Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Three Christmas Writers and a Lovely Gift for You

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas… at least, it is in my house.  To put me in the mood I've thrown the first of several parties of the season and from my mile-long list of awesome peeps, I've managed to round up three star guests and lure them to a quiet corner away from the noisy festivities for a little chat.  The cat graciously made space for us (even though two of these ladies secretly admitted to preferring dogs, which didn't impress Miss Cat too much, but never mind - a little bit of smoked salmon and she's anybody's).  Anyway, let me introduce them.  They're three top writers whose wonderful Christmas romances are warming hearts on both sides of the pond this season: Elizabeth Ayers, Marie Higgins and Debra Holland.

So, champagne glasses filled (well Elizabeth's and mine, anyway - Debra sipped her lemonade while Marie nursed a Coke); and Christmas music crooning out from the sound system, we naturally started reminiscing about childhood Christmases and early memories.  Debra made us all smile with her amusing story of Santa visiting her house when she was five.  Reluctant to let him leave, she ran outside with her cousin and younger brother to wave him off in his sleigh, "But all we saw was a car driving away.  Our parents said we hadn't been fast enough to see the sleigh."  Awww!  Or maybe Rudolph just had the night off?  Elizabeth's first Christmas memory was seeing the magic of the Christmas tree, the lights, "They were big bulbs, but they had these tin reflectors on them (which, thinking back on it, kept the needles from touching hot bulbs).  And it was covered in silvery tinsel."  It's not difficult to imagine a three year old's fascination at the sight.  Marie, on the other hand, touched our hearts with her story of how her family gave away Christmas.  Yes, you heard right!

"My aunt and her family did not have any money to buy their three boys a Christmas," Marie told us. "So my parents talked to me and my older brother and younger sister, and we decided to give our Christmas to our cousins who were much younger than we were."  Marie, the middle child of three, couldn't have been more than eight so this was a huge sacrifice for her and her siblings.  Resigned to nothing but clothes for Christmas, imagine their astonishment on Christmas morning when they found presents for all stacked under the tree.   "Apparently, one of my mother’s cousins heard what we were doing, and so she bought us our Christmas."  What a magical Christmas story.

From Christmases past to Christmas present, Debra told us how, being part-German, Christmas Eve holds particular significance for her.  Her huge extended family (on her mother's side) always gathers together then and Christmas begins in earnest. "We eat, talk, sing Christmas Carols, and open presents." And the festivities continue throughout the next day.  Sounds wonderful.  Marie listened to this looking rather wistful.  Her family has not had an easy time lately and what would make her Christmas would be a turnaround for her husband and daughters.  I hope so too, Marie.  For Elizabeth also, family is all.  Her best Christmas ever was the first she spent with her husband (more about her romantic past later!)  Elizabeth long ago realised that the perfect Christmas was more a state of mind, than about material possessions "I could squeeze out a batch of my family's traditional cookies and my husband's traditional French Canadian meat pie - well, it was Christmas and we were a family".

Over the next couple of blog posts, I'm going to reveal a bit more about each of my special guests and share excerpts from their wonderful Christmas stories.  Today I'm starting with Elizabeth, whose story, A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming, I'm currently reading and loving - and this can also be yours, because Elizabeth is offering this as a FREE Christmas download from Smashwords just for you lovely readers.  Simply visit and at the checkout use the coupon code: ZL82A and the book is yours!  It's also available from Amazon for only 99 cents).  Happy Christmas reading.

A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming

Is love preordained? An old diary from when Jessie and Clare Coleman settled on the land in the 1840's provides a history of their life. But tucked between the pages is an unrequited love between Clare Coleman and a tall Native American. Does love and land come full circle? In this season of giving, will fate reach through time to give a gift of love?

