Thursday, November 30, 2023

New Christmas Traditions by Suzanne Winslow

Like many people, I grew up with a lot of Christmas traditions that I passed on to my children when they were growing up. Traditions like baking cookies, cutting the Christmas tree, visiting Santa, and celebrating with family and friends on Christmas Eve. My husband and I were in our early twenties when we started our family of six, so we sort of transitioned from being kids to having kids, with little time in-between.

Now, our four kids range in age from twenty-seven to thirty-four. Two are single, two are engaged. None of them have children. Three live in different states, all far away. And we’ll see only two of them this year.

All of this to say, Christmas is an ever-evolving holiday in our family. I bake a lot less with no one here to eat a season’s worth of cookies. We have artificial trees instead of a real one, and Christmas Eve is much quieter now.

So, how do we celebrate the holiday with only adults and in much smaller groups?

First, I’ve started a new take on a favorite tradition: the advent calendar. Our advent calendar is now full of game night/date night ideas. My husband and I divide the days and come up with different ideas for each one, taking weekdays and weekends into account. Some of the ideas are a throwback to the past, like driving to see Christmas lights and watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Other ideas are dart games with cheese and crackers, board games with a Christmas cocktail, a straight-up Christmas cocktail night, and holiday events at our favorite restaurants and wineries. Every morning, we open the activity for the day, and then look forward to whatever it is we’ll do later that evening.

I make the advent calendar using a wood soda crate and I store the ribbon, bow, and all the rest to reuse the following year. Super easy and lots of fun!

Another new tradition is picking one night to sleep by the fire next to the Christmas tree. We inflate the air mattress and make up the bed with a big, comfy comforter and pillows, and watch movies before we go to sleep. You can certainly do this with kids too.

Lastly, we have a fancier menu. If it’s just the two of us for Christmas dinner, we’ll splurge on steak and scallops and a nice bottle of wine.

If you’re curious about the advent calendar, follow me at to see this year’s ideas.

When I’m not celebrating Christmas, I’ll be editing Backfire, book three in my Smoke and Fire firefighter romance series, releasing in 2024. Burned and Bail Out, books one and two, are available in Amazon and Kindle Unlimited now.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays!

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Christmas is Hope by CurtissAnn Matlock

I still remember the telephone call from my editor. It was the late 1980s and a personal call from an editor from a New York City publishing house (landline phone, no cell phones yet) was an exciting event. For anyone, much less a newly published and insecure writer living far out in rural Oklahoma.

“Would you be interested in writing a Christmas novella for a new anthology?” she asked.

I said I would, and at the end of our brief conversation, I said, “Oh, thank you for this opportunity. I just really love Christmas!”

To which she replied, “I pretty well figured that,” her droll tone conveying her view of me as a sentimental romantic.

Over the years I was to write two novellas and a novel set against the backdrop of Christmas. The first novella, Miracle On I-40, was reprinted world-wide as a small paper gift book and later in hardback. The second novella, Once Upon a Christmas, was a historical set in Texas frontier, and remains one of my favorite stories, and the novel became number five in the Valentine series, set in the small fictional town of Valentine, Oklahoma. Quite oddly neither the editors, the marketing department, nor I identified it strongly as a Christmas book, and it ended up being published as Recipes for Easy Living, and with a bowl of very unseasonal cherries on the cover. It wasn’t until years later when I secured the rights to the book and reread it that I realized it was thoroughly a Christmas story. It is now reprinted as it should have been in the beginning: Christmas Comes to Valentine.

When I look at these three books now, I see clearly that the heroines in each of the stories take hold of hope enough to set aside their troubles and the hard realities of their lives and determine to give their children a warm-hearted, magical Christmas.
The beginning of chapter one in Christmas Comes to Valentine reads: “The spirit that attacks everyone at Christmas time and makes them long for home and family attacked Corrine’s mother and kindled in her the gumption to reenter her daughter’s life.”
Reading that sentence after so many years, I’m struck with the realization that those hopeful women characters were drawn much from my mother.

Mama had experienced a lot of disappointment and chaos when growing up, and as an adult made poor choices, especially in men, so the disappointments and chaos kept on. Mama was depressed a lot of the time, yet not at Christmas. At Christmas, Mama did just what my characters do. She set aside all troubles and embraced the hope of the season.

Mama believed in the miracles of Christmas. It was Mama who taught me the Christmas story from a young age, so that I can’t remember a time I did not know it, and believe it. Christmas was a miracle, and in Mama’s and my world, miracles were indeed possible at this time of year.
Not that Mama baked much, as do the heroines in my novels, and I recall only one Christmas when we children were young that she ever attempted to make ornaments. She would cook up a big dinner, with much of it coming out of a can and none of it inspired.

