Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Short Christmas Story by Ginger Simpson

This story is geared for those who celebrate Christmas, but I would like to wish each and everyone, no matter your faith, good tidings and a prosperous New Year.

Santa the Tooth Fairy

Little Kayla sat near the Christmas tree and wiggled her lose tooth. She stopped and turned her attention from the crackling fire beyond the hearth. “Mommy, if I pull my tooth, do you think Santa will leave me a dollar.”

Her mother laughed. “I think you have things mixed up, honey. It’s the tooth fairy who leaves money.”

Kayla cocked her head and flashed that familiar look of independence. “I know that, Mommy! But if my tooth falls out at tonight, maybe Santa will reward me, too. I’m not sure if the Tooth Fairy works on Christmas Eve.”

Although only four, the child had a penchant for being creative. Margaret Tanner put her knitting aside and walked past her daughter to the fireplace. She poked at the logs and sent flaming fingers stretching up the chimney. “I don’t think Santa will have time to look under your pillow. You know, he’s very busy this time of year.” She walked back to her chair.

The front door opened, and a blast of cold air flickered the fire. “Daddy, daddy,” Kayla called, rushing over and grabbing him around the knees.

He ruffled her hair with his gloved hand. “Hi, Sweetheart. Let me get out of my coat and I’ll give you a hug. It’s cold outside.” He shrugged off his outerwear, sending snow flaking to the marbled entry hall floor, and after hanging his coat in a nearby closet, he scooped Kayla into his arms and nuzzled her neck until she giggled. Stopping, he leaned his head back. “Have you been a good girl today?”

“Oh yes, Daddy, and I’ve decided you can pull my loose tooth.”

He flashed a puzzled look at his wife.

She smiled. “We’ve already discussed the tooth fairy, but Kayla seems to think Santa should play a part.”

He placed Kayla on the ground, took her hand, and walked to his plaid recliner. Sitting, with her perched on his knee, he scratched his brow. “Why don’t we just wait until that tooth falls out on its own? There’s no rush.”

“But, I want you to pull it.” Her eyes clouded with tears and her little bow lips pulled into a pout.

“Then, let me see.” He took hold of the loose tooth and wiggled it. “You’re right. I think it could come out.” Russell Tanner ruffled her hair again. 

“Then pull it, Daddy.” She scrunched her eyes closed and hunched her shoulders. 

“I already did.” He held up a tiny, white enamel pearl.

Her eyes widened. She smacked her lips, then made a face. A wee bit of blood dotted her bottom lip.

“Come on, Kayla, let’s rinse out your mouth and get you ready for bed. Santa comes tonight and if you aren’t asleep, he’ll just pass us by.”

Kayla slid off her father’s knee and flashed a smile. She looked adorable with a space where her tooth was just minutes ago. “Thank you, Daddy. I wanted to see if Santa will leave me a dollar so I can put it in the offering plate at church tomorrow. It’s Jesus’ birthday and I want to leave him a gift.” 

THE END

By the way, my story is dedicated to the memory of my father who always could pull a tooth without my knowing it. I can't believe how many times I fell for, Just let me feel how loose it is." I miss you, Daddy. I wish you could hear you say those familiar Christmas words..."Let's open JUST one."

Please check out my page at Books We Love.

Friday, December 19, 2014

New Releases from Books We Love

These titles have been released in the past month from Books We Love. All are available as ebooks from Amazon. Click on links for more information or to purchase.




Also Enjoy these Christmas titles, available now!






Merry Christmas from Books We Love!







It's Christmas Time! Nancy M Bell

Hard to believe another year has passed and it's almost Christmas Eve again. As I grow older there are so many memories to sift through. The really early childhood ones from the '50's and '60's. Every Christmas Eve we would pile in the car and drive all around Toronto visiting my dad's sisters who lived there. We lived on the outskirts in West Hill. We usually started in Mississauga at Aunt Joy's, or in Whitevale at Aunt Ola's and then Aunt Gloria and always Aunt Loral's was last. I'm not sure why he planned it that way but it always was. By that time we had surged to a sugar high and were on the down swing. A great time to stock up on sugary treats for the ride home. LOL One year we were pulling in our driveway and Santa--YES SANTA CLAUS!--was walking down the neighbor's driveway. My sister and I panicked and raced into the house and threw ourselves into our bunk beds with our coats and boots still on. Nothing would persuade us to get into PJ's cause Santa was NEXT DOOR! and coming to our house next. I can still recall the frenzy of trying to fall asleep with my heart beating like crazy. Time passed and we grew up and apart. Later memories are of when my own children were young. Putting up Charlie Brown Christmas trees that wouldn't stay upright. One year I got so frustrated I hammered the tree stand to the trunk with 2 inch Ardox nails. (and tied it to the wall for good measure) But time passes on, children grow up and have families of their own and start their own traditions based on the ones they learned as children.
Sometimes I seem to lose the spirit of the season, but only briefly. A walk in the night with the moonlight burnishing the snow and stars bright in the sable sky always bring it back. When we had our own boarding stable in a big old bank barn in Ontario I used to take time every Christmas Eve to spend some time in the warm stable with the yellow light shining from the windows out onto the snow and the cedars whispering in the wind. The sound of horses chewing their hay and the smell of pine shavings and sweet feed calming my soul.


