Tag Archive | Q&A

Christmas Countdown Blitz -Day 18

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One Winter Night by Heather Tullis

 
Day 18 CCB Cover

 
Jonah Owens thought moving to Echo Ridge to open his art gallery would solve all of his problems. The need to sell his grandma’s house adds an unexpected complication. It would be easier if his neighbor didn’t have all those farm animals.

Kaya Feidler’s family has owned their land for nearly a hundred years–long before the neighbors were there. There’s no way she’s giving up the animal therapy business she’s been struggling to make profitable. She gets a temp job helping Jonah in the gallery.

Spending time together is a recipe for romance, but can they overcome their own hangups to be more than friends?

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Day 18 CCB AuthorHeather Tullis has been reading romance for as long as she can remember and has been publishing in the genre since 2009. She has published more than twenty books.

When she’s not dreaming up new stories to write, or helping out with her community garden, she enjoys playing with her dogs and cat, cake decorating, trying new jewelry designs, inventing new ways to eat chocolate, and hanging out with her husband.

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Q&A With Heather Tullis:

1.  Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

I’m a small-town girl who loves writing sweet romance–even my mysteries have romance in them! When I’m not writing I and trying out new recipes, working in my garden, renovating my house, or getting sucked into someone else’s story.

2. What do you love most in the world?

Snuggling up with a great story and a cup of cocoa.

3. What inspired you to become an Author?

I’ve always had stories in my head, even when there wasn’t a book anywhere in sight. When I was going through a rough period in 2000, I decided to write one of them down and I haven’t been able to shake the desire to write for long since then.

4. What is your favorite Winter / Holiday tradition?

Spending time with family and friends and putting up the tree! Oh, and making really terrific food.

5. What is your trick for getting past writer’s block? And what advice do you have for other authors who are struggling to tell their story?

For me writer’s block usually means that I don’t know where the story is going, so I sit down and do some journaling about the characters and the story until things start to flow and I’m able to figure out where I was going wrong. Very occasionally it’s not about the storyline, but because my brain is legitimately pre-occupied with something in my real life and then sometimes you just have to put the story aside while you work through whatever is demanding all of your attention–just make sure that it’s a legitimate real-life problem and not an excuse to procrastinate that you’re using instead of putting the words on the page.

6. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it’s yours. What’s your story?

When I had been out of college for a few months and was still looking for a job, I took on a bunch of temp jobs, including a one-shift job rolling burritos at a frozen burrito factory. I was told the shift would last for 8-10 hours, or until the batch was done. I worked 14 hours that day and have had trouble eating frozen burritos ever since–and it’s been nearly twenty years.

 

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Christmas Countdown Blitz -Day 17

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The Billionaire’s Blue Christmas by Jennifer Griffith

 

He needs this job to honor his late wife.
She needs to complete her late fiancé’s bucket list to be free.

Day 17 CCB CoverFormer action-movie star Chet has counted the days since he lost his wife last New Year’s Eve almost a year ago. When he’s given a shot at starring in a reboot of her favorite TV show, he jumps at it. But there’s a catch: the producers won’t hire him unless he can prove he’s regained emotional stability—by bringing a steady girlfriend to his five auditions.

Which means: five mandatory dates for this bereft widower.

Social worker Holly lost her fiancé to war. With his good life snuffed out too soon, she feels compelled to finish his bucket list of unselfish deeds. But four years later, several remain, and they’re ridiculously impossible. Until she accomplishes her soldier’s dreams, she can’t even consider moving on with her life.

When they meet on the beach at Getaway Bay, what she doesn’t know is homeless-looking mourner Chet is actually Colt Winchester, screen star and fashion icon. What he doesn’t know is that he’s a means to an end.

When their walls start to crumble on their Christmas season dates, can these two find love again, or will they forever be chasing ghosts?”

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Day 17 CCB Author

 

Jennifer lives in Arizona where she writes escapist fiction she calls “Cotton Candy for the Soul.”

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Q&A With Jennifer Griffith:

1.  Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

I’m a wife, a mother, and I love a great book. I write sweet, escapist fiction I call “Cotton Candy for the Soul.”

2. What do you love most in the world?

Easy, my family. This will probably sound dull! But it’s so true. They’re the reason I do pretty much everything, even writing the fluffy, sweet romance novels I’m constantly trying to come up with. I’m a wife of a handsome, brilliant lawyer/judge, and we have these five amazing kids who delight and challenge us, and I’m just … all in when it comes to them.

3. What inspired you to become an Author?

My husband! I was a writer, majored in writing in college. My jobs out of college were all political writing in the U.S. Senate and in the U.S. House, answering letters, writing press releases, and such. But when I quit a day job to do an all-day-and-all-night job raising kids, I was getting a little brain dead. My husband suggested I write a novel. I thought, no way. I only write technical things. But he encouraged me. And so I began. It took me six years to complete my first novel, and he cheered me on, making sure I had the proper tools and at least a little time now and then to create and edit. He’s my biggest cheerleader, and now he helps me plot and rework stories. I am probably the luckiest writer there is, in that matter. Plus, everything I know about romance, I’ve learned from him.

4. What is your favorite Winter / Holiday tradition?

Ooooh, pie. Hands down. I’m part of a big, food-loving family on my husband’s side, and on Thanksgiving we get together and eat. But what I call the “pie count” is part of the fun. There’s just so much pie! Often, I’ll count pies and count people, and I’m often hoping for a greater than 1:1 pies:people ratio. We eat dinner on Thanksgiving, and then pie from morning to night the following day. And there has to be whipped cream. Lots of it. I married into a really fun family.

