Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Monday, December 31, 2012

We've Moved!

Beginning January 1, 2013 

Stop by and let us know what you think of the new look! 
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2012



Random Thoughts On Flying Elephants, Winged Horses, and Reindeer

I’ve always had a thing about flying. As a child I cheered for Dumbo, who proved he didn’t need anyone else’s approval or even a magic feather to soar. You see, Dumbo was a little different. His ears were too big. This made him an object of ridicule but he silenced his tormenters in the end by believing in himself, just the way he was. That’s a struggle I understand, gut level, and a path I’ve trod.

How I longed as a child to soar with Peter Pan to a land of strange and wonderful adventures where children didn’t have to grow up. Looking back as an adult with grown-up responsibilities, I sometimes wonder if Peter wasn’t on to something. There will always be a part of me that holds out for Neverland.

Oh, to ride Pegasus as he unfurled his wings across the sky! The haze of centuries gone by only added to the appeal of this bearer of thunder and lightning who had only to strike a hoof to the ground to create a spring from which ran poetry.

Perhaps with such influences on my younger self, it was inevitable I would become an epic fantasy novelist. It just naturally followed that winged horses would fly through the pages of DawnSinger, my debut novel and first in the Tales of Faeraven trilogy. In the world of Elderland wingabeasts run wild in the Maegrad Paesad, or Impenetrable Mountains. Only a very few have been captured to bond with the guardians who are privileged to ride them. It takes balance and skill to remain on one while in the air. Wingabeasts are well trained and will hold position even in great peril.

If winged horses are awesome, reindeer are even more so, for they fly without wings. My early fascination with reindeer should come as no surprise. How could I not admire these graceful creatures s they charged through the wintry night with jaunty bells jingling? At least in my imagination, and in Clement Clark Moore’s “T’was the Night Before Christmas” poem, reindeer circled the earth pulling a sleigh weighted by presents and a right jolly old elf. Each Christmas Eve, long after I should have been asleep, I laid in bed with ears straining for the tap of prancing hooves on the roof. The fact that I never heard them did not make the reindeer any less real. They were magical, you see, born of sugar-coated dreams and sprinkled with pixie dust. Just like Christmas.

In honor of Christmas, I’m giving away a free digital copy of DawnSinger (winner’s choice of ebook format). Leave a comment to this post to enter.

I have an additional giveaway going at my website worth over $50. Enter to win a free download of My Memories Scrapbooking Software Suite and an autographed copy of DawnSinger. Upon request, I will provide the winner a printable certificate for the software and novel for gift-giving purposes. Or keep the software to help you more easily save those Christmas memories. That way, you’ll have more time to curl up and read DawnSinger! Here’s the link to enter:

About the Author:
Janalyn Voigt's father instilled in her a love of literature at an early age by classic novels as bedtime stories. Janalyn soon began creating my own stories, and eventually wrote them down. When she was 12, a teacher noticed her storytelling ability. His encouragement helped Janalyn to later become a published novelist. Janalyn Voigt's unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and fantasy creates worlds of beauty and danger for readers. Beginning with DawnSinger, her epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, carries the reader into a land only imagined in dreams. At her Creative Worlds blog, Janalyn offers detail from her research, travel journals, author journals, and updates about her books.

Thursday, December 20, 2012



Christmas in Germany and German magic: the mysterious Knecht Ruprecht

I'm half German and my childhood was filled with German fairy tales and legends. Fairies, goblins and elves populated my imagination since I was little, no wonder my first book is an urban fantasy about fairies!

Anyway, of all the magic creatures of German folklore, some are good and some really bad. The most evil I can think of is the Erlkoenig, the malicious Elven king described in Goethe’s poem of the same name, where a little boy is killed by the Erlkoenig, who then kidnapped his soul.

In Germany we practically invented Christmas: the Christmas tree (Tannenbaum, in German) is a German tradition and so is Santa Claus who was originally Saint Nicholaus. Connected to Saint Nicholaus is the very positive and Christmassy figure called “Knecht Ruprecht”, which translates as Farmhand Rupert or Servant Rupert, who is a companion of Saint Nicholas as described in the folklore of Germany. He first appears in written sources in the 17th century, as a figure in a Nuremberg Christmas procession.