Christmas 2010


My oldest son and his family Christmas 2012 Banff Alberta


Christmas Moon


In 1988 I wrote about Christmas at my small farm in southern Ontario. A Brandy Hollow Christmas I'd like to share it with you here. Wow, just re-typing this here has brought back so many memories.

There is nothing quite like a country Christmas, in this fast paced world it is very few of us who have the chance to live with nature rather than against it. am lucky enough to live on a small farm and experience the joys of working with the land. Recently, we sold this farm and I began to say good-bye to all the little things that are so much a part of living here. Suddenly, I realized that this Christmas 1988 I wouldn't be in my little house in the hollow. Perhaps because I won't be in Brandy Hollow for Christmas I want to share the Christmases we did have here.

The times when the snow blossomed against the living room window and laced the cedar trees, bending the woods under its weight. In the new light of morning the children and dogs make tracks across the virgin blanket of the lawn. The horses when I turn them out blow the snow up in puffs with their snorts and then roll and roll again. I want to share the special stillness there is here after a snow fall and especially a Christmas snow. Last year it came on December 23rd, but it was still a Christmas Eve snow. The sun just catching the top of the cedar and birch in the barnyard and the blue jays and the chickadees already searching for seeds. The gentle hand of the morning air sending sparkles dancing from the delicate fingers of the snow dressed trees. The warm smell of the horses and hay when I step into the barn from the frosty stillness of early morning.

The warm glow of my little living room, the sun coming in the window, a fire in the woodstove and the Christmas tree taking over the room. Every year we re-arrange the furniture so we can fit the tree in and by Christmas morning there are presents under the tree, on the tree, around the tree, and presents spilling across the floor and in front of the hearth as well. The cats just waiting for all that lovely ribbon and paper to be theirs. The lovely peace of Christmas Eve when the children are asleep and us old folks are waiting for Santa and midnight too, to see if the animals will speak to me. Yes, I still believe! The smell of the fire and the flicker of the flames against the walls. Jessie and Josh, the dogs, sleeping on the mat my grandfather made in front of the stove, joined by most of our five house cats. There is that special thrill of anticipation that comes only on Christmas Eve. The warm feeling of the love that goes with the presents. The sharing of joy in giving that special gift. The dark quietness of the night, moonlight throwing blue and silver shadows on the snow as I go out to the barn to tuck the horses in on this most special of all nights. The music of the wind in the trees and the starfire crackling in the stillness as I take a Christmas walk by the pond and take the opportunity to say my own private 'Thank You' to the spirit that created all this wonder.

There is a peace in this farm and always a feeling of love. As though this house and this land have always been blessed. But never is the feeling so strong as at Christmas. Even people who aren't sensitive to their surroundings feel this too. The goodwill seems to pervade the very air. All things find refuge here. Strays find their way to my door, both wild and tame, and human as well as animal. This is a safe place and a healing place. There is that little bit of Christmas Love here all year round.

I think one of the best things about the season is the love, the sharing, the giving. It is the one time in the year we can hug someone without embarrassing them or ourselves. Or kiss someone and say the things we think all year but never find the words or opportunity to share.

This year I'm leaving my little farm and I will miss it terribly. But I will never lose the peace or the love it has given me. And always, I'll have that little bit of Brandy Hollow Christmas in my heart. My Christmas wish for you and yours is that you will know the peace and joy that Christmas brings. An that 'all things wise and wonderful' and 'all things bright and beautiful' will be yours.

I wish you a Brandy Hollow Christmas!



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Magnificent Christmas Tree -- Janet Lane Walters


I wish I could put pictures on this site but this is a memory and no one took pictures of the tree that ate a room in out house. The year was 1946. I was 10 years old. My father was a steelworker and now the war was over and life was back to normal and strikes happened. There were contracts to be made and almost every year or two the steelworkers went out on strike. Always around the winter holidays. Life was one of feast or famine.

My father usually found some kind of part time work during these times and we usually had a scanty Christmas. This year my sister was 6 and my brother 2. Since I was considered an adult being paid for babysitting by a neighbor and for taking care of my brother and sister., I was the tree-buyer designated. The tree never was put up until after the smaller ones went to bed. I was psyched since I not only was able to buy the tree but I could help decorate the tree.