Intrigued?  Well here's an excerpt from this wonderful story:

Caroline Coleman hadn't seen the place look this good since she was a teen. The flowerbeds were mulched and tidy. There was a new coat of green paint on the shutters and front door. Garlands of fresh pine wrapped the porch rails that encircled the log house, and a pretty, matching, pine wreath hung on the front door.
She knocked once and opened the door. "Grandmamma. It's me! I'm home."
"Thank goodness, you're here," a voice from a distant room called back. "I was worried about you coming in with this snowstorm on its way."
The stress of her journey slipped from her shoulders as she breathed in the familiar scent of home. Caroline let go of her rolling suitcase and looked around. Inside, everything looked the same, even though it was decorated for the holiday. A beautiful Douglas fir tree, covered with ornaments, stood in front of the window. Its tiny lights twinkled as if they were welcoming her.
The house was neater, cleaner, except there was a basket of toys next to the sofa. But everything else was exactly the way it had been all of her life. That familiarity wrapped her in a warm blanket.
"Darling, I'm so glad you're here. You're needed. This storm is going to be bad," Barbara Coleman said.
Caroline turned to her grandmother. The woman was holding a toddler whose eyes were filled with tears.
"What are you doing? Babysitting?" She hugged her grandmother and offered to take the child, but the child clung to the older woman.
"I guess you could call it babysitting. I'm trading, and I got the best end of this bargain. This is Sarah Anne Coyote. Isn't she a cutie?" Barbara took the child to a highchair in the kitchen. "Coffee?"
"Thanks. I'll get it. How did you wind up with a child?"
"Long story. You remember Margaret Simpson?" The older woman started fixing a snack.
"Double T ranch, of course."
"Her kids are selling everything since she died. Remember when I told you I was buying some of her land?" She put a handful of baby carrots on a plate, and stuck them in the microwave.
"Yes." Caroline poured a cup of coffee, then watched her grandmother fix a cup of milk with a sipping lid, and hand it to the toddler.
The child's enormous chocolate brown eyes were still washed in unshed tears and her long eyelashes were clumped with moisture. Chubby hands grabbed at the handles on the sippy-cup and tipped the cup of milk to her mouth. She watched Caroline with a reserved curiosity.
"Are you thirsty? Did you just wake up from a nap?" Caroline asked the child.
Little Sarah pursed her lips and banged on the tray in front of her. "Milk."
"How old is she? She's adorable. She's got the prettiest eyes."
"Thirteen months. She's a little handful. She's really coming out of her shell since she's been here." Barbara put several crackers spread with cheese on the child's tray. "Eat, sweet baby. You like creamed cheese." The microwave beeped and Barbara lifted the plate of baby carrots off the unit's carousel and put them on the child's tray after checking each one. "She's such a good thing. Just never thought I'd be playing with a baby at my age."
"Why did you nuke her carrots?"
"It slightly softens them. Makes them easier to eat. She doesn't have all her teeth."
"Grandmamma, you still haven't told me how you've wound up with a child."
"Well, I'm buying the eastern portion of Margaret's land, which includes her house and barn because it backs up to mine."
"Nice house."
"Yes, it is. I'm hoping to rent it. The one barn is in perfect shape, but the other barn has some problems and that's going to take more money."
Caroline rolled her eyes. Sarah giggled.
"Anyway, when Margaret died, her foreman lost his job."
"Oh, no. Sarah is one of those Coyotes?"
The back door opened and Andy Coyote walked into the kitchen. "Miz Barbara…"
Caroline stared at Andy. He wasn't the scrawny kid she'd known most of her life, and if it hadn't been for the scar across his cheek, she wouldn't have recognized him. His shoulders were broad and he'd grown very tall. The long straight nose, strong cheekbones, and his coloring conveyed his Crow Indian heritage, except he was taller than most.
"Excuse me, I didn't know you had company." He took his jacket off and hung it on the peg by the back door.
"Company? I doubt that anyone would call me company," Caroline shot back at him. She couldn't remember the last time she'd seen him, maybe high school.
He looked at her for a brief second, then grabbed a mug, and poured a cup of coffee.
"Caroline, you remember Andy?" Barbara asked.
"How could I not remember Andy?" Memories of the young man and his family flowed through her brain like a bad news story.
Sarah squealed with delight as Andy took her in his arms. "How's my baby girl?"
The child pointed to Caroline.
"Yes, that's Caroline," Andy said with a big grin. "Have you been playing with her? I thought you just got up from your nap."
"She did just get up from her nap as Caroline came through the door. I brought her in here for her snack. She hasn't had a chance to play."
He pulled his mobile phone from his pocket and looked at it. "We're in trouble."
"What kind of trouble?" Barbara asked as she cleaned up the crumbs off the child's tray and handed the toddler the last tiny carrot. "Are you talking about the storm?"
Andy turned on the TV and watched the weather channel. "I've been watching the storm track on my phone. I'm gonna need help getting that herd down here. I can't do it alone. If I can find help, I'll leave tonight. That is if you don't mind keeping Sarah for me."
Barbara turned to her granddaughter. "Caroline'll go with you."
Andy turned around and stared hard. "You? You think you can ride herd?"
"Darn right, I can ride. Won't be the first herd I've ever brought in, but I…" She bit her tongue.
"But what?"
She forced a smile. "Let's just say I always ride with a gun, and I know how to use it."
"Good. So do I. We'll leave at six. Make sure you're saddled and ready to go."
Hot anger boiled through Caroline. "I'll be ready."
She stormed out of the kitchen, grabbed her suitcase, and headed for her room.