5. What is your trick for getting past writer’s block? And what advice do you have for other authors who are struggling to tell their story?

For me, if I know what motivates my character and what his/her biggest fear is, then I can get past the block. I find when I’m blocked it’s because I just don’t know my characters well enough. Once I know them, I can tell their stories.

6. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it’s yours. What’s your story?

Remember Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure? Well, the follow-up was Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, an inferior movie, in my opinion. However, its title perfectly mirrors my experience … with fake eyelashes.

You may shake your head in a mix of horror and pity. It’s raw, it’s real, and it’s got a lot of jumps in verb tense. (Sorries. Lots of sorries for that.) It’s the tragic history of me and my eyelashes, also known as The Great Lash-tastrophe.

In the late summer, before attending a couple of writing conferences, I decided I need fake eyelashes.

Not sure why I came to this conclusion, since my normal eyelashes are actually one of the features I am okay with on myself. Eyelashes and ankles! As for everything else in between? Well, let’s not talk about that.

Before I had allowed myself to give it too much thought, I’d texted my hairstylist and she’d slotted me in for the following morning at nine. No backing out now.

I go through the nearly two-hour process (which sucked away nearly a whole morning of writing time—a precious commodity since I have kids at home and mornings are my only chance to write) and come out with these holy cow look at her lashes.

If I’d been in a movie, they would have needed their own line in the credits.

I mean, did I like them? Heck, yeah. They looked amazing. I asked my stylist how much I owed her. When she told me, I kept it together, but inside I was falling off the tilted table. H-h-h-how much? And h-h-h-how often do I have to redo this? Oh, twice a month? Oh. Oh … okay.

The things we should research, people! The things!

So, I go through life with these awesome lashes. I don’t have to put on mascara. I don’t really even have to wear other makeup or even really do my hair, since they’re the only noticeable feature on my person. I. Am. LashLady.

Until…they begin to trickle out. My stylist warned me this would happen, which is why a fill is necessary after a couple of weeks. I hemmed and hawed about just caving and getting them filled, but we had a sudden household expense, and I realized that many dollars a month was just stupid when I have a kid in college and another teen about ready to need auto insurance.

Not happening.

So I allowed lash-attrition (lash-trition?) to occur. After another couple of weeks, only the Truly Glued lashes remained. The brave, the strong, the ones that could have doubled as the legs of a black widow spider—which is basically how my eyes looked now. Like I’d killed a few beetles and done some kind of ritual sacrifice involving my eyelids.

Something had to be done. But not something crazy-expensive, but what?

Walgreens drugstore to the rescue. Turns out they have an enormous selection of false eyelashes and glues—from subtle to LashLady made of “faux mink” (whatever that is. I grew up in the country with neighbors who raised mink, and I saw very little resemblance.) I choose something middle of the road, and what looks like a durable glue.

Maybe my first mistake (besides doing this in the first place) was not watching the YouTube how-to videos. Instead, I forged ahead. Who needs how-to videos when you’ve got common sense?

Ummm… Forty-five minutes later, I’m sitting on my countertop in my bathroom (a place I’ve never once sat in eighteen years of owning the house), with little tiny balls of black glue all over my clothes, the countertop, the sink, an unlucky hand-towel, the floor. Some even ventured as far as the tub.

Plus, my top and bottom eyelashes are glued together. I can’t separate them. I’ll be blind. Forever. And I’m late to take my daughter to school.

At this point, what could I even do? I peeled them off, but now my eyelids were red and swollen—plus they still had the beetle-legs on them from the earlier stylist lashes. At which point I discovered that my natural lashes that had been quite nice were bare stubs.

Disgust at my vanity gave me some kind of adrenaline-fueled superpower, because I reapplied glue, reapplied the sticker-lashes, and stomped out of my bathroom, swollen eyelids and all.

And they didn’t look too bad. Other than the blobs of grey glue mushing them together in some areas.

Let’s just say that today, I’m wearing simple mascara on my formerly quite-nice lashes. They may grow back. Fingers crossed. Something about this feels like one of those fairy tales with an obvious moral. However, shouldn’t I come away from this wiser?

Probably, but the truth is, I’m going to buy another set of the faux mink lashes later today. This will not defeat me.

 

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Christmas Countdown Blitz -Day 16

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Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett

 
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“Marley was dead to begin with . . . ”

These chillingly familiar words begin the classic Christmas tale of remorse and redemption in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

But, what about Jacob Marley?  And why hadn’t he been given the same final chance of redemption as Ebenezer Scrooge?

Or had he?

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Day 16 CCB Author

 

R. William (Bill) Bennett is the author of Jacob T. Marley, The Christmas Gift, and a new Christmas novel being published by a major publisher for Christmas, 2019

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Q&A With R. William Bennett:

1.  Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

I love stories that move the human spirit, that wake us up to realizing our gifts and reaching out to do something for others.   I love hearing them, I love sharing them.

2. What do you love most in the world?

After my family and my faith, being on the water.  Or in the mountains.  Or the  forest.  Or in the yard with the dog.

3. What inspired you to become an Author?

I have always loved telling stories of all kinds.  When I was in sixth grade, an author came to our class (Lester Del Rey) and I found out someone would actually pay you to tell stories!

4. What is your favorite Winter / Holiday tradition?

Cuddling with the growing family, watching “Its A Wonderful Life.”

5. What is your trick for getting past writer’s block? And what advice do you have for other authors who are struggling to tell their story?