Mama loved Christmas carols on the radio—swing Big Band style, which I still enjoy—and later in my teens, when we finally had a reliable television, Mama and I watched every sappy Christmas old movie and program. Two weeks before Christmas, the tree—a real tree—went up with many ornaments from her childhood and tons of tinsel. Mama always hung a large silver ornament on a bottom branch and encouraged my brother and I to lay beneath it and look at the magical reflections of the colorful lights.
Wrapped presents would appear beneath the tree in the days leading up to the big day. There would be many small ones, because Mama knew the magic of opening a surprise. She continued this practice into her old age for her grandchildren. The tiniest thing—a roll of Lifesaver candies, a single miniature car, bottle of bubbles—she took time and trouble to wrap by itself. I think Mama had the most joy watching a child tear open the wrapping.

Never a disciplinarian, Mama had a strong rule for Christmas morning: “When you wake up, do not go into the living room. You come get us first.”

The result is that I remember my mother’s excitement, when, with it still pitch black outside, we would creep to our parents’ beside, give Mama’s side a shake and beg for her and daddy to get up. Even though blurry-eyed and likely hungover, Mama would pop out of the bed, “Come on, Harold…come on.” She had to be the first into the living room so that she could see our faces when we beheld the array of toys that Santa had brought.

And it was an array. Our grandparents would have sent Mama money, and in addition, Mama, in her enthusiasm and denial of problems, and in her great desires for her children, would have gone into debt buying it all.
I’m grateful now for the writing that brings up these memories, and the years of experience that provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of my mother. I see more clearly two great gifts my mother gave me are the knowledge and love of the miracle that is Christmas and the ability to grasp shreds of hope in dark times, when I need it most.

May you have a very merry Christmas!

Christmas comes to Valentine, and everyone has a secret desire…

Curtiss Ann Matlock is an American writer of thirty-seven novels, three of which are Christmas stories. She resides in south Alabama, where she is busy with family, writing, gardening, and RVing. You can connect with her at her website:

Her latest release is According to Carley Love.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Christmas Surprises by Carol James

Christmas is a time of joyous surprises. In The Hope of Christmas, Kristin stumbles upon a surprise she never anticipated. Something that might change her world forever.

And I can relate…

Surrounded by those I hoped would be part of my family one day, I sat on the floor of my boyfriend’s parents’ house as he offered me a stack of four wrapped Christmas gifts. “Open the red one last,” he said, “because it’s something you’ve already seen. We bought it together.”

It’s hard to surprise me. I’m generally pretty good at picking up on the signs, and I like to think that, with years of practice, I’ve perfected the “surprised recipient response.” Not to deceive, but because surprises are as much for the giver as the receiver. I love watching the enjoyment people experience when they believe they’ve “gotten” me. 

That Christmas Eve, the gifts were all opened when I realized I’d only unwrapped three boxes. The fourth one, the one that held the mysterious item I’d already seen, was missing. After a cursory search, my boyfriend “found” it under the edge of the couch. At first I was embarrassed to be the center of attention, to have everyone watching as I unwrapped the previously seen gift, but I had no choice but to proceed.

As nonchalantly as possible, I opened the small box that promised to hold something uneventful, so we could get on with the rest of our Christmas celebrations. As I parted the tissue paper, I was greeted by a black felt tale mounted on gray velveteen. A stuffed Eeyore. I grinned. “Wrap this up, and give it to me for Christmas,” I’d said when we’d taken pity on the sad fellow and purchased him weeks earlier during a holiday shopping escapade.

I laughed as I slowly slid him from the box, and his forlorn eyes looked up at me. “I’d forgotten all about…” My words froze. As something around Eeyore’s neck sparkled, his face seemed to glow in the warm lights of the Christmas tree. Tonight he was dressed festively, wearing jewelry. A diamond engagement ring. Words can’t begin to describe my surprise and joy.

Christmas has always been a time of gifts and surprises, even if it’s something we anticipate, something we know is coming. On the night of the first Christmas, to say the shepherds were surprised by the angels is an understatement. Even though God had told them the Messiah was coming, I’ll bet they didn’t expect it to be “that” night. They were the recipients of the greatest Christmas surprise of all time.

That ring is still on the finger where my now husband placed it on that Christmas Eve fifty-one years ago. And Eeyore, having grown faded and tailless over the years, has a place of importance on the shelf in my office. They are reminders of one of the best Christmas gifts I ever received.

