Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Don't Forget the Mistletoe by Christy Carlyle

Continuing my author interviews with authors in The Gift of Christmas anthology. Today, I'm talking with Christy Carlyle about her short story "Don't Forget the Mistletoe." I loved this story about the difficult transition of friends to romance and all the expectations we set for that to happen.

Not only is Christy the author of this story, and the author of two wonderful historical romance novellas, but she is also the cover designer for the anthology.  A truly talented person who works way too many hours in many venues, I'm lucky she had a few moments to join us today.

Tell us about your inspiration for this story, Christy.

I’ve always loved stories set during wintertime and somehow linked to Christmas traditions. When I was a kid, there was an archway in the wall that joined our living and dining rooms, and sometimes we would hang a bundle of mistletoe in the center of that arch. It was glossy and green, and I knew the special tradition of giving or receiving a kiss when you stood under the mistletoe with someone. I’ve always wanted to incorporate that tradition into a romance story.

I grew up in the Midwest and most of my extended family lived nearby, so the holidays were always a grand event with lots of laughter, food, and fun. It was a chance to catch up and plan for the coming year. The backdrop of the holidays immediately evokes sentimental memories, yet it also makes me think about change. The advent of a new year is a time when anything is possible—resolutions are made, fortunes can change, new beginnings are just around the corner. The story of Ben and Amelia came to me wrapped up in this notion of a new possibility—a relationship that blossoms from friendship into love.

The friends-to-lovers story is one of my favorites. When I was younger and first read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, I was devastated that Jo March didn’t end up with her friend and neighbor Theodore “Laurie” Laurence. Mr. Knightley and Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen’s Emma are my favorite example of literary longtime friends with the potential for more. Much like Ben and Amy in my short story, “Don’t Forget the Mistletoe,” they are the closest of friends, even confidantes, but one of them is driven to risk the comfort of their friendship for the chance of something more.

You can learn more about Christy and her other books in these places:
Christy's Website | Windtree Press Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | G+ | Tumbler | Pinterest

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas with You by Jane Killick

Back to the holiday anthology, The Gift of Christmas, author interviews.  As a reminder, I am continuing my posts for individual authors on what inspired them to write their particular story. Today I'm talking to Jane Killick, the author of the short story "Christmas with You" in the anthology. 

Jane lives in the UK and works for BBC radio.  Like myself, and many Windtree Press authors, Jane is a cross-genre writer in both fiction and non-fiction. For my SF fans you may know Jane's well-regarded books about the series Red Dwarf and Babylon 5.   For my romance fans, you may have laughed your way through her romantic comedy novels, If Wishes Were Husbands and Fairy Nuff. She's also written plenty of short stories for magazines, anthologies, and as stand-alone reads.

What I love most about Jane is her sense of humor. Many of her titles make me laugh out loud. This story made me smile and cry.  It is poignant and reflects so much of a young family's first Christmas together with a new baby and all that entails.

So, Jane, What Inspired You to Write "Christmas with  You."

Last Christmas, I was out having lunch with a friend when the restaurant owner got into conversation with the couple on the table next to us. The man was an airline pilot working out of London’s Heathrow and was talking about how he had to work over Christmas. The planes have to keep flying, he explained, because there isn’t enough room to keep them all on the ground. I found this really interesting and, when I was looking to write a Christmas story for The Gift of Christmas anthology, I remembered this conversation and used it as my starting point. But my story, Christmas with You, although it features an airline pilot, isn’t really about an airline pilot.
Some years ago, my brother-in-law started to come to our house for Christmas. In his family, opening Christmas presents is a solitary affair as everyone opens their gifts in their own little corner all at once. We thought this was boring and selfish, so we made him do it our way. He was amazed at how we opened each present, one by one in front of each other, so the rest of the family enjoys the excitement as each gift is revealed. This makes opening Christmas presents much more inclusive and fun, even if it is only watching Grandma tear off the wrapping paper from her new pair of slippers.
I used this annecdote in my story. But even though it features a family opening their Christmas presents, this isn’t what my story is about.
One year when I was a child, my parents bought a turkey for Christmas that was so large that it wouldn’t fit in the fridge. So my dad put it outside in the greenhouse to keep it cool and fresh. This seemed like a good idea until Christmas morning when he went to bring it in, only to discover it had frozen solid during the overnight frost. We had to wait for it to defrost before we could cook it. Christmas dinner was very late that year.
I remembered that incident when I was writing my story, which features a turkey too frozen to cook for Christmas dinner. But my story isn’t really about desfrosting turkeys.
My story is about a young couple desperate to spend their first Christmas together with their baby son. Fate, it seems, is on their side as circumstances fall into place to allow this to happen, despite the husband’s work schedule.
Except my story isn’t really about that either. The truth about my story is only revealed at the end, and to find that out, you’re just going to have to read it.

Readers, doesn't this peak your interest? I have read Jane's story and I promise you will remember it for a very long time. 

To learn more about Jane and her work visit her at these places:
Jane's website | Windtree Press author page | Facebook | Twitter |

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving has always been my most favorite holiday of the year. It's not the turkey, the pies, the variety of salads and veggies. It's not the cozy sleepiness afterward. I love Thanksgiving because of it's meaning, the whole concept of giving thanks for what we have, what we share, and taking an entire day--or weekend--to count blessings.

I love celebrating Thanksgiving because there is no expectations to give presents, go shopping, wear some kind of special outfit--unless you enjoy dressing as a pilgrim--or any of the things associated with most other holiday celebrations.

Here is my abbreviated list of things I am thankful for:
  • My family, both immediate family and extended family, who have always supported me, even when my decisions were questionable.
  • My friends, both those in the past and in the present. I have been blessed that people pass through my  life and always leave me something amazing for having been there. Some people were friends for short periods of time--a year or two, while a few have been friends with me for more than 40 years. That's a long time to still care about someone.
  • My church community. I am especially blessed to be with the community I am in now. Though I have always valued the churches that have been a part of my life, this one feels particularly like home.
  • The beautiful location where I live--Portland, Oregon. I have lived in many places over my 60+ years of life--east coast, west coast, the south, and the midwest. I have traveled to Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. Although everywhere I've been has something amazing to offer, for me Portland has it all--easy access to deserts, mountains, forests, rivers and the ocean. Mostly temperate weather, but the opportunity to get to snow or sunshine within a few hours.
  • Writers and Musicians who have brought me so much joy. I am fortunate to be part of both of these creative communities that feed my soul. No one understand the creative journey more than someone who is also pursuing that journey. No one else can understand the silence and often lonely act of creation, and the struggle to share it with others. It is a unique baring of the soul that most careers do not require and one that I do not take for granted in others. I am thankful to have so many creative people in my life.
I have been blessed a hundred times to be surrounded by people who are willing to share some of their life's journey with me. They share it with kindness, as well as compassionate kicks-in-the-butt when needed. They share a part of themselves with every conversation, every hug, and especially in the silences when we are together.
Happy Thanksgiving!