For writer’s block, my only solution, but it works every time, is get away from your desk and do something physical that will occupy your mind.   Not just push-ups or toe-touches.  Go for a half hour run, or a long hike, or walk the dog for an hour, and while you are doing it, think about anything but your story.  As far as advice, its trite, but its true: Tell the story that’s in you.  That does not mean that you shouldn’t have someone else edit and consider their suggestions.  But if you feel it, write it.

6. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it’s yours. What’s your story?

Recently, my nephew died a tragic death.  Beset with drug and other problems, his short life ended after only twenty-six years.  I was asked to speak at his funeral and while I accepted, I was completely perplexed about anything to say other then ‘don’t be like him.’  In preparing, I read a story of man who had a sister with a host of life problems.  In sitting with her in her final hours, he said he could only see her in terms of her trials.  At that moment, he received a divine rebuke, allowing him to see what she had accomplished in spite of her trials. His appreciation for who she was starting changing immediately.   He said he felt he was being asked by Deity, “Can’t you see that everyone around you is a sacred being?”

I started making a list of my nephew’s qualities, which started slow, but began to grow.  I went from feeling his life had no redeeming value, to acknowledging that he had some qualities, to realizing his list of positive character traits was long, and stronger in many ways than mine, to eventually seeing him as a magnificent human being.  One who struggled terribly and eventually lost the  battle to human frailties, but at the same time, exemplified some of the most important human characteristics – love, forgiveness, patience, imagination, and more.  It then struck me how it might change my life to try to see the magnificence in everyone, and let them know I do before I lose the chance.

We miss my nephew terribly, but he was, in the end, successful in leaving a positive legacy, something all of us would hope for at end of our own lives, long or short.

 

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Christmas Countdown Blitz -Day 15

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Christmas Kisses

by Stacy Lynn Carroll, Tara C. Allred, Stephanie Connelley Worlton and Ali M. Cross

 
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Are you ready to fall in love?

Take the chill out of winter with four new multi-genre romances from best-selling and award-winning authors Tara C. Allred, Stacy Lynn Carroll, Ali M. Cross, and Stephanie Connelley Worlton.

From heart-warming traditions to heart-pounding suspense, this cozy collection of toe-tingling first kisses set in Utah’s North Pole (aka Bear Lake) will leave you feeling cheerful and bright.

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Day 15 CCB Author StephanieStephanie Worlton is an author, designer, gabber, and sugar addict! She was raised in the suburbs of Salt Lake City where she developed a passion for the creation of space, color, and design. Her love of design drove her to pursue a degree in architecture. Her love of family pulled her home to be a mom.  She enjoys hanging out with her family, reading, writing, making massive project lists, doing remodeling and building projects, playing in the dirt, and snuggling with her dogs. She collects power tools, camera equipment, shoes (though barefoot is always best!), and books.

Stephanie Connelley Worlton

 

 

Day 15 CCB Author AliAli Cross, the award-winning author of the Desolation Series, has always had a flare for the dramatic. As a child she organized backyard performances of classic plays and musicals and hosted tea parties for invisible friends and pets dressed in doll clothes. Her teens were a haze of boys, drama (of the real life variety), and music. So it really didn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the girl her family called a dreamer, ended up writing drama—with angels, demons, and other supernatural creatures thrown in for fun.

After university, Ali traveled from the Great White North to the Utah desert for love and now entertains her devoted husband, almost-grown twin sons and adorable yorkies with her wacky song renditions and random movie lines. As the only female in the house she considers this her right and her duty.

Never one to conform to expectations, Ali enjoys writing in multiple genres:

Ali Cross books for young adult paranormal romance; Ali Banks Cross books for middle grade adventures; and Ali M. Cross for inspirational romance. She promises to entertain you no matter which of her books you pick up.

Ali M. Cross

 

Day 15 CCB Author TaraTara C. Allred

Award-winning Author

I had lots of imaginary friends when I was five years old, and I guess you could say some of those friends never left me. In fact along the way, I picked up some more imaginary friends who have had lots to say.

I love watching stories unfold. And some of those stories seem worth sharing with you.

So, I have written a few books. And have several more in the works.

Meanwhile, some of my books have won some awards. And even more importantly, my books have made friends with some wonderful and supportive readers. I absolutely love it when a reader connects with one of my stories.

Tara C. Allred

 

Day 15 CCB Author StacyStacy Lynn Carroll has always loved telling stories. She started out at Utah State University where she pursued a degree in English, learned how to western swing, and watched as many of her fellow students became ‘True Aggies’.  She then finished her BA at the University of Utah where she got an emphasis in creative writing.

After college she worked as an administrative assistant, where she continued to write stories for the amusement of her co-workers. When her first daughter was born, and with the encouragement of a fortune cookie, she quit her job and became a full-time mommy and writer.

Eight books and four small kids later, Stacy has truly learned the necessary skills of balance and time management. Dr. Pepper and chocolate also help. She and her husband live in Utah with their four children and three dogs. Bear Lake is her favorite place to write.