Friends of my father ran the Veterans of Foreign Wars tree stand. I was sent there at 9 o'clock to get the tree. My friend took his little red wagon to haul the tree. The place we had to go was down forty steps under the railroad station or going all the way through town about a three mile trip. Going the shortest way seemed to be the best.

We reached the tree place and there were only a few trees left. Most of them made Charlie Brown trees look beautiful. These men had saved a special tree for me. This tree was 12 feet tall. The wagon was maybe four or five at best. The tree was full and beautiful and they charged me 50 cents for the tree. To me this was not only a bargain but the most wonderful tree I ever had seen.

Many struggles later with rope added to lengthen the pull rope on the wagon we managed to take the tree up all those steps to the house. My parents opened the door. My mother threw up her hands. "What have you done?" My father father just laughed. "She always has big ideas."

Fortunately the ceilings in the row house were 14 feet. The house was on 3 levels with three rooms on each level. Basement kitchen, dining room and furnace room. First floor living room, the spare room and the bathroom. Three bedrooms on the third floor.

The tree was going in the spare room. Once the tree was in the stand and anchored to the wall with hooks and rope we began to decorate. Fortunately the tree was placed in a corner since the lower branches extended well into the room. We only had enough decorations to do the front of the tree but no one would see the the back.

On Christmas morning my siblings were really impressed with the size of the tree. So were my friends. That was the year my brother got his first truck to push around. My sister got a doll and poked out the eyes. She did not like the glass beady ones staring at her. I got a chemistry set and a few days later I did my first experiment. The entire house and maybe even the neighbors smelled of rotten eggs. You can imagine what I made with that set.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Birthday by Roseanne Dowell


Today is my 2nd child's birthday. Forty-nine years ago today at 2:16 PM I gave birth to another beautiful baby girl. Funny how we never forget the births of our children. I can remember everyone down to the minute.
I was a bit anxious about giving birth. After all it was only 9 days until Christmas and I was already ten days late.  I didn't want a Christmas baby, nor did I want to be 19 days late, I'm sure everyone who has had a child can relate to that last month of pregnancy.
Back then they let you go late- ten days, fifteen days, didn't matter. My sister was almost a whole month late. But I digress.
I had a doctor's appointment on the afternoon of the 14th of December,  and hoped he'd  get the ball rolling so to speak.  After examining me, he said I was dilated and it could be any time, but if I wanted I could take a combination of orange juice, castor oil and baking soda. Never having experienced this or knowing anyone who did, I went to the store and purchased the items, came home and mixed them together. I proceeded to drink them. It only took a second or two for them to come up on me and I barely made it to the bathroom to rid myself of this awful concoction. Not one I'd recommend to anyone, by the way. Even thinking about it turns my stomach. I couldn't drink orange juice for years after that.
Okay so that didn't work.  My older sister who lived next door, and her fourth child just a month before, was all for giving advice to help me go into labor.
On December 15th, her first suggestion was to stand next to a chair and do knee bends - ten of them I believe. Rest, do ten more. After about twenty minutes of that, I asked for some other idea. Funny as it sounds now, she recommended my husband drive very fast over railroad tracks. Okay, that wasn't going to happen. I wasn't about to wreck our car just to go into labor. Besides, I doubted that would work either
So she came up with a plan, go to the hospital and tell them I was in labor. The worst they'd do is send me home. Okay, I admit, by this time I was desperate so that evening my husband took me to the hospital. As luck would have it, I was experiencing labor pains - even though I didn't feel them. Few and far between, but they didn't send me home. Since I'd slept through my older daughter's labor, it didn't surprise me that I wasn't feeling them. However, I didn't deliver that night.
My husband went home and the next afternoon around two o'clock the doctor came in and broke my water. I heard him telling my husband he stripped my membranes. Did my husband ask what that meant? Heck no.
At any rate, after checking me again, the doctor said it would be a while and left. No more had he walked out of the room, I looked at the nurse and said, "my baby's coming."
 She said, "no the doctor said it would be a while."
 I shook my head and said, "NO, my baby's coming now."
I think more to appease me than anything, she checked me and yelled, "Someone stop the doctor. Her baby's coming."
Things happened pretty quickly after that. They moved me into delivery, the anesthesiologist and doctor arrived pretty much the same time and put me out. Yes, this was back in the day they put you
to sleep to deliver
Next thing I woke up with them showing me my beautiful baby girl. I took one look at her and asked if they were sure that was my baby.
Of course they panicked and quickly looked at my wrist band and her bracelet and assured me it was my baby. I said okay and cuddled her close to me. After my first little girl being born pretty  with just a little fuzz of blond hair, I didn't expect a baby with dark hair, let alone enough to make a curl on top of her head.
So Happy Birthday to one of my beautiful daughters, Kimberly Anne (Dowell) Dibble. I hope you have a fantastic day.