Although very ugly, often represented like a black man holding a big brown sack, where the toys are kept, Knecht Ruprecht is just a little grumpy but overall good. He appears in homes on St. Nicholas day (December 6), and is a man with a long beard, wearing fur or covered in pea-straw. Knecht Ruprecht sometimes carries a long staff and a bag of ashes, and wears little bells on his clothes. Sometimes he is accompanied by fairies or men with blackened faces dressed as old women. No idea who these men are, nor know why they dress in drag, but that’s tradition, so I suppose we must accept it the way it is.

Knecht Ruprecht’s job is to ask children whether they can pray. If they can, they receive apples, nuts, and gingerbread. If they cannot, he beats the children with his bag of ashes. In other, more recent versions of the story, Knecht Ruprecht gives naughty children useless, ugly gifts such as lumps of coal, sticks, and stones, while well-behaving children receive sweets from Saint Nicholas.

The companions of Saint Nicholas are a group of closely related figures who accompany St. Nicholas in German-speaking Europe .These characters act as a foil to the benevolent Christmas gift-bringer, threatening to thrash or abduct disobedient children. But it’s just an empty threat since, as I said, they don’t look good but they are good inside. Jacob Grimm associated this character with the pre-Christian house spirit (kobold, elf) which could be benevolent or malicious, but whose mischievous side was emphasized after Christianization. In fact, according to my dad and all my oldest German relatives, Knecht Ruprecht is to be also connected to the figure of Rumpelstiltskin who is the antagonist of another German tale of the brother Grimm (and the ambiguous character we all love in the super-cool Once Upon a Time). Rumpel, like Ruprecht, used to be a naughty house kobold who did some chores, always in exchange for something precious, At a point, Saint Nicholaus hired Ruprecht, so that he stopped being so naughty, starting doing some good.

Ruprecht was also a common name for the Devil in Germany, and Grimm states that "Robin Goodfellow is the same home-sprite whom we in Germany call Knecht Ruprecht and exhibit to children at Christmas..."

In spite of this in the Salzburg area, in Austria, the Knecht Ruprecht character is not only St. Nicholas' assistant, but also his protector. Saint Nicholaus has a lot of enemies, the devil being on the top of the list, and Ruprecht, who is known to be very strong and able to do some magic, keeps a watchful eye on the benevolent saint during his journey.

In the Anglo-Saxon countries, where kobolds and elves are more or less the same thing, our Rubrecht and his crew have been replaced by a bunch of cute little elves dressed in green. And the holy Saint Nicholaus has become Father Christmas in England and Santa Claus in the US. Still, good old Rubrecht hasn’t been completely wiped out and got his little ‘revenge’: in fact, you might be surprised to know that, in Germany, Bart Simpson’s dog isn’t called ‘Santa’s little helper’, but Knecht Ruprecht!

About the Author:
Louisa Klein is the author of Supernatural Freak, an action-packed, romantic urban fantasy set in contemporary London. She is 25, lives in the UK but was born in Germany and brought up by a German dad and an Italian and French mum, which made her a little confused at first. She has a degree in Medieval Studies and a postgraduate one in Marketing. She’s been working in publishing on and off since she was 17 and currently is a freelancer and an Urban Fantasy writer. At night she puts on a mask and fights British crime. She gets very little sleep.

When paranormal expert Robyn Wise is offered an outrageous sum of money to cure a boy who is turning into a dead tree, she's very sceptical. A politician ready to pay that much to make his son stop growing branches instead of hair? Come on! She's more likely to be abducted by aliens. This is a trap. Or much worse. And, of course, it's much worse.

The child is turning into a dark portal, created by a powerful entity determined to absorb Fairyland's power. This means that not only queen Titania and her court are in danger, but the very balance of the magic fluxes.

She'd rather stick a pencil in her own eye, but to learn how to destroy the portal, she has to sneak into the Wizardry Council, a place full of wizards who are hiding something—though it’s certainly not their dislike of Robyn.