The greatest? Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” I Corinthians 9:15

The Hope of Christmas Blurb:

Cameron Blake has everything a man could want. Or so it appears. But in the dark of night, the contents of an old manila envelope remind him that the one thing he truly wants is beyond his reach.

Kristin Hansen returns home after a messy break-up. While her parents think she' s returned to recuperate after surgery on a broken arm, she' s actually escaping from an abusive relationship.

When the pastor of a local church recruits Kristin and Cameron to supervise the building of the church' s float for the upcoming Christmas parade, their hidden secrets are exposed. Cam sees in Kristin what he truly desires... but knows he can never have.

As Christmas nears, can Kristin help him find the thing that' s eluded him all these years? The one thing his heart truly desires? Hope.

Buy Link:


I will give away one e-copy of my newest Christmas novella, The Hope of Christmas, to one of the people who comment on the blog. I just need email addresses.


As an Air Force brat, the longest Carol James ever lived in one place was a year and a half. Maybe that’s why, when she and her husband bought their first home forty-two years ago, they stayed put. She lives in Lilburn, GA with her husband, Jim, and a perky Jack Russell Terrier, Zoe.

Loving intriguing stories with happy endings, she writes Redemptive Romance. She has had five full length novels and six Christmas novellas published. Her debut novel, Rescuing Faith, was an Amazon number one best-seller. Visit her website to sign up for her newsletter and get a free short story:

Carol James

Monday, November 27, 2023

Grandma's Slippers by Cathy Shouse

During the holidays when I think about gift-giving, I remember Grandma’s slippers. Grandma lived past 101. Until her last few years, she gave all the women and girls in the family hand knitted or crocheted slippers at Christmas every year.

Having such a long life, I was in awe of her anyway. But as I grew up, I continued to be inspired by how productive she was. One of my aunts has been posting Grandma’s diary entries on Facebook for our family. We are all amazed at what Grandma accomplished in her daily activities. She’d write down when she baked cookies, quilted, and all kinds of activities.

You might think receiving the gift of handmade slippers every year would get old. And the way our current culture seems to thrive on the stimulation of new, fancier things, is something I’ll save for a post for another day. But my experience of getting the slippers never wore thin. I would open mine with anticipation, wondering what colors my slippers would be made of that year. If memory serves me correctly, they came in a shoebox. At least once, Grandma tucked in a pamphlet on positive thinking or a little calendar with faith messages, and her beliefs have stayed with me as well.

I think the reason the slippers were always welcome is partly because those gifts were made with so much love. I liked to think she thought about each one of us as she created them. Just the quantity alone that she produced amazed me. Those slippers were like getting a hug wrapped up in a Christmas gift. And I wore them all the time.

Just thinking of Grandma’s twinkling eyes and sweet smile as we opened our presents is such a strong memory that my eyes cloud over a bit with tears. She looked like a Mrs. Santa Claus, only tiny and more fragile as the years went on. I’m reminded that the wonderful people in our lives, both in the present and in the past, are the true gifts at Christmas.

What is also sweet to me today is that I’m close to all of my cousins. They received those slippers as gifts, too. I’d estimate at one time, 14 females in the family received them each year. While preparing this essay, I reached out to my cousins by email and asked if those slippers were special to them as well.

Judy said, “I have no slippers left but great memories of wearing them to shreds, then trying to darn them! O, Grandma’s treasures!”

Several sent photos of their slippers and so did my sister and my aunt. It was as though we all had a moment to cherish what was and what we had, so very long ago.

Grandma’s been gone since 1999. As I think of what gifts I’m giving this year, I wonder how I could put more of myself into them, not just go to the store or get online. I’m thinking of maybe doing some writings of memories my kids may want to read from me some day.

No matter what we’re giving this year, maybe the way we live our lives is also a gift to others. I know that was the case with Grandma. Her lifestyle gave me something to aspire to. She did a lot more than needlework, too. She went to Hawaii when she was 80! Maybe I’ll even get there one day.

What is a memorable gift you’ve received? Why was it special? 

 Cathy Shouse
He’s an international journalist back home because of his father’s will. She’s returned home to run her family’s struggling history museum. When Gage and Bree cross paths at the small-town diner, he’s struck by her son’s resemblance to him.

Gage Galloway never fit in with the farm community he grew up in or his brothers who all wanted families. When he returns home to Fair Creek, he’s already itching to get back to his thrilling career.

Single mom Bree Murphy is back in Fair Creek to save her family’s history museum. After having her baby five years ago, she was forced to give up on reaching the baby’s dad to tell him.

Gage and Bree were best friends and his secret crush on her made for unexpected circumstances when they said goodbye years ago.

So when Gage strolls in unannounced and runs into Bree and her son, she’s scrambling for what to say to explain things.