Stacy Lynn Carroll

 

Snippet from Miss Scrooge by Tara C. Allred:

         Caroline offered him a half smile. “I didn’t know that about you.”
         “What? That I love this holiday? Who doesn’t? The lights, the foods, the music, the weather, just the feeling in the air. You can’t not be happy this time of year. I love it!”
         He turned into the mall’s outdoor parking area and, after finding a spot, he raised his hand as she reached for her door. “Hold on.” He jumped out of the Explorer and ran around to the passenger door to open it for her.
         “You know,” he said, while taking her hand, “snow’s in the forecast.” As they walked through the parking lot, he released a laugh. “Wouldn’t that be awesome? Falling snow, on the first day of the Christmas season, right here while we’re watching the world around us light up?”
         “No.” Caroline paused her steps, only to see a look of concern cover Christopher’s face as he stopped next to her. Quickly, she softened her tone, “No,” she said firmly. “I mean you really love Christmas, much more than the average person.”
         “I don’t know.” He shrugged, as he started their walk again. “If you mean planning to have my own light show outside my house once I’m married with a family, of course. I mean, I’m thinking two-hundred strands of lights, all synced to Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Maybe a Frosty on the lawn, or even better yet, a light-up Rudolph that sings along with the music. Passing cars could tune in on their radio. If counting down since June 25 to Christmas is average, I’m totally your average guy for this time of year.”

 
Q&A With Tara C Allred:

1.  Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

I love watching stories unfold. So, I have written a some books. My books have won some awards, and even more importantly, my books have made friends with some wonderful and supportive readers. I absolutely love it when a reader connects with one of my stories.

2. What do you love most in the world?

PEACE

3. What inspired you to become an Author?

I loved to read since I was four years old. When I was five, my mom signed her kids up for a book-making workshop at the library. At the time, all I knew was I was about to learn how books were made. I was beyond excited for the magic behind their creation to be revealed. I clearly remembering descending the library stairs, peering down to discover the truth, and being shocked to see it was people. People made books! So, I was going to make books too.

Of course, the workshop was really about binding your own books. But I took home my little bound book with its blank pages and immediately began writing my first story.

4. What is your favorite Winter / Holiday tradition?

Hanging the special ornament of the year on the tree that is tied in with one special adventure we as a family have had that year.

5. What is your trick for getting past writer’s block? And what advice do you have for other authors who are struggling to tell their story?

My books are character-driven. So, if I am stuck, it usually is because my characters aren’t fully developed. By going back and revisiting my characters and fleshing them out more, with deeper motives, goals, and conflicts (both internal and external), that helps pull me out of writer’s block.

Advice for other authors struggling to tell their story – examine your conflict. How can you make your conflict richer? What greater opposition can pull at your character to bring more emotion and a greater connection for your reader?!

6. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it’s yours. What’s your story?

So, the rest of the story about wanting to become an author…

When I was five, I learned people write books, so I wanted to write books. And from then on, each year, I would write a book.

Then in fifth grade, we all had an assignment in school to write a book, and mine ended up being the longest in the entire class, significantly. It was then I determined that I wanted to be an author and publish my books someday.

Everyone in school believed me, that I would be an author, because my book was longer than anyone else. Even the teacher wrote in my elementary yearbook “You will be a great author.” I laugh at this now, if only length was the determinant for being a respectable and great author – lol!

 

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Christmas Countdown Blitz -Day 14

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Love On A Limb by Laurie Lewis

 
day 14 coverMatthew Grayken is young, successful, and dying, which is why he’s about to propose to a total stranger. He isn’t interested in love. He needs a caregiver, a companion, and someone to be his legal voice when he can no longer speak for himself.

Lonely, compassionate nurse Mikaela Compton is intrigued by Matt Grayken’s tender request, but when their friendly marriage turns into love, she rejects the inevitability of Matt’s death and prays for a miracle instead.

Mikaela succeeds in reigniting Matt’s will to fight, but his body is losing the battle, and her determination to save him causes her to betray the fundamental promise she made him–to help him die peaceably.

Their last hope at saving Matt’s life will require a sacrifice from each of them, and force them to decide how far out on a limb they’re willing to go for love.

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day 14 authorLaurie (L.C.) Lewis will always be a Marylander at heart—a weather-whining lover of crabs, American history, and the sea. She admits to being craft-challenged, particularly lethal with a glue gun, and a devotee of sappy movies. Her ninth published novel, her first romance novella, Sweet Water, was inspired by a visit to Oregon’s magnificent coastline, and time spent with Mother Eugenie, upon whom the character Mother Thomasine is based.

Laurie’s women’s fiction novels include The Dragons of Alsace Farm (2016), Awakening Avery (2010), and Unspoken (2004), written as Laurie Lewis.

Using the pen name L.C. Lewis, she wrote the five volumes of her award-winning FREE MEN and DREAMERS historical fiction series, set against the backdrop of the War of 1812: Dark Sky at Dawn (2007), Twilight’s Last Gleaming (2008), Dawn’s Early Light (2009), Oh, Say Can You See? (2010), and In God is Our Trust, (2011).

She is currently completing a political suspense novel planned for a summer 2017 release, a re -release of a romantic comedy, and she’s working on another historical fiction novel for a 2018 release. She loves to hear from readers.

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Q&A With Laurie Lewis:

1.  What is your favorite book that is not yours?

From  Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon. It’s a difficult, brilliant book.

2. Do you write in multiple genres? Which genre is your favorite to write?

Yes. I love the challenge of writing emotional but clean romance but I do love the research of historical fiction.

3. How young were you when you started writing?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. When I was a kid, I wrote episodes of my favorite TV shows, casting me playing opposite my favorite teen idols like Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy.

4. If you could meet any author, past or present, who would it be and why?

I’d love to sit down with Nicholas Sparks. Anyone with that many bestsellers would make a great mentor.

5. How long does it take you to write a book, and what was your fastest book to write?

I’m slow. I usually plan for two novels a year, but historical fiction novels take a full year at least because of the research. I’ve been working on a WWII novel for over a year because the research requires live interviews with the main character–an 88-year-old French WWII survivor who survived the Nazi invasion of her small town.

