I have fellow HCRW and TWRP author Laura Browning with me today. Welcome to my blog, Laura and congrats on your new release, Santa’s Helper.
In the midst of edits on an upcoming release, trying to finish another WIP and promoting Santa’s Helper, catching the Christmas spirit has been a challenge this year.
It really wasn’t until last night that it dawned on me why decorating the tree is one of my favorite activities. My teenager, for whom high-tech is a watchword, looked at the tree and said, “Why do you keep all of these old ornaments? Why don’t you get some new ones?”
To which I replied, “Each one of those ornaments holds a memory.”
Sure, I have the requisite number of store-bought decorative balls, the ones that come in the packs of six or twelve, but along with that is the stuffed elf that’s nestled amidst the branches because its hanger has long since disappeared—the very first ornament I received at the age of five. In another spot is a small black horse with a “real” mane and tail. I purchased that during a trip to a botanical garden and zoo when I was six. There are ornaments to commemorate pets, and ornaments that my son made in elementary school. There is an angel my father-in-law gave me that has a tag proclaiming “Class of 1937.” Each year when I put it in a prominent spot near the top of the tree, I remember the man who would slip me “a spot of money, just in case you want to make a pie and need to buy some apples.”
I still smile when I think about that.
My tree might not look like an interior decorator designed it. It certainly doesn’t have any “theme” to it—unless you count the memories of loved ones past and present—and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So last year, when I decided to write a Christmas story, I wanted to touch on themes that matter to me. In this case, a man raising money for charity for all the wrong reasons, and a woman scrambling for money for all the right reasons. That’s how Santa’s Helper, my holiday release from The Wild Rose Press, evolved.
Jack and Merry meet while he’s ringing the bell outside a mall after losing a bet, and she’s rushing in to a part-time job as a Santa’s elf, trying to provide some kind of Christmas for her young son.
Here’s an excerpt from Santa’s Helper:
Merry sipped her coffee and angled her head at him. “You know, the first night I saw you, you didn’t look like the bell ringer type. And even though you’ve changed out of the fancy clothes, you still don’t look the type. How did you end up doing it…and doing it every night?”
Jack laughed. “I lost a bet with my employees and had to take over all their shifts.”
He watched in fascination as color stained her creamy cheeks. “Well, I’m glad. I’ve liked being able to bring you coffee and getting to know you.”
“I have another week, Merry.”
Her eyes widened. Was that hope he saw there? Gladness? “You do?”
He nodded before touching the delicate skin inside her wrist. “I want to kiss you. Will you let me?”
He watched her hesitate, and then she nodded. He smiled and scooped the last bit of brownie and ice
cream. “Here. It’s yours.” Her eyes held his as she slid the sweet from the spoon. Jack dropped the spoon into the bowl. “Let’s go,” he growled.
I’d love to hear some of your holiday memories. Leave a comment. You can also check out my website: www.laurabrowningbooks.com
for a look at some of my other releases. Most of all – I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.
christine warner said:
I love the premise of your book…great excerpt!Had to chuckle at your sons comment about buying new ornaments. My kids have said the same thing, and I've given your same answer. I know one day they'll "get it", but it is a grin for now.Happy Holidays and congrats on your new release 🙂
Lilly Gayle said:
Thanks for stopping by Christine. I love my tree with all its old "ornaments."Love your cover, Laura. Thanks so much for sharing your Christmas tradition and your book on my blog today.
Beth Caudill said:
I love pulling out all my old ornaments with memories. The kids love putting their school ornaments on the tree. Congrats on the new release.
Donna Steele said:
Wonderful excerpt – trimming the tree is something my daughter and I always do together. I have finally come up with separate boxes for the ornaments I've given the kids over the years, because they are theirs and may someday take them to their own homes Merry Christmas and congratulations!
Lilly Gayle said:
Beth, when my daugthers were little, they were always making ornaments. One year, they made several all by themselves. They were awful but my babies made them so on the tree they went…toward the back. My tree was in front of the window so I told my girls they were so pretty, I wanted people driving by the house to be able to see them through the window. My girls and I laugh about that now. One of the "ornaments" was Santa drawn on notebook paper. A pipe cleaner was shoved through the top of the paper and looped for the hanger. I wouldn't hang that one on my tree now, but I wish it had survived over the years. Sadly, silverfish love notebook paper and I had silverfish in my attic.
Our Christmas tree is decorated with ornaments that were handmade or passed down throughout the years. We have a set of 4 cardinals with real feathers that belonged to my grandmother. Up until last year, they looked like new. Now 2 of them have a few less feathers thanks to my cat. (Last year was her first Christmas. She loved batting the ornaments off and attacking them.) This year the cardinals are all near the very top, out of reach of the cat. I hope. Loved your excerpt. I'm adding Santa's Helper to my TBR list.
Lilly Gayle said:
Too funny, Katherine. I have 2 white doves with real feathers that were my grandmothers. My daughter's cat is 4 and each year, we place those birds higher and higher and deeper and deeper inside the tree. And yet somehow, Cha Cha still finds them. One is missing his beak, the other is missing his feet and they're both a few feathers shy of a full tail, but they're going back in my tree next year. Maybe Cha Cha will be bored with them by then. lol!
Susan Macatee said:
I have a lot of those old memory ornaments, too. Ones my boys made in pre-school, kindergarten and in grade school. Ornaments my mom bought me that I treasure now she's no longer with us. And two that commenorate passed pets. I enjoy putting those ornaments on my tree every year. Don't need any new fancy ones. Only new ones that create future memories.Enjoyed the excerpt. Sounds like a great story.
Andris Bear said:
Hey ladies! Love the excerpt–I enjoy reading Holiday themed books because they always put me in the mood for that holiday. Each year I buy my babes one new ornament to add to the tree–sometimes I let them pick it, sometimes I surprise them, but each year brings new memories and so we get a new ornament.
Laura Browning said:
What a treat to hear about everyone's memories also hanging on their trees! Little does my son know it, but he's already got two ornaments hanging that will go with him whenever he sets up his own household. I wonder if he'll think they're "old" then.Thanks for the wonderful opportunity to blog with you today, Lilly…and happy holidays!
Calisa Rhose said:
Nice excerpt, Laura. Loved the holiday memories.
Lilly Gayle said:
Thanks for posting today, Laura. It was a great holiday post and I was desperately in need of a good one. And your cover has such nice eye candy on it. lolo!