Before she does, her former best friend studies Trey and asks, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Can Gage and Bree renew their friendship and work through what’s happened? Can Gage change his mind about having a family, and embrace fatherhood and be with Bree? Or will their philosophies that kept them in the friend zone break his heart if he wants more from her?


Cathy Shouse writes inspirational cowboy romances. Her Fair Creek series, set in Indiana, features the Galloway brothers of Galloway Farms. Much like the characters in her stories, Cathy once lived on a farm in “small town” Indiana, where she first fell in love with cowboys while visiting the rodeo every summer. Please visit for more information on discounts and new releases or to sign up for her newsletter.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Life Changes by Lucinda Race

In 2022 my life changed in a way I hadn’t expected. I had time to fill and needed to have a new challenge. At this point in my writing career, I had written and released over 20 romance novels. I love writing romance, but I was and still am a huge cozy mystery fan. It all started with Nancy Drew…and then Agatha Christie.

I wanted to try and write a cozy and I read craft books on how to write a captivating cozy mystery. Based on expert advice, it seemed I needed to create an outline and plan for my book, but I’m what’s called a pantser when I write. I don’t have each chapter planned in advance. Typically, I have character names and a rough idea for the setting and dive right in. This time, to keep my motivation high, I bought four-cozy mystery covers in a premade sale. They were sitting in a folder on my desktop. I’d open the file from time to time and look at them, hoping for inspiration to strike. Finally, I said to my daughters, "I’m going to try and write these stories."

With my fingers poised over the keys, and the occasional look at the cover for book one, I began typing. This was the hardest book I had ever written. A true cozy mystery has likable characters, a charming setting, and, of course, a murder.

As I began to write, letting the characters guide me, I’d have to stop and go back in the book to add a clue or two. Or change something to hopefully keep the reader engaged. Then the editing process was also more challenging. I wrote all the clues down to make sure they made sense by the end of the book. After I finished Book 1, I kept writing, and over the Christmas break, I wrote Book 4, Scares & Dares, which is my Halloween-themed cozy.

But the entire time I was writing the first 4 books in the Bookstore Cozy Mystery Series I had already begun to think about this Christmas cozy, Holidays & Homicide.

I grew up in a small town with amazing friends and my family, not unlike Pembroke Cove, my setting for the books. Well, except for the overabundance of murders and witches, of course. In my hometown, we had a charming town square, a tree-lighting ceremony, caroling, and amazing Christmas cookies. The only element missing was the skating rink, but being a writer, I just added that in. After all, it’s what writers do: change the setting to fit our story.

I’m thrilled with the end result, and I’m happy to say at this point, I’ve written three more books in this series, to be released next year. However, when I sat down to write this blog post, it’s three days before Thanksgiving. Miss Muse is poking me, and I think there will be a Thanksgiving-themed cozy mystery for 2024. Stay tuned… But if you’d like to purchase a copy of Holidays & Homicide just click this link.

Thank you for joining me today. I wish you and your family a joyous holiday season filled with love and happiness.

Happy reading and don’t forget to sparkle.

Lucinda Race

Award-winning and best-selling author Lucinda Race is a lifelong fan of fiction. As a young girl, she spent hours reading mystery and romance novels and getting lost in the fun and hope they represent. While her friends dreamed of becoming doctors and engineers, her dreams were to become a writer—a novelist.
As life twisted and turned, she found herself writing nonfiction but longed to turn to her true passion. After developing the storyline for the McKenna Family Romance series, it was time to start living her dream. Her fingers practically fly over computer keys she weaves stories about with mystery and happily ever afters.

Lucinda lives with her two little dogs, a miniature long hair dachshund and a shitzu mix rescue, in the rolling hills of western Massachusetts. When she's not at her day job, she’s immersed in her fictional worlds. And if she’s not writing mystery, suspense and romance novels, she’s reading everything she can get her hands on.

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Saturday, November 25, 2023

Santa Claus and Dad by Charley Sutton

 Frank Townsend
Back around 1938, my uncle Frank asked Santa for a bicycle for Christmas. He had been good all year and couldn’t wait to open his new bicycle. When Christmas Day came, the bicycle didn’t. My uncle looked outside, and the neighbor kid was riding the new bicycle that Santa should have gotten him.
He was devastated, because he was much better behaved than the neighbor kid. As he sat and cried by the window, grandpa asked him what was wrong. When uncle Frank told him that Santa wasn’t fair, he told his son the truth. He didn’t get the bicycle, because grandpa couldn’t afford it. He was much better behaved than the neighbor, but the neighbor’s dad made more money than grandpa did. 

