Saturday, December 15, 2018

Christmas Countdown: THE ORNAMENT KEEPER by Eva Marie Everson





Eva 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.













Award-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.









Q&A With the Author:

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.





To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Part 2 Official Event page 





Friday, December 14, 2018

Christmas Countdown: MONTE'S MISFITS by The Crazy Cady Sisters




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:
·        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.
·        On 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.


 ~ Website ~





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

What 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!




Q&A With the Authors:

Chris’s 6 Questions:

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.
  
Susan’s 6 Questions

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.


Grace’s Questions
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.  I took a long
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.





To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Part 2 Official Event page





Thursday, December 13, 2018

Christmas Countdown: CHRISTMAS ON A MISSION by Hannah R. Conway





Hannah 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.







Audria 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 fiancĂ© 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 fiancĂ© 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."




Q&A With the Author:

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.

           





To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour 
visit our Part 2 Official Event page
    




Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Christmas Countdown: Max's Christmas Adventure & Max's Midnight Adventure




Dividing 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.




 ~ Website ~
  


MAX’S ADVENTURES are spin-offs from my 
SHADOWS FROM THE PAST books.

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.


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 …







Q&A With the Author:

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?



To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Part 1 Official Event page 
and
Part 2 Official Event page