 

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Christmas Countdown Blitz -Day 13

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The Gift of a Child by Donna K. Weaver

 
Day 13 CCB Cover

 
Recently widowed Rae Cavanaugh just survived the worst birthday of her life. She and her two young children must now face a holiday season filled with so many reminders of what they’ve lost.

But when a coworker who’s raising his young nephew moves next door, Rae discovers that the support of a good friend, and the gift of a child, can bring back some of the joy of the season.

**A Novelette**

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Day 13 CBB Author

 
Award-winning author, wife, mother, grandmother, Harry Potter geek, Army veteran, karate black belt, and online gamer girl.

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Q&A With Donna K. Weaver:

1.  Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

I’m a person who loves to see the good in people and firmly believes the world should be a better place because someone has lived.

2. What do you love most in the world?

Outside of religion, my family.

3. What inspired you to become an Author?

I’ve always had stories running through my head since I was a little girl. I didn’t try putting any of them on paper–for real anyway–until my family was raised.

4. What is your favorite Winter / Holiday tradition?

Doing things together with the kids when they were young. We’d decorate the house (a lot) one week, and the tree the next week. We’d spend time baking goodies and then taking them around to friends and neighbors while caroling to them. We also used to pick a family in need (of love as well as stuff) and do the Twelve Days of Christmas as a ding-dong-ditch.

5. What is your trick for getting past writer’s block? And what advice do you have for other authors who are struggling to tell their story?

Work on something else for a while. Or, if I’m pressed for time, it can be fun to write something where the characters do something ridiculous that you’d never include in the story. It can be funny and lighten things up and free the muse.

6. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it’s yours. What’s your story?

This book, The Gift of a Child, is very much a part of me. While it’s only inspired by real events, I really did:
1. Lose my first husband when I was 26
2. Have 2 young children to raise
3. Experience a dismal birthday that just happened to fall on the 2-month anniversary of my husband’s death
4. Have a son who did what Preston did.

There are hints of a possible romance in this story, and there will be a full-length novel to follow. I’m working on it right now, as a matter of fact. The romance is totally fiction. For me, that happened a few years later.

 

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Christmas Countdown Blitz -Day 12

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The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson

Day 12 CCB CoverAward-winning author Eva Marie Everson wraps up a Christmas story of hope, love, and forgiveness just in time for the holidays. 

The Ornament Keeper, a contemporary Christmas novella, features Felicia and Jackson Morgan who are spending their first Christmas apart after twenty years of marriage. But a lifetime of gifted ornaments helps Felicia piece together the story of their marriage and the one mistake of unforgiveness she made before they said, “I do.” 

Can these memory-filled ornaments reunite this family before Christmas? Only time will tell.

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Day 12 CCB AuthorEva Marie Everson is the bestselling, multiple award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction. She is the president of Word Weavers International and the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference and the North Georgia Christian Writers Conference.

Eva Marie is a popular speaker at writers conferences and women’s groups across the United States.

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Q&A With Eva Marie Everson:

1.  Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

 I’m southern born and bred and proud of it. I live in Florida and have since 1993 (I say you have to go north to get south of here). I am the president of Word Weavers International, director of two conferences, managing editor of Firefly Southern Fiction. I have nearly 40 books in print. But what I’m proudest of is my family–my husband and kids and grandkids. And our dog. I love traveling to new places (well, I hate traveling, but love being there). I’m a serious coffee consumer and enjoy hiking.
 

2. What do you love most in the world?

Besides God–my family.

3. What inspired you to become an Author?

When I was about 12 I read a really good book.

4. What is your favorite Winter / Holiday tradition?

That’s hard. There are several: Putting up the trees and other decorations. Going to church services and singing Christmas songs. I also treasure going “back home” for the Christmas Eve service in my home church.

5. What is your trick for getting past writer’s block? And what advice do you have for other authors who are struggling to tell their story?

Just write. My most common advice is “vomit it up now … clean it up later.” When I get stuck, I usually read a good book or watch a good movie. Within minutes I’m back at it!

6. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it’s yours. What’s your story?

My mother had three things on her bucket list–going to Disney World was one of them. I lived in Orlando for quite a few years before she told me and then, shortly after, I won two all-day/all-parks passes. I called her immediately and said, “Make plans to come down. I’ve got passes for us to go to Disney!”
 
We made plans for her to come a few months later, in October, when the weather here wouldn’t be so miserable. We also planned to go on a weekday when the parks were less crowded. I asked her which park she wanted to visit first; she chose Hollywood Studios. We left early that morning, arriving just as the park opened.
 
“Let’s head straight for the back of the park,” I told her. “Most people start at the front, but if we go straight to the back and work our way forward, we’ll miss a lot of the crowds.”
 
Mother agreed. Our first stop was watching an outdoor display of how stunt cars work in films. Mother, at 72, sat up like a 5-year-old. She clapped and cheered and, after one of the stunts, yelled, “Do it again!” We left there and happened up on a parade. Again, Mother clapped, her smile broad. She watched the dancers; I watched her childlike spirit coming through.
 
We spent the entire day at Hollywood Studios, laughing and giggling like children. Mother especially enjoyed the production of Beauty and the Beast, which was the only thing we “waited” on. But, as Mother declared, “It was worth every minute of the wait.”
 
We ate a delectable lunch around noon and, around 4:00, we stopped for a slice of cake and a cup of coffee at The Brown Derby. There, I told her about the time I ate lunch at The Brown Derby in the real Hollywood, California. What I remember most about that time was the talking. The laughing. The heading out to do it all again.
 