My grandpa never told another of his children that their presents were from Santa. My mom never told me or my sister that Santa delivered our presents, either. I never shared my thoughts about Santa with my friends at school, because the tradition of Santa was important to some people, and I was taught not to trample on the traditions of others.

 I still remember an eleven year old girl crying all day after finding out from a classmate that Santa didn’t deliver her Christmas presents. I thought it was just as cruel of her parents for not telling her the truth as it was cruel of the child for telling her the truth.

Fast forward to my role in Christmas as a parent. My wife and I were raised at two different ends of the Christmas spectrum.

Sutton family Christmases were a short two week period that lasted from around December 10th to the 25th. The tree went up and ten to fifteen days later, on Christmas night, it came down. Santa was a small part of our tradition. The Christmas specials were the extent of my and my sister’s Santa exposure. The presents went under the tree the moment it went up labeled from mom and dad. 

The Swihart family Christmases that my wife celebrated began the day after Thanksgiving and ended on New Years Day. The tree went up, the fireplace was put together, stockings were placed, and ceramic figures were posed in every room. Presents went under the tree late Christmas Eve when Santa came calling. New Years Day came, and all the decorations went back into storage. 

Our marriage demanded a marriage of traditions. She wanted Santa to deliver presents, and I did not. A compromise was reached. Santa would make the toys, but I had to send him money for materials. Santa could get all the wood he needed for free, but parents had to buy the plastic and metal needed for toys that kids ask for today. Once Santa received the things he needed, the elves would build the toys, and Santa would deliver them on Christmas Eve. 

"Yes, Garrett, there is a Santa Claus. I drive him to work each day."

Garrett Sutton
While in Walmart when my son was six, he told me he wanted a battery powered scooter that was just under five hundred dollars. I told him that I didn’t think I could afford to send Santa the amount of money needed to buy the materials to make it. He asked if we could put it on the list just in case. I told him he could. 

He ran a few feet down the aisle and added a dozen more items to his mental list. A woman walked up to me and asked what I told my son about the scooter. I explained that Santa needing money for supplies made me the one to blame if my son didn’t get what he wanted for Christmas. It wasn’t based on just his behavior. My ability to pay for materials was also a factor. I never wanted my kids to feel like my uncle Frank did on Christmas morning all those years ago. 

My son held onto his childhood belief a little longer than my daughter. He knew the truth, but didn’t want to trample on his mom’s traditions. He let her believe that he believed for two years after he figured out the details of delivery. 

Whatever your traditions are and however you celebrate the holidays, I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas.

Charley is a maintenance technician from Peru, Indiana. An avid reader for as long as he can remember, he's always aspired to write. He has put pen to paper for almost as long. As he grows older, finding the time to write gets easier. F
ind him on Facebook.

Friday, November 24, 2023

All I Want for Christmas... by Debby Myers


At my age I’ve seen many holiday seasons. However, I have one that will forever stand out in my memories. It was December 1989.

During this particular Christmas season, I found myself uncomfortable, unbearable, and unable to really enjoy it. I was nine months pregnant with my son, whose due date was Christmas day.

To give you some background, my oldest daughter was due on February 18th, but by March 18th when she hadn’t come, and I could barely get up out of a chair, my doctor induced my labor. Forty hours later she arrived--March 22nd.  My next daughter was due on June 20th, but she came early on May 13th after only two hours of labor. This time I felt like with my son, he’d arrive right on time. However, as all women who’ve had a child know, babies are very unpredictable.

Back then not much Christmas shopping was done online. I found myself miserable every time I went. I guess I was fortunate the girls were just six and three, and I knew they wouldn’t notice that I just couldn’t get in the spirit. Or that they didn’t get much that year.

Another tradition I’d had with them was putting up the tree and helping them hang up the ornaments. That December, it was my husband who put the tree up, and it sat undecorated for a week before I finally got out the ornaments and put them on myself one at a time, very slowly, one night while the girls slept.

There was no decorating the front porch or baking Christmas cookies. I couldn’t even bring myself to do anything more than get the wrapping paper on the presents, when I usually enjoyed decorating each one. I kept thinking it was the worst Christmas ever for me and my girls.

I went to my oldest daughter Tiffany’s Christmas program at school. There was no way I could get my huge body on the bleachers, so I stood with my back hurting and my feet swelling, hanging onto my younger daughter’s hand. One of the teachers saw me and offered to bring me a chair, but the truth was, the only chair I fit in was the huge recliner in my living room.