Find all of  Roseanne's books at Amazon or Books We Love

Monday, December 15, 2014

Here comes the bride - wait, what???

By Michelle Lee
BWL Art Director

Finding images can be somewhat of a challenge - especially for historical fiction.  The costumes are just so expensive, and each time period had such drastically different clothing styles.  Plus there were different styles within each time period depending upon where in the world the story is set.

Yeah, historical fiction can be a challenge to create cover art for.

So I was tickled when I came across a suggestion for a simple and easy way around it (in some cases at least).  You ready for it?

BRIDES!

That's right, most bridal gowns are poofy and have those small beading details that just add so much depth to the image.  And they really are very versatile in what you can use them for - plus the women generally have intricate hair styles, which also adds to the appeal of the images.

Now I am not saying that will work for all historical fiction (it will work best with romances), but it does offer some more options.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, not all details are going to be time period exact.  So sometimes you have to overlook the fact that some details won't be perfect ... and look at the cover and evaluate the images as a whole.  

Now for an example of how a wedding gown can be used ...


When the dress is white, it is very obviously a wedding gown.  But how I have modified it to dark blue?  It has the look of a ball gown ... and with that hair-do, she could easily fit in several different time periods.

Thoughts?

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If you are interested in other rambling about cover art by Michelle Lee, check out the following Inside BWL Blog Posts:
Alas Poor Images, I Cannot Find You
Fonts, Fonts, and More Fonts

and other Behind The Cover Art posts ...

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Michelle Lee is a self-taught cover artist who has an opinion on pretty much everything, and a love of the natural world that often means tidbits and trivia are shared on a whim.  You can check out her portfolio at: Stardust Creations

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sepia Photos and Other Stories by Sheila Claydon

I was sorting through family photographs a while back when a picture of a group of young people caught my eye, or, to be more exact, a girl in the centre of the group. The photo, which was well over one hundred years old, was in faded sepia, so it wasn't possible to know the exact colour of her hair or eyes. They looked dark though, and her hair, which was twisted up on top of her head in the complicated style of the nineteenth century, was curling and abundant. She was laughing and dimpled and looked the picture of health and energy.

Smiling at her was a young man. He was wearing a straw boater and had a curling moustache and a wicked grin. He looked extremely dashing. Between them stood a beautiful little boy. He was wearing a white smock and his head was a tangle of blonde curls. He was probably about three years old.

Eventually I found out who they were, and because they were so beguiling I set about tracking their life. I discovered that the little boy, whose name was John, was eventually joined by two little blonde sisters. So far so good.

Then I found out that the young man was a cobbler, as were his father and grandfather before him. At this point I also discovered a poignant coincidence. Although this man was not related to me, the tiny shop he once owned was the very one where I used to take my own family's shoes to be mended when I was a child. He was long gone by then but the shop was still there and the wooden lasts hanging on the wall were the very ones he used when he was repairing shoes.  Another thing remained as well, the compassionate kindness he had shown to everyone who came to him. Somehow it had seeped into the very walls of the little shop and transferred itself to the new owner, a gentle man who always had time, kind words, and a candy for the little girl who came to collect her father's shoes.

In the case of my sepia gentleman, however, the compassion had come at a price. His kindness meant that he frequently mended shoes for free if his customers couldn't afford the leather, or he agreed to wait for their payment if it meant they were able to better feed their children. He also supported his two unmarried sisters financially for the whole of his life.  This generosity meant that his own family sometimes had to go without, something that was a bitter pill for his beautiful wife to swallow once her own sister married a wealthy man. She hated being the poor relative, and hated even more that her children were often dressed in their rich cousins' hand-me-downs.

Eventually I found a picture of that lovely girl and her dashing young husband when they had grown old and their family were long gone, and it was so sad. This one wasn't sepia, instead it was the grainy black and white of the twentieth century. In it, my lovely gentleman's boater had been replaced by a sensible cloth cap and his curling moustache had gone, as had most of his hair. As for the beautiful, vibrant girl, she had become a thin, sad-faced old woman.

When I saw it my heart went out to both of them, and yet at the same time everything I'd learned about their lives began to weave itself into a story in that part of my brain that collects and sifts ideas. I am a writer after all, and it has been said that all writers have a splinter of ice in their heart because  how else can they use what they see around them, so one day I might write their story, or maybe I will I just use the photograph and give them a happier ending. At the moment I have no idea, but it's amazing what one sepia photograph can do, and I still have a trunk full of family history to be sorted through.

My books have been triggered by the oddest things: a campaign to open a bridle path, a celebrity photo-shoot, a chance conversation on board a cruise ship, and other, even more unlikely happenings. They can be found at http://bookswelove.net/claydon.php





Sharing a Spring Short Story - Love in Lies

DK Davis here – sharing a Spring Short Story I wrote for the  750 Writer’s Group on GoodReads. They have monthly short story contests...