There, she discovers a secret that could help to overthrow Fairyland's enemies for good, a secret that puts her in the midst of an ancient and deadly war, and not as a bystander, but as the main target.
Amazon link: Website: Facebook:



Happy holidays! In my urban fantasy setting, the Senyaza Series, many things we're not too certain about in real life do exist... but not quite in the form we expect. Things like angels, faeries, monsters... and Santa Claus. I'm very fond of Santa Claus, you see. I'm especially fond of Santa Claus stories that present him as much more than a jolly old toymaker. There's a movie out right now that presents him as a dual-sword-wielding guardian, which I love! I, however, have my own ideas.... Read on for a glimpse:

I dug this exchange out of the archives. It takes place before and after the events of Matchbox Girls. Leave a comment below to enter a drawing for a DRM-free digital copy of the novel!

Dear Uncle Nick,
The girls have been asking about you. There have been several incidents lately that make me really hope you won't be disappointing them come December.


Dear Z,
It's August. I get one night a year to do my magic. If they're hoping for a personal audience, you know where to find my associates.

P.S. Please don't call me Uncle Nick. It's far too close to Old Nick and I'm a reformed character. Further attempts to transparently exploit our relationship will get you on the naughty list.

P.P.S. I see you're already on the naughty list. Nice boys are more considerate of their friends. Better watch out...


Dear Sinterklauss,
I'm a little old to be on any naughty or nice lists. If the kids aren't satisfied come Christmas, they may do something dramatic. This isn't a threat, this is a concern. Last spring I had an egg-laying rabbit on my hands for a few days. Help me out here?


Dear Z,
One night a year. If I had more than that you can bet your knickers I'd concern myself with adults on the naughty list, especially if they committed offenses against children. But I made my choice and I'm sticking with it. Your kids look like sweet girls but no matter how many bunnies they enchant or how you wheedle for them, they're not getting special privileges.


Dear Father Christmas
A lot can change in a month. How about now? They'd probably be content with Christmas Eve Eve.


Dear Z,
What have you done?


Dear Saint
It wasn't me. It was them. I did say. Shall I plan on goose for dinner on December 23rd?


Dear Z,
Oh yes, I feel it. Suddenly I have much more than one day a year to work my magic... and so much to catch up on. The naughty list must be dealt with...
About the Author:
Chrysoula Tzavelas went to twelve schools in twelve years while growing up as an Air Force brat, and she never met a library she didn't like. She now lives near Seattle with some random adults, miscellaneous animals, and two handy small children. She likes combed wool, bread dough, and gardens. She's also a certified technology addict; it says so on her (trademark-redacted) music player.

Find Chrysoula online at

Marley Claviger is just trying to get her life together. Stumbling into an ancient conflict between celestial forces is going to make that a whole lot harder... When Marley wakes up to a phone call from a pair of terrified children, she doesn't expect to be pulled into a secret war.

She rescues them from an empty house and promises to find their missing uncle. She even manages to feed them dinner. But she barely feels competent to manage her own life, let alone care for small children with strange, ominous powers... And when a mysterious angelic figure shows up and tries to claim the girls, it all falls apart...

Plagued by visions of disaster, Marley has no idea what she's gotten herself into, but she knows one thing: magical or not, the kids need her.

Candlemark and Gleam Amazon Paperback Amazon Kindle

"Lovely worldbuilding and an unusual heroine surrounded by strong relationships and good intrigue kept me reading Matchbox Girls until well past my bedtime. Tzavelas has created a winning story universe and I'm impatient for the next book!"
- CE Murphy, author of Urban Shaman and The Queen's Bastard

Watch the book video:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012



Tree Dressing at the Weald and Downlands Open Air Museum

Many winter festivals have trees and the greenwood at their heart, and this idea forms the basis of the Weald and Downlands Open Air Museum's annual festival on the first Sunday in December (at the end of National Tree Week). First held in 1990 but based on much older traditions, the tree dressing marks the climax of a full day of additional activities at the museum. These included craft sessions to make garland headdresses, jam jar lanterns, and beeswax candles; bread-making in the Tudor kitchen; roasted chestnuts; mulled cider (or apple juice) and spiced biscuits; and acorn planting. Dances, songs and plays were performed in the village's Market Square by Rabble Folk Theatre and Mythago Morris. I particularly enjoyed the 'Tale of the Oak King and the Holly King' as performed by Rabble.