On Christmas eve, I managed to travel with my husband and two young daughters to celebrate with my mother’s side of the family at her home. When everyone else ate, I was too nauseous. As everyone opened gifts, I found myself in her bathroom stripping down and getting into a hot bath to soak my aching tailbone. As my daughters waited in anticipation to open gifts, I waited in anticipation for this baby to exit my body.

Christmas day, his due date, came and went. I found myself crying all evening. On the 26th when he didn’t come, I didn’t get out of bed much and the tears came again. Why was I so emotional? I knew he was healthy and had flipped in the birth canal. I knew it wouldn’t be much longer, but gee whiz, little guy, you’ve got to hurry up!

On the morning of 27th of December, I was lying down on the sofa watching the girls playing with their Cabbage Patch dolls and Puff-a-Lumps. As I watched and saw their smiles and heard their giggles, my heart swelled with love. Having my children is, no doubt, one of the most fulfilling experiences in life. I think it was those two little girls that kept my tears away that day.

My husband left for work at 3 pm. I waddled around making the girls dinner, getting them bathed, and tucked them in at 8 pm. I went back to the sofa to watch TV. I ended up falling asleep too.

At 9:15 I jolted straight up as the first labor pain startled me awake. Then another at 9:21. It was finally happening! I called my mother-in-law. She rushed over, woke up the girls, called my husband, and drove me to the hospital. The contractions were now four minutes apart.

I’ll skip all the details and get right to it. Derek Jordan was born at 10:25 am on December 28th, weighing in at 8 lbs, 3 oz. The nurse joked with me that I’d gotten him in just in time to claim him on our taxes! Even though it was the 28th, I still consider him my Christmas baby.

Being born just three days after, we still celebrate his birthday when all the family is together at Christmastime. When he was five, he asked me “Mama, why don’t I ever get balloons on my birthday like my sisters?” It was one of the negatives about his birthday. No birthday parties with friends because they were all out of school on Christmas break. And balloons at Christmas?  But that year, we filled his room with 18 balloons. Three for that year and three for every year we’d missed.

In conclusion, even when we sometimes feel like it’s one of our worst times, it can quickly become one of the best. Derek is the reason why the Christmas of ’89 is one I’ll remember as being the best for the rest of my life!

Debby Myers has enjoyed writing since she was a little girl. She has just completed her third novel, the last installment of “The Vee Trilogy.”

In her spare time she directs plays for Ole Olsen Memorial Theater. She is a member of the Indiana Thespians judging high school theater competitions. Debby’s favorite pastime of all is spending time with her nine grandchildren.

Her books are all available now on Amazon or get a signed copy directly from her by contacting her on her Facebook page “The Vee Trilogy.” 

Debby Myers

Thursday, November 23, 2023

We Gather Together... by Liz Flaherty

Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you and yours have the best of holidays.

I've given myself an ear worm this morning, so the least I can do is share it. The first verse of my favorite hymn of this week. 

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;

He chastens and hastens His will to make known;

the wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.

Sing praises to His name, He forgets not His own.

Tomorrow begins the second annual Window Holidays, when a new guest appears like magic--yeah, right--at the Window Over the Sink every morning at 2:00. I hope you visit us with your coffee each day and make the bloggers welcome with comments and shares. 

For local readers, or those interested in a road trip, nine Indiana authors will be selling and signing books at Whyte Horse Winery and Bistro on December 2 from 2-4 PM. Take a Christmas-shopping break and join us for a while. There will be a giveaway (must be present to win) and I guarantee at least nine of us will be up for some conversation. 

Have a great week. Eat well. Be nice to somebody. 

Saturday, November 18, 2023

On Giving by Liz Flaherty

I hope you have such a wonderful Thanksgiving this coming week. There are so many things going on! I started to list them here, along with stolen pictures, but there were too many. Go to this Facebook page and pick out some things to do!

Start with the Open House and keep going! There is music to be found, lessons to take, and pretty things to look at. There is food--it's the holidays; of course, there's food!--and friendship at every corner. 

Craft shows are happening every weekend and every swing choir around does wonderful shows. 

I love the holidays, however...

On the serious side of things, is this season a hard time for you? Loss, heartache, loneliness, and not feeling well are heavy burdens. Even if you are a loner, it's not a good time for that. It is a good time to be a joiner. If you're a believer, find a church--all their doors are open--and keep looking until you feel at home in a place of grace. If you're a helper, find places to volunteer. Join Extension Homemakers ((765) 472-1921) and support 4-H. If you're a giver, find where there is need. 

If you are the one in need, go to a food pantry or call 211 if you need direction to where to find help. St. Vincent de Paul's number is (765) 472-1855. Helping Hands number is (765) 472 - 1875. Area Five Agency on Aging & Community Services is at 661 E Main Street, Peru, IN. Their phone number is 765-472-0713. The number for WIC is 765-472-7714. If you have a baby and trouble meeting the financial demands, Birthright is 765-475-0706. 