We never went to another park. We decided to, instead, enjoy every minute we had there. No rushing. Just being. We didn’t arrive back to my home until late … late … late that night. We were exhausted, happy, and Mother had a photo of herself with Fantasia Mickey. I don’t know which one of them was cuter.
 
Mother still had two other bucket list items: flying in a plane and riding a horse. I took care of the first and was planning other for her 75th birthday, which was in November 2010. But in May of that year, as she and I prepared for a writers conference banquet, Mother collapsed in my arms and, a week later, she moved from this world to her new address with Jesus.
 
I’ll always treasure that day with my mother at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. When I miss her most, I take myself back to that day and remember her laughter. I picture her sitting so straight and tall, watching the stunt cars and clapping. I see her “dancing” to the music of the parades. I remember her delight at meeting Mickey.
 
No regrets.

 

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Christmas Countdown Blitz -Day 11

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Monte’s Misfits — Christmas Joy for Everyone!

by C. Cady Fowler, Peggy Cady Kendall, Susan Cady Allred & C.G. Cady Naegle

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! And in the Cady household that means kicking your creativity into high gear. 

Day 11 CCB CoverWhat would you do if you had ten children and no money for Christmas? And what exactly does Christmas look like when ten sets of hands are poised, ready to rip open their Christmas gifts – is it chaos, or do Monte and Barbara make us sit quietly, tormenting us as we watch each and every present opened by our siblings? What about decorations? Traditions? Jokes? Christmas trees and more? The questions and possibilities are endless, and you never know what the answer may be in the Cady home. 

Follow our family as we recount some of our favorite, least-favorite, and downright bizarre stories of parenting and growing up in a family with ten siblings! We’ll add a touch of nostalgia by focusing entirely on our favorite holiday of the year: CHRISTMAS!

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The Crazy Cady Sisters have known each other all their lives. With 179 years of accumulated life-experience, we are well versed in Cady-isms.

Between the four of us, we’ve experienced:

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  • 18 businesses ventures
  • 22 children acquired in a variety of ways (marriage, birth, adoption, etc)
  • 5 1/2 grandchildren
  • Lived in 5 different states
  • One of us went to college to be a concert pianist.
  • One of us thought about going to college to be a concert pianist.
  • One of us is an addictions counselor.
  • One of us is addicted to diet soda.
  • Volunteer for 8+ organizations
  • 1 lived above a mortuary
  • 1 was chased by a K-9 unit while toilet papering.
  • 3 of us were homeless for 2.5 months while we toured the United States.
  • 1 of us can say the Pledge of Allegiance in three different languages.
  • We sold rocks door to door.
  • 1 used to transcribe the newspaper into the computer when she got bored.
  • Are joint owners of WhodunnitMysteries.com  

In March, 2017 we decided to band together to form Crazy Cady Sisters to co-author a hilariously heart-warming non-fiction story about parenting, child-rearing, and growing up in a family with ten children.

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Q&A With Chris:

1.  Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

Blonde hair and blue eyes – all the rest is subject to change.

 
2. What do you love most in the world?

My family, present and extended through history.

 
3. What inspired you to become an Author?

The desire to pass my story to my children.

 
4. What is your favorite Winter / Holiday tradition?

Opening a present on Christmas Eve!

 
5. What is your trick for getting past writer’s block? And what advice do you have for other authors who are struggling to tell their story?

Set a timer and just write for a set amount of time – if you feel like writing more, great. But at least write a little bit. And don’t worry if what you write is good or not. That’s what the editing process is for!

 
6. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it’s yours. What’s your story?

20+ years ago I had lost a son to Leukemia, and then several years later gave birth to a daughter with Spina Bifida. I was upset, overwhelmed, and feeling picked on by life. 
During one of my visits my doctor told me that he has seen several times that families with one child with disabilities will have a second child also. He felt it was because they had been prepared and would be able to handle those challenges. 
I took that as a compliment of how strong I am. And I have proven to myself that I can do hard things, including raising children with disabilities.

 

Q&A With Susan:

1.  Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

I’m a mother of four who works hard, plays hard, loves fiercely, and laughs raucously.

 
2. What do you love most in the world?

The goodness of humanity.  It’s easy to put my head down and focus on only the bad around me, but when I look up, notice the generosity of those around us – not only monetarily, but emotionally and spiritually, I realize there is hope for this world and there is still more good than bad. Then I try to go out and add a little bit to the light whenever I can.

 
3. What inspired you to become an Author?

Ha!  Funny story.  So, about six years ago (actually EXACTLY six years ago, because it was NaNoWriMo), my younger sister (who is an English teacher at a couple nearby Universities) emailed me.  She told me about NaNoWriMo and said she wanted to give it a try. She knew writing a book was on my bucket list, and suggested we do NaNoWriMo together. I agreed, having no idea how hard NaNoWriMo would be.
 
Day 1:  
Patty:  I wrote 137 words.  How did you do?
Me: 47.
Day 2:
Me: I’m up to 200 words. How did you do?
Patty: I’m still at 137.
Day 3:
Me: I’m up to 517 words! How are you doing?
Patty:  137. I don’t think I’m going to do this.  Good luck with your story.
 
By then, I was hooked.  I had my story in my head and I was going to write it!  I did. I wrote my 50K words in one month, and had three other story ideas to boot! The rest is history, I guess.  I’ve completed 6 novels, 1 novella, co-wrote the 4 novellas with my sisters, and 1 flash fiction. 