At 3.45 we all assembled in the Market Square with lanterns lit, and Rabble led us In procession past some of the Museum's other buildings, through the woods and back down the grassy slope to the twin aspen trees just up from the Market Square. All those with lanterns stepped forward to dress the trees' bare branches, then as the sun went down, singers from Rabble led a rendition of the traditional 'The Trees of the Greenwood'. As the day drew to a close we all linked hands to perform what may be the world's largest spiral dance around the trees.

Photos of the day can be found on my LJ in this post or at any of the sites I've linked to above.

The Museum will be open throughout the winter, and I'll be going back one day between Boxing Day and New Year's Day when all the Museum's houses will be decorated according to the festive traditions of their period. An ideal way to walk off the overindulgences of Christmas, although the Museum does provide very reasonably-priced and tasty food if you burn off too much energy.

One commenter on this post will win both a DRM-free digital copy of A Series of Ordinary Adventures and a photo-calendar illustrated with 13 of my photos of random places in the UK.


Born in Sheffield, England's Steel City, and raised in a village on the boundary of the White and Dark Peaks, Stevie Carroll was nourished by a diet of drama and science fiction from the BBC and ITV, and a diverse range of books, most notably Diane Wynne-Jones and The Women's Press, from the only library in the valley.

Now based in Hampshire, Stevie somehow manages to combine thoughts of science fiction, fantasy and historical mysteries with a day-job writing for the pharmaceuticals industry and far too many voluntary posts working with young people, with animals and in local politics. Stevie's short story, 'The Monitors', was longlisted by the 2010 Tiptree Awards jury, and Stevie's first solo collection A Series of Ordinary Adventures was published in May 2012 (also available from Amazon and, Bookdepository, and everywhere else good books are sold).

Stevie has an LJ for updates on writing and research trips, and really needs to get a website.



Christmas in Finland

Hyvää Joulua, everyone! That’s “Merry Christmas” in Finnish.

Though I’m from the States, my novel DARK HEIRLOOM takes place in Finland. So I decided to research how the Finnish celebrate the holidays and how their traditions differ from ours. While the basics are pretty similar, there are a handful of fun and interesting differences that I would like to try!

First of all, Christmas in Finland lasts a lot longer than it does here. Usually we celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In Finland, the holiday season typically begins on the first Sunday in December, called the First Advent. Formal celebrations begin on December 13th for the Day of Saint Lucia and several other Saints are celebrated during the month, with Christmas officially ending 13 days after Christmas Day!

Cleaning the house, as well as one’s self, before the holidays begin is a very important tradition in Finland. Christmas marks the end of the seasonal year for them and it’s important to start the New Year fresh with no negativity from last year! Bathing in a sauna or Finish steam house is practically a requirement. Some sources say the bath is done Christmas morning for a few hours before dinner is severed – other sources claim the cleansing begins a few days before and the Finish spend an entire day in the sauna, taking breaks every few hours and then re-cleansing.

Mass and a visit with dead relatives at a cemetery is an essential part of Christmas Eve. They also decorate a spruce tree on Christmas Eve much like we do, and gifts can be given then or on Christmas morning. However, gifts to children are typically given from the local town Santa Claus himself and a group of village elves! By the way, did you know Santa Clause lives in a castle in Lapland, Finland?

Christmas dinner is served between 5-7 o’clock and the menu traditionally includes Codfish, rutabaga casserole, oven-baked ham, and potatoes.

Sounds divine! I’ve always wanted to go to Finland. Maybe someday my vampires from DARK HEIRLOOM will take me. Please continue reading to find out how you can win a digital copy of DARK HEIRLOOM for yourself – or to give to a friend.

Hyvää Joulua!
J.D. Brown
Author of the Dark Heirloom series
Twitter @AuthorJDBrown

“You’re a vampire” is so not what Ema Marx wants to hear when she wakes from a two-day coma in a cryptic yet exquisite castle in northern Finland. Unfortunately, it explains a lot. Like why she’s able to see in the dark and walk through solid objects. What she doesn’t understand is why the other vampires expect her to have all the answers. It’s their fault she turned into one of them…right?

