doll and a tea set as all good little girls should want. I didn't grow up to be a great homemaker. I drink coffee more than tea. I also didn't become an architect or work at building anything. I've worked in many types of jobs, that we won't go into as this blog is about the must-have gift.

A few years ago the e-reader, specifically the Kindle was the gift of the season. Then the i's took over: iPod, iPhone, iPad, and now the Apple Watch of the Samsung phone.

What is the toy you want today? If you could get your must-have gift,
what would it be? You're never too old for the perfect holiday present. If I got to sit on Santa's lap and whisper in his ear what I want for Christmas, it wouldn't be anything tangible, no coat or that one (or more) of my books make the New York Times bestseller list (although I wouldn't refuse that). I want peace.


I used to think it was silly during the Miss American Pageant when the contestants said they wanted peace. But I understand now. And I agree with them.

This is probably why I choose to write romance. There is always a happily-ever-after, and the characters remind me of Superman. They stand for truth and justice. So as the year comes to a close, let us all
pray for our soldiers to come home safely, that the sons and daughters of our enemies lay down their weapons and return to their families, and for the world to work for peace.

When you begin to wine down from the aftermath of the holidays, when the family has begun to return to their homes, take a moment to relax with Summer Magic, a three-story anthology from authors, Lorraine Bartlett, Shirley Hailstock and Kelly McClymer. You'll learn the stories of three special guests who arrive at this beautiful inn overlooking the sea on Martha's Vineyard. AMAZON.COM NOOK APPLE KOBO

Sweet Dreams by Lorraine Bartlett: Serious life changes have pushed Paige and Alex Campbell to the brink of divorce. Still, they win a weekend at lovely Blythe Cove Manor and experience vivid dreams. Is there a chance this magical place inspires the nighttime fantasies that could help them fall in love again?
Forever Bound by Shirley Hailstock: What Ellie Sloan finds in the wall of her home sends her to Martha's Vineyard and irrevocably changes her life.

Honeymoon with a Ghost by Kelly McClymer: Wedding planners know that no wedding goes off without a hitch, but most don't expect the groom to vanish hours after the wedding. Emily Stevens heads for her honeymoon suite in Blythe Cover Manor alone, determined to find out who her husband really was.

Until next time, keep reading...

Move Over Julie Andrews - These are My Favorite Things

by Shirley Hailstock

I'm having a Christmas party.  Of course that means cleaning the house, at least the part that the guests will see.  So I'm vacuuming the dining room, when I start thinking about how I love seeing the lines the vacuum cleaner makes on the carpet.  And the idea for this blog comes to me.  This is proof of that common question writers get: where do ideas come from -- from the great and powerful and the mundane and necessary.
So, my first favorite thing is a clean carpet.  Mind you, I don't like being the cleaner.  I avoided the cleaning gene while I was still in the womb.  However, in order to get what I want, something I have to suck it up.  Writing and reading reference:  submitting a clean manuscript to your editor; providing a reader with wonderful experience devoid of typos and distractions that throw them out of the story.

The smell of fresh cut grass is another favorite. I like the smell all summer long, but that first cut of the year is like all the fragrance buds opened up and offered their scent to the wind.  I don't cut my own grass.  I have a service that whips through the process in record time.  Yet, that first cut welcomes the change from winter to spring. Writing and reading reference:  The writer has finally
birthed the baby and she's holding it in your arms, ready to allow someone, a stranger who plucks it off the shelf (real or virtual) to read her story.  It's going to be a new world as soon as she
lets it go.  Her feeling of fear increases ten-fold, until that first review comes in, until she can exhale and allow all the pent-up emotion out.  For readers, a new voice just entered the world and you're there to receive it.  With hope and admiration, you settle in your chair riveted to the pages, waiting for the end, for your ahhh moment as you reach the last page.  That's the first
smell of cut grass.
The heat on my face when opening an oven.  It's a flash of heat, but it's dripping with anticipation.  There's something good in there.  I can feel the heat of it.  At the first snow, I love to make
cinnamon rolls.  They remind me of home when I was a little girl.  We'd make them from scratch, eagerly waiting for them to finish cooking so we could open that oven door.  This brings me to a complementary favorite -- sticky hands.  We couldn't wait for the cinnamon rolls to cool down, so we'd ice and eat them, still hot from the oven, as the icing dripped down the corners of her mouths and onto our hands -- ala sticky hands.  Writing and reading reference:  It's a favorite book.  All writers have one.  Most won't tell you which one.  We don't want you to think there is a best
because the writer's  favorite may not be the reader's favorite.  What sticks to your hands may not stick to mine. But something will stick.  And you won't be able to put the book down.

SMILE-1_MORGUEFILE_3691233875457I love people who smile.  I find that smiling makes the day better.  It begins that way and continues.  This is not to say that life doesn't happen, that disappointments don't come, sometimes in droves, but putting on that happy face can make it feel a lot less irritating.  Long ago, I read something (probably in science class) about it taking more facial muscles to frown than to smile.  I was skinny then and thought smiling would be better.  I still think that and I also know that frowning uses more energy, but not enough to make you lose weight -- so smile.  You'll feel better.  Writing and reading reference:  Books make you laugh and cry.  They touch your emotions and introduce you to fictional family and friends.  They are people you can laugh with and most often, they make you smile. You may not know it, but they do the authors and readers have the same reaction.  Sometimes we're reluctant to let them go.  Readers want another story with their new-found friends.  Writers have new ideas, new directions to travel with the people they've brought to life.  Come on people, let's all get together for a group photo.  Say SMILE.
 I also include chocolate among my favorites (only about a dozen people in the world don't).  However, I'm a chocolate snob, a cheap snob if that's a consolation. I'm a Hershey girl.  I like milk chocolate.  I don't favor expensive chocolates.  When I was in San Francisco, a friend walked me around for an hour trying to find a very famous chocolate store, Ghirardelli.  I'd never heard of them.  (I can hear you gasping.)  I tried several different samples they had in the store, didn't like any of them. I've tried Cadbury Chocolate, Dove Chocolate, Whitman Samplers, Russell Stovers, even Godiva Chocolate (which always reminds me of a naked lady on a horse), and none of them appealed to me as much as a Hershey bar.  There are other favorites in the chocolate category that I adore; chocolate cake with chocolate icing, chocolate mousse, hot chocolate, chocolate milk, the list goes on.  Writing and reading reference: different books appeal to different people. Some like historical, some small town contemporaries, some Navy Seals, others FBI thrillers, there's something out there for everyone's taste.

could go on listing my favorite things, but Julie has come in and wagged her finger with the enough is enough gesture.  So, let's leave it with a favorite wine, a fireplace with a roaring fire, and good friends.
What are some of your favorite things?

As always, keep reading...