More about the author:
Born and raised with wealth, E. Ayers turned her back on all of it and married her prince charming a few days after her eighteenth birthday. Her family disowned her, and her friends were shocked. A firm believer in love conquering everything, she never looked back. The love she and her husband shared became the springboard for her novels.
Fascinated with the way people deal with everyday problems, E Ayers has always been an observer and a listener. A simple problem for one person is a mountain for another. She utilizes those common predicaments, which is why her books touch so many lives.
Today, she spends most of her free time writing while living in a pre-Civil War home with her two dogs and a cat. Rattling around in an old money pit gives her muse plenty of freedom. Her idea of a perfect day is to spend it at the keyboard of her computer, coffee in hand, and everything in the house actually working as it should. She's the official matchmaker for all the characters who wander through her brain, and she likes finding just the right ones to create a story.
She adores hearing from her fans and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and at her website.

Who interests you more - your heroes or your heroines? Both
E-books or print? E-books
Dogs or cats? Dogs
Sunshine or snow? Snow!
Christmas or Thanksgiving? Christmas
Favourite party drink? Spiked Eggnog! LOL

@ayersbooks  (Twitter)


E. Ayers said...

Now don't go telling Miss Cat that I don't like her. I do have Hook (A black and white tuxedo cat) who is the "man" of this house. (But the only place you'll find balls in this house are on the Christmas tree.) He swaggers into the room occasionally and graciously honors us with his presence.

I will admit he's easier than dogs. At least, I don't have to walk him in the rain. Litter box? Check. Food bowl? Check. Water bowl? Check. Hook's happy! LOL

ManicScribbler said...

OK, Elizabeth, mum's the word (interestingly Miss Cat's new enemy is a smart little feline with a black and white tuxedo - hmmm). I agree cats are easier than dogs in some respects but can be prima donnas in others.
Thanks so much for being such a delightful guest - and do stay tuned - there's more to come. (Champagne is great for loosening tongues...)

Rose Anderson ~ Romance Novelist said...

I enjoyed A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming and it's a love story to be reread. :) Cute post ladies.


Mona Risk said...

Lovely post, ladies. And very nice excerpt. Why do you all think Christmas comes with snow and cold? I love Christmas in the South, on the beach, with the twinkling lights spiraled around a palm tree.

E. Ayers said...

I've never had a Christmas with palm trees, but I'm always willing to try something new. For me Christmas is snow! But it rarely happens where I live in Virginia. As a child, if we didn't get a fresh snowfall, it was like being cheated out of an important part of the whole season.

My husband had several Christmases in Naples, Italy as a teen. His mom often told me about all the beautiful decorations done with oranges and native leaves. I know he liked it.

They say Hawaii is beautiful at Christmas. I think I'll add Christmas in Hawaii to my bucket list. Thanks for the reminder.

E. Ayers said...

Thanks so much for your kind words, Rose. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

And I agree that Lynette is a marvelous hostess!

Jenny Twist said...

What a lovely post! I loved the story of giving away Christmas. And how nice to find out a bit more about Elizabeth Ayers, who is a favourite of mine. Looking forward to the next post.

E. Ayers said...

Thanks so much for dropping by, Jenny. Isn't Lynette's blog wonderful? Now have a glass of champagne! If you haven't read Marie and Deb's books, you must. I'm so thrilled to be here with them and glad that you joined us.

Just be careful around Miss Cat. Seems I upset her earlier, and now she's discovered there's more than one tuxedo kitty in the world. Oh my!

ManicScribbler said...

Rose, Mona and Jenny - how lovely to see you. Thanks for dropping by and, of course, Elizabeth for holding the fort. More champagne anyone?