As a north county resident (go, Warriors!), I have a huge soft spot for things that benefit our community. Amy Eckrote, who brilliantly and tirelessly heads up the Macy food pantry, shared this when I asked what the greatest needs were.

Frozen and canned meat is always a need. 
Toilet paper 
Things we take for granted!

But I won’t turn anything down that is donated. If I can’t use it, I will find someone that can! Make checks to Macy Community Boosters with Food Pantry in the memo and mail to me: Amy Eckrote, 14439 N 100 W, Macy, IN 46951

I have no doubt her list could be replicated by any administrator of any food pantry anywhere. Please feel free to share ideas and places that either need donations or are offering help to others. Please give.

What I've said here is just the beginning, but help is there if you need it. Do I make it sound too easy because I'm not the one in need? I don't mean to. I know asking for help can be hard. 

The other side of that? I know not judging people who seem always to be on the asking side can be hard, too. Being held responsible for what appears to be the poor choices of others gets wearing. 

None of us knows what it's like to walk in anyone else's shoes, but we all know what it's like when someone helps to make that walk more comfortable. 

Have a great week, a great holiday season. Be kind, be generous, be nice to somebody. 

Like last year, we're having Window Holidays starting the day after Thanksgiving. There will be a guest post every day through New Year's Eve. I hope you come by every day and make the visitors welcome. - Liz

Monday, November 13, 2023

Christmas in River's Edge by Nan Reinhardt

I can’t imagine doing a book release without my bestie, Liz. She’s my support, my best critic, my cheerleader, and my kindred spirit, so I’m delighted to spend a moment or two here at the Window Over the Sink to tell you about Christmas in River’s Edge—book 3 in the Weaver Sisters trilogy.

When Tule asked me if I could include a Christmas story in the Weaver Sisters trilogy, I wanted to make sure it included a child, so of course, Jenny’s story became the holiday romance. Jenny’s eight-year-old son Luke steals the show in this book, and he comes from my own Grandboy who is eleven now and continues to steal my heart every time I see him. Luke is small, big-hearted, charming, full of curiosity, and not terribly athletic, but gifted in other ways. Luke’s dad, Tuff, is an alcoholic who’s created a lot of problems for Jenny and Luke, but throughout the story, there is no question how much he loves his son. It was important to me—perhaps because I came from a divorced home and had an absent father—that no matter what Tuff’s personal issues were, Luke always knew his Dad loved him without reservation.

Jenny worries about bringing another man into their lives, but archeologist and professor, Gabe Dawson is exactly what she and Luke need. He is warm and kind and fun, and he respects the boundaries Jenny must set because she is a single mom with an ex-husband very much in the picture. Gabe’s relationship with Luke is exactly right—he doesn’t want to take Tuff’s place, but he discovers he can love Luke like a son and be there for him and Jenny without interfering in the father/son relationship that Luke and Tuff share. I think that’s a hard thing, as all family dynamics are, but Gabe navigates it all with dignity, which is why he one of my very favorite characters in River’s Edge.

Is there redemption for Tuff? Maybe…that remains to be seen. But Jenny, Luke, and Gabe become a family, and isn’t family what we celebrate at the holidays? I hope you enjoy coming home for Christmas in River’s Edge.

❄❄❄❄ Blurb ❄❄❄❄

You can go home again…

After a painful divorce from her high school sweetheart, triplet Jenny Weaver returns to River’s Edge with her young son. While happy to be reunited with her sisters and working at the family’s marina, she has no intention of jumping into the dating pool, especially going into the holidays. Then Gabe Dawson, once a shy nerd who tutored her in history classes, arrives home transformed into a handsome hunk who makes her pulse race.

Archeologist and history professor Gabe Dawson thought he’d long ago outgrown his teen crush on Jenny. Back in town for a few months to help his mom post surgery, he can’t resist reaching out to Jenny. She’s as beautiful, warm, and funny as he remembered and soon Gabe is reconsidering his future.

Gabe is determined to seize this second chance, but can he convince a very wary Jenny that a globe-trotter is ready to come home for good this Christmas?