Jalmari’s hatred for his old-man intensifies when he’s ordered to bring that troublesome girl to their castle. He has a clan to run, there’s no time for babysitting newborn vampires no matter how they were converted to their culture. But when a two-thousand-year-old premonition threatens to take the crown and his life, Jalmari sees no other choice than to take out the catalyst. Ema Marx. Fortunately for Ema, she could also be the clan’s only savior.

The race to figure out her vampiric origins is on. And maybe she’ll get the hang of the blood-drinking gig along the way…

Available in paperback and ebook from: Barnes&Noble and Nook MuseItUp Publishing Inc.

COMING MAY 2013 – DARK LIAISON – Book Two. Being a Romani-Vampire with an ancestor who wants you dead isn’t normal. Neither is this sequel…

WIN a free e-book or .PDF copy of Dark Heirloom by leaving a comment below with your name and email address before January 1, 2013.

Up to three lucky commenters will win!!! Winners will be chosen at random from the comments below and announced on January 2nd. Good luck!

About the Author:
J.D. Brown writes Urban Fantasy for MuseItUp Publishing as well as a monthly “how-to” newsletter column for PDMI Freelance Publishing. She graduated from The International Academy of Design and Technology with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts and currently lives in Wisconsin with her two Pomeranians. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, J.D.’s writing is influenced by the multicultural urban society of her youth along with the many travels she was fortunate to experience.

J.D. loves paranormal characters - from vampires and werewolves, demons and angels, to witches and ghosts. She’s a self-proclaimed expert in vampire mythology and Greek mythology. Her writings are often a combination of history, magic, suspense and romance brought to life in a colorful metropolitan setting.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012



Holidays For Introverts And The Generally Cranky

Everyone knows at least one person who gets cranky about holidays. Chances are it's more than one. I think it's common enough that if it's not quite normal, at least it's widely tolerated. While I doubt everyone who doesn't like the holidays qualifies as an introvert, maybe a good number of such people are on that end of the spectrum.

In my case, I'll go with that. But this isn't a post about shopworn anti-holiday sentiments. As an often-introverted personality type, of course Christmas was never something I could get excited about. Too much noise, too many lights, too much of everything. However, in the last while I've found myself giving in to the sentimentality, as if the heel of Santa's fur-trimmed Hessian boot were at my throat, with a mere shift of the obese man's bodyweight the only thing standing between life and death.

This year especially, people seem to be tired of Christmas music in stores. Being that I've worked in such stores, I've basically experienced a lifetime of normal exposure to this hazardous radiation before the age of thirty. But then something happened.

A good friend of mine is a vocalist and just felt like singing at work over the holidays. And since apparently everyone else was cool with the idea, the two of us ended up performing. Before this, keep in mind that the only music I played on the guitar was a little bit of jazz and a lot of death metal. So I had to learn how the play some of the very songs that had been my torment for basically all of history. And get over the stage fright that had stopped me from getting anywhere with being in a band. I accomplished both of these and also learned that sometimes playing music that's so ubiquitous and part of tradition isn't as easy to do well as I'd assumed, in my arrogant prog-metal Ibanez RG-playing ignorance.

The challenge of it changed the game for me. But only initially. After a few performances, I stopped being so concerned about myself and paid a bit of attention to the "audience," which was, most of the time, perhaps two people. Even though these people had heard the same songs as muzak everywhere else, when they saw two kind-of-shy store employees inexplicably playing Christmas songs in a corner, some of them seemed to genuinely enjoy it, if only for a few seconds. The single encore request we got was even more thrilling.

That was last year. This year was when the epiphany really struck. When those songs came back on the radio, instead of hating them I couldn't help but feel sentimental about it. I missed playing those songs with my friend, and hearing them over and over for a month is all I really have of that now.

So I'm not sure if it's just that I'm the type of introvert who is difficult to get close enough to for such moments to happen, or if it's just that the holidays just don't make as much sense to me outside of playing music and so on. But a large part of my holiday crankiness seems to have been permanently cured just from that experience.

This means there's hope for all the others who become stressed over holidays. The kind of peace a lot of introverts need to feel sane still exists during the holidays, but you just have to dig to find it.