 
4. What is your favorite Winter / Holiday tradition?

My favorite winter/holiday tradition is apple cider.  My dad used to mull hot apple cider every Thanksgiving and Christmas.  He’d pull out the crock pot, dump a few gallons of apple cider into the pot, then dump in cloves and cinnamon sticks.  The cider would sit for two days, as family members dipped into it during the weekend, and Dad would refill the pot as necessary.  The cider toward the bottom of the pot made your toes curl at times, but I loved it. Now, every time I smell hot cinnamony apple cider, I’m reminded of warm hugs, sage cornbread dressing, 5,000-piece puzzles, crackling fires, laugher at all hours of the night, and the giddy anticipating I felt every night as I nodded off on Christmas Eve.

 
5. What is your trick for getting past writer’s block? And what advice do you have for other authors who are struggling to tell their story?

Believe it or not, the best way for me to break my writer’s block is to get on the treadmill.  If you’ve ever seen me, you’d know I do NOT spend enough time on the treadmill. I tend to have too many stories in my mind at one time. Right now I’m working on three stories simultaneously. I struggle with staying focused on one story. 
My advice for people struggling to tell their story is to remember that YOUR story matters.  It doesn’t matter if you are telling the same story as the person next to you. Your perspective means that your story will be different.  In one of Monte’s Misfits books, all four of us told a story about TPing (toilet papering). It’s TPing. You throw toilet paper into people’s trees.  How different can the stories be, right? Wrong. Each was written from a different perspective. And each enhanced the other. It’s one of my favorite chapters. YOUR story, YOUR perspective matters.  Tell the story. Someone is waiting to read it! 

 
6. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it’s yours. What’s your story?

Hmm. My favorite story is how my husband and I met. We were at a church retreat for young adults our age. 
I was only eighteen with long blonde hair, considerably skinnier, and fresh off a nasty break-up. He was twenty-three, tall (as in 6’6”), dark hair, and handsome as all get out.  He walked into a room and people gravitated toward him. Myself included. I often caught myself following his movements. 
We talked a few times as he made the rounds from group to group, but not much happened. Then, on the last night, there was a dance. I was sitting on the kitchen counter next to the forty-seven-gallon punch bowl (only a slight exaggeration) when he found me and asked me to dance.  My adrenaline spiked, butterflies fluttered, and I stammered, “Sh-sure.” 
I put my hands on the counter to jump to the ground and knocked the giant punch bowl filled with fruit punch all over the kitchen floor behind me.  I’m pretty sure my face turned the same shade of red. I gasped, then sighed, and said, “And that’s why they call me Grace.” 
Three days later we were engaged.  Two and a half months later we were married. It’s been one adventure after another ever since.

 

Q&A With Grace:

1.  Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

The youngest of ten kids means that I am constantly trying to play catch up.

 
2. What inspired you to become an Author?

My Dad was always writing mystery games growing up, and he encouraged me in my writing. 

 
3. What is your favorite Winter / Holiday tradition?

Christmas Caroling, hands down.  I borrow about 20 crockpots from friends, invite all my friends within a 100-mile radius, and drink cocoa and cider with all my friends and go caroling around the neighborhood.

 

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Christmas Countdown Blitz -Day 10

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Christmas on a Mission by Hannah R. Conway

Day 10 CCB CoverAudria Rylatt is the school system’s liaison for homeless students. She strives to make Christmas bright for hundreds, while the season brings only heartache after her fiancé was killed in combat nearly two years ago. So when her family decides to play matchmaker, she is less than thrilled. To make matters worse, they’ve invited a soldier friend of her deceased fiancé to the family cabin for the holiday.

But she’s surprised to find this soldier, Quinton Nolan, standing at the door of heart. Faced with painful memories, the despair Christmas brings her, and the fear to love again, Audria is in desperate need of a Christmas miracle. Or at least some of the hope Christmas seems to offer so many. Can she embrace a new mission? If so, Christmas may stand to deliver a lifetime of magical memories.
  
“Christmas on a Mission” is a delightful story of hope, life, love, and second chances, filled with all the joy and cheer Christmas brings.”

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Day 10 CCB AuthorHannah Conway is a military wife, mother of two, middle school teacher, best-selling author, and popular speaker.

Her novels are a deployment experience of their own, threaded with faith, and filled with twists.

Hannah is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and My book Therapy. 

She and her family live in Tennessee.

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Q&A With Hannah R. Conway:

1.  Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

I’m high energy. A go-getter, a dreamer. Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew, but have learned to ask others for help and trust in their abilities. Definitely optimistic, loyal almost to a fault, and have this irritating need to understand everything, and see things from all aspects.

2. What do you love most in the world?

My initial response is my family. As I think on it, it’s more like I love being in their presence. When we’re sitting at dinner, or playing a board game. I love watching their faces, their smiles, hearing their voice and listening to them share about their day.

3. What inspired you to become an Author?

The thrill of creating is compelling, and I felt that tug from a very young age. First grade…so around the age of six or seven. I began drawing and writing, telling and making up stories for fun.

4. What is your favorite Winter / Holiday tradition?

Our family really enjoys going to our Church’s Christmas Eve Candle Light Service every year. It’s a beautiful experience.

5. What is your trick for getting past writer’s block? And what advice do you have for other authors who are struggling to tell their story?

Writer’s block is no fun, but I find if I sit down and just begin typing what’s on my mind, soon the words start flowing. My advice: sit and write what’s on your mind.

6. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it’s yours. What’s your story?