Mona, all my life I've tried to imagine spending Christmas on a beach but always worry about getting sand on the turkey! Seriously though, you paint an idyllic picture, yet somehow the cold goes with Christmas and it's the one day of the year we all hope for snow.

Wherever you spend your Christmas, I hope it's wonderful.

Marie Higgins said...

What a great post! E. Ayers, I was happy to get to know you better!

And about the cat situation... I don't hate them, I'm just allergic to them so I can't cuddle them like most people can.

ManicScribbler said...

Oh dear, please forgive me - I didn't mean to suggest that anyone hated cats at all! Just that some people naturally prefer dogs - perfectly understandable, as I explained to Miss Cat after the party. Actually I think she might prefer a (smallish) good-natured dog to her new black and white feline nemesis.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, everyone, and happy holidays!

I love this excerpt, Elizabeth! So much back story implied, and such real interactions.

Good luck with the book!

E. Ayers said...

Maybe Miss cat would like my little dog, Sugarplum. She's a Schnoodle and she was born on Christmas Eve. She's only half the size of Hook, and he does take very good care of her. She's quite friendly when it comes to other animals, yet easy going.

My oldest daughter is allergic to cats, yet she's always loved them. So her pet of choice is a dog.

E. Ayers said...

Happy Holidays to you, Lisabet! I'm so glad you stopped by! Wishing you all the best.

ManicScribbler said...

Oh my, Elizabeth! I'd never heard of a Schnoodle before so I just Googled it (Google Schnoodle - lol). What a perfect, adorable little dog - I WANT ONE!! Oh and Sugarplum - what a great name for a Christmas pet. I'd love to see a photo of Sugarplum.

Greetings, Lisabet - nice of you to drop by.

E. Ayers said...

Well, she looks like a white poodle, but with a thicker body, and her curly hair is more like cotton in texture. When I brought her home she fit in the palm of my hand. Wonderful, right? No. My big dog is a Boxer, and she thought I'd brought her the perfect squeak toy. It took her a little while to figure it out. It's quite funny to see these ragtag fur babies playing.

The Boxer was rescued and so was Hook. Sugarplum was the result of a rescued Poodle who managed to get pregnant before she could be fixed. My Boxer loves everyone, except anyone unknown who comes near me. She's my protector, my bed warmer, and my barking doorbell.

I can't imagine life without a pet. In my lifetime I've either owned it or pet-sat it. At one point, my husband threatened to put a sign on the front door, "ZOO", and wanted to charge admission.

If it is alive, be it plant or animal, and you need to cared for while you are gone, give it to me. I actually got neighbors' houseplants after a fire destroyed most of their house. I washed each leaf and managed to save all of them.

Every time I visit your blog, I must stop long enough to play with your fish.(left side of blog) Maybe I need a fish tank. Haven't had one of those in years. I think I'll put it on my Christmas wish list for next year. I'm hoping to go to Wyoming this summer and finding someone to care for my fish...well, I haven't figured out how to clone myself. LOL (The furry children are coming with me.)

There are all sorts of fabulous animals that need homes. Yes, they are extra work and many aren't cute babies, but they will love their new owners, and be thrilled to have a safe home this holiday season. If you can't adopt, at least consider giving to your local shelter or humane society. It really is a matter of life or death.

ManicScribbler said...

Sugarplum and your pet family sound lovely, Elizabeth and you are right about giving to an animal charity, especially at Christmas. These animal shelters invariably rely on donations to be able to continue the excellent work they do.

And speaking of excellent work - the reason I neglected my blog yesterday was because I was glued to A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming and transported into a completely different world. It's the first story in this genre I've ever read and I loved it. I can't recommend it highly enough for an engrossing, cosy Christmas read. Well done, Elizabeth - and thank you for a great read.

E. Ayers said...

You are very welcomed. I'm so glad that you were so engrossed in A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming that you neglected your blog. (BIG GRIN) Yes, there is something special about our American cowboys.

I do hope you read all my Wyoming stories, and I'm sure you'll love Debra Holland's historic view of Montana. The countryside is beautiful if you like wide-open spaces that butt against craggy mountains.

ManicScribbler said...

I'll post my review of A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming on my Wednesday's Writer spot as soon as I can. Meanwhile readers can check it out on Smashwords - where I believe the book is still free with the coupon code above. I hope it will encourage others as it's such a worthwhile read.

I'm looking forward to reading at least one of Debra's books over Christmas. I love discovering new genres.

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