And hey, if you comment on this post, you could win a copy of my dieselpunk fantasy novel, Blightcross. It's like steampunk, only better and with more explosions. Check it out and make sure to enter!

About the Author:
C. A. Lang is a product of Nelson, British Columbia, and it shows. Growing up around Victorian architecture likely had something to do with his appreciation of steampunk, although we're not quite sure why he felt the need to ditch the steam engines and go all internal-combustion on the genre. He has settled in Kelowna, B.C., where sometimes he can be found abusing a gigantic jazz guitar in public, doing deadlifts, and running obscene distances.



Researching St. Nicholas Eve

When I was very small Christmas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, and St. Nick were all mixed up – but it didn’t matter.

Wikipedia says:

In Northern Germany, Sankt Nikolaus is usually celebrated on a small scale. Many children put a boot called Nikolaus-Stiefel outside the front door on the night of 5 December. St. Nicholas fills the boot with gifts and sweets overnight, and at the same time checks up on the children to see if they were good, polite and helpful the last year. If they were not, they will have a tree branch in their boots instead. Sometimes a Nikolaus impersonator also visits the children at school or in their homes and asks them if they have been good (sometimes ostensibly checking his golden book for their record), handing out presents on the basis of their behavior.

Here’s what I remember. When I was a young child, St. Nicholas Eve was the start of the Christmas season.

Everyone in the family hung stockings. The socks my brother and I wore were much too small, so my grandmother donated her long baggy cotton stockings.

I don’t remember really big gifts. Everything had to fit in the stocking. But there was always an orange in the toe (which made the stocking really long and funny looking) and some candy. Maybe there were small toys. I think the excitement was more important than the gifts. Gifts and surprises weren’t ordinary. And little things meant more. (And Christmas meant big presents.)To awake to find a bulging stocking was pure magic.

It fits the Northern German tradition. Stockings instead of boots. And St Nicholas as the beginning of the annual “be good or Santa will bring you coal” time of year. Behavior was very important. I also remember threats that bad children could get a switch (ah the old tree branch).

I’m not sure when we stopped hanging St. Nicholas stockings, but we never hung stockings on Christmas Eve and I always wondered why anyone would do that. Sadly, I think in my family the St. Nicholas traditions disappeared because they didn’t fit the melting pot American Santa Claus images.

* The perverted story “Six to Eight Black Men” by David Sedaris in Holidays on Ice provides politically incorrect outrageous holiday laughs at the expense of Saint Nicholas in the Netherlands. Read the story online - originally published in Esquire or listen to Sedaris read it at Carnegie Hall on YouTube

A more delightful version of St. Nicholas Eve is celebrated by the dog-shifter librarians of Shipsfeather, Ohio in my fantasy The Shapeshifters’ Library Book One: Released.

Read the “Wassail Excerpt” and the “St. Nicholas Excerpt” posts on my blog Wordshaping – posted December 4 & 5 to celebrate with them.

Leave a comment to win a copy of Relaxing the Writer, the book and companion relaxation CD. Perfect for all writers and readers who may be feeling a little stressed.

About the Author:Amber Polo has had a lifelong love affair with libraries and dogs. A fascination with lost ancient libraries and curiosity about why werewolves outnumbered dog-shifters in literature inspired her new urban fantasy series filled with librarian dog-shifters.

The Shapeshifters' Library: Released is the first volume. Retrieved (Book 2) will be out December, 2012. Her previous novels include the award-winning Flying Free, an Arizona airpark romance with a high-flying Alaskan Malamute, and a Sedona paranormal romance Romancing Rebecca.

To help writers and stressed readers reduce stress, her book Relaxing the Writer: Guidebook to the Writers’ High offers suggestions and simple exercises. Using her calming voice she’s recorded relaxation CDs that help almost anyone relax. After working in more than six libraries and living with five Old English Sheepdogs (at one time) she happily calls a small town in Arizona home.

Website Goodreads Amazon Barnes and Noble

Monday, December 17, 2012

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Amy Lignor


A Truly Wealthy Christmas
Amy Lignor

Everyone speaks about money; it is the main reason why people get divorced, hate their jobs, or are desperate to find jobs (even if they’ll hate them once they have them). People dream about having ‘it’ - that financial cushion that will