Buy links:

❄❄❄❄ Bio, Social Links for Author Nan Reinhardt ❄❄❄❄

Nan Reinhardt is a USA Today bestselling author of sweet, small-town romantic fiction for Tule Publishing. Her day job is working as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader, however, writing is Nan’s first and most enduring passion. She can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t writing—she wrote her first romance novel at the age of ten and is still writing, but now from the viewpoint of a wiser, slightly rumpled, woman in her prime. Nan lives in the Midwest with her husband of 50 years, where they split their time between a house in the city and a cottage on a lake.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

The Poppies Still Grow by Liz Flaherty

I've been writing pieces of this for...I don't know...years. It was only a year ago when I posted it last. I'm sorry to do a rerun so quickly, but not really sorry at all because I offer it up again with thanks to those who have served and who still bear the scars from that service. And with thanks to those who are serving now. 

 The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

A few years back, the fifth graders at my grandson’s school performed their annual Veterans Day salute. They sang and shook hands with veterans in the audience. There was a long slide show of pictures of mothers and fathers and grandfathers and other relatives who had served in the armed forces. I thought my eyes would never get dry. After watching the program, I tried to put into words how I feel, how proud and grateful I am that so many have served so long and so well.

Except I didn’t have any new words, though my eyes are leaking again as I write this introduction to a tribute I still feel.

John Thomas and Amos Ash were residents of Miami County, Indiana. They fought with the 20th Regiment of Indiana. They died at Gettysburg in 1863.

Uncle Mart was ten years older than Aunt Ethel. They were married forever, but they never had any children. That always seemed odd to me, but it really wasn’t. They adored each other and never needed anyone else; they were a complete family unit unto themselves. He was bald and funny and liked to fish. He served in the first World War. The Big One, some people said.

I don’t remember what his name was, but he and his parents were visiting my family when something happened and they had to return to their South Bend home at once because he had to catch the next train back to his duty station. The day was December 7, 1941, long before I was born, but I still remember the empty look on Mom’s face when she told the story.

Thadd was a baker in the navy during that war, the second of the World Wars. The one
more people called The Big One. A couple of years after he came home, Thadd and Mary got married and they had five kids.

His name was Wayne. I was at his going-away party before he left for Vietnam. He was young and smart and eager to serve his country. There was a girl at the party who looked at him with soft eyes. We laughed a lot, had a good time, and wished him luck when we left. We were used to it, I suppose, to saying goodbye and hoping for the chance to say hello when they came back home, so we didn’t give it that much thought.

Wayne, though, and Mike Waymire and John Miller, to name but a few, came home in flag-draped coffins. We watched the news, read the papers, wept. We remembered smooth-faced, laughing boys and mourned with the wives and girlfriends and mothers who would never feel the same again, with fathers silent and stoic in their grief. We acknowledged empty places and heard remembered laughter and voices echo through them.

I married the second of Thadd and Mary’s kids after he came home from Vietnam. Like the Korean Conflict, no one ever called it The Big War, but to the ones who served there, and the ones who waited at home, they were big enough. Long enough. Sad enough.

When Desert Storm happened our son Chris was stateside, wearing the army uniform his father had.

We watched and waited and feared and prayed. It was the same with Iraq. With Afghanistan. With all the other wars and conflicts and skirmishes where Americans have served.
My grandson Skyler is 18, a senior in high school. He spent the summer in basic training. He's our handsome, sweet boy and even though he wears a uniform well, it makes my heart clutch seeing him in it. He has walked and talked and breathed military since he was eight years old so I shouldn't have been surprised when he was ready to enlist, but I wasn't ready for it. He wants to serve and I want to make him cookies--I suppose it is the same with all young military men and their mothers and grandmothers.

In October of 2010, the city of Logansport, Indiana welcomed Sgt. Kenneth K. McAnich home. The hearse drove slow and solemn through streets lined with flags and people, the Patriot Guard riding protective escort against those who might not be respectful. It’s symbolic, this ceremonial farewell we offer our fallen warriors. I’m sure it does little to fill the echoing empty places created by their deaths. But it’s all we can do.

My husband remembers how people looked at him in airports when he came home from Vietnam. How they sneered and then looked away. I saw the same thing in Indianapolis, when among the celebratory crowds coming home at Christmastime walked a lone soldier, carrying his duffel bag and staring straight ahead. Over forty years later, those who served in Vietnam know it wasn’t them people hated; it was the war. But they still remember.

We all hate war. All of us. Thank goodness we’ve learned how to welcome home those who fight in them. We’ve learned to applaud them in airports and on planes, to buy their lunch once in a while if they’re behind us at the cashier’s station, to say thank you and mean it. 

That’s why November 11 is Veterans Day. It is not a day of celebration, although rejoicing in freedom is probably never wrong. It is instead a day of remembrance and honor to the men and women who have for nearly 240 years and who continue to serve in the preservation of that freedom. Thank you to all of you. God bless you. God bless America.

Have a good week.  Be nice to somebody.