I’ll share a sweet memory.
            I grew up in Kentucky on a handful of acres outside of the quaintest and most charming little town. When our barn wasn’t filled with tobacco, my brother and I transformed it into the most magical of playing places. It became a mansion, a racetrack, arena, jungle, Gotham city, and on some occasions, a theater.
            When the light was just right, streaming rays of sunshine would shine through the barn slats and create a lovely ambiance fit for any theater performer—such as I. My child voice was lovely—or so I thought. The equivalent of any Disney Princess. So I danced and twirled, my bare feet pounding on the dirt floor of the barn. My voice was loud, hands raised, eyes closed, and I would sing until my throat gave out. When my songs had finished, I’d bow to my make-believe crowd and hurry back to the house for supper.
            Now I’m grown and a mother to a singing, twirling, dancing little girl. She captures my attention, and I’m in awe of her innocence, and purity—how she truly is this wonderful creation, and how lucky I am to be her mother.
 

 

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Christmas Countdown Blitz -Day 9

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Max’s Christmas Adventure & Max’s Midnight Adventure
by Wendy Leighton-Porter

 
Day 9 CCB Cover 1Max’s Christmas Adventure
Book 2

A second solo adventure awaits Max the time-travelling Tonkinese cat in this Christmas short story.

Invited to accompany a well-known figure on a whirlwind trip into the past, he sets off on a mission to search for something very precious to his owners Jemima and Joe Lancelot – their missing parents.

The hunt reveals tantalising clues to this mystery and ends with a special surprise for the twins.

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Day 9 CCB Cover 2Max’s Midnight Adventure
Book 3

Max the talking Tonkinese cat has a third solo adventure in this seasonal short story.

What happens when the feline hero is trapped in the attic one night?

Will he escape the clutches of the Christmas fairy, a regiment of soldiers and three obstreperous French hens in time to enjoy a holiday with his family?

One thing’s for sure, the Twelve Days of Christmas will never seem quite the same again…

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Day 9 CCB AuthorDividing my time between homes in South-West France and Abu Dhabi, I live with my husband and our beautiful Tonkinese cat. I spent 20 years as a teacher of French, Latin and Classical studies, before a change of career led me to writing books for children instead.

Shadows from the Past is series of time-travel adventures, featuring 3 children and a rather special Tonkinese cat by the name of Max. I’m currently working on the tenth book in the series, The Shadow of the Witchfinder. Max also has a few solo adventures of his own to accompany the series.

As I take my young readers on a magical mystery tour through the past, I’m hoping that my love of history, myth and legend will rub off on them too.

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Q&A With Wendy Leighton-Porter:

1.  Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

After almost 20 years of teaching of French, Latin and Classical studies in the UK, a change of career led me to writing children’s fiction. A Francophile, with a home in France, I’m currently living in Abu Dhabi with my husband and our Tonkinese cat.

2. What do you love most in the world?

As the question begins with “What?” rather than “Who?”, I think I can safely get away without mentioning my husband here! Everyone who knows me will confirm that I’m a cat lover, but my heart really lies with the Tonkinese breed. I adore them and would happily confess to being a Tonkaholic! A cross between Siamese and Burmese, they are the most delightful cats. I am, of course, speaking from experience – my first Tonk, Bertie (aka Max, the feline hero of my stories), is sadly no longer with us, but his sister is still going strong at almost eighteen years old.

3. What inspired you to become an Author?

I’d always wanted to write but, with a busy teaching career, I never seemed to find enough time. When I stopped teaching I found myself in the enviable position of having plenty of spare time and realised that I could now set off along a new career path. Writing for children seemed the logical step after so many years spent in the classroom and, ever the teacher, I hope that my books are a little bit educational as well as being fun.

4. What is your favorite Winter / Holiday tradition?

I love the Christmas tree, with its twinkling fairy lights. I think it takes me back to my childhood and my early memories of the magic of Christmas. However, I’m also a bit of a mince pie addict. I make my own, using a family recipe, and eating them fresh from the oven while they’re still warm is a real Christmastime treat in our household.

5. What is your trick for getting past writer’s block? And what advice do you have for other authors who are struggling to tell their story?

I’m lucky that this hasn’t really happened to me yet. I hope I’m not tempting fate here and am thinking that I should quickly touch wood or something! However, when I’m seeking inspiration, I usually find that my best ideas come to me when I’m in the bath (and have nothing to write them down with!). So, I guess that my advice would be not to try and force the story, but to take some time out and relax. Close the bathroom door to make sure you’re not disturbed, light a few candles, luxuriate in the warm, scented water and wait for the ideas to come floating into your head!

6. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it’s yours. What’s your story?

It happened one Halloween a few years ago when I’d been to a friend’s party, dressed as a vampire with full gruesome face make-up; white face, black-ringed eyes and fake blood dripping from the corners of my mouth. I was the first to leave just after midnight, as I had to go to work the following morning. My friend lived in a rural area with a manned railway-crossing near to her isolated cottage. Late at night, you weren’t allowed to ring the bell to get the railwayman to come and open the barrier for you to drive across the tracks. Instead, you had to climb the steps of the signal box and knock on the door, which I duly did – but there was no reply. I was a bit impatient at having to wait out there in the cold and the dark, so I moved in front of the window and saw the man with his feet up on the desk, seemingly engrossed in his newspaper. I rapped loudly on the window pane and at last he looked up. His face went white, his eyes almost popped out of his head, but he remained seated, staring at me with his mouth gaping. So, I banged harder on the glass and he eventually staggered to his feet and came to the door, looking terrified. ‘You nearly gave me a heart attack,’ he gasped. Then I remembered how I was dressed and felt such a fool, and also a little guilty for having scared him. Apparently, he dined out on that story for years and always told my friend, every time he saw her, that the encounter had probably shortened his life by 20 years! I wonder if it was on his recommendation that the crossing in question is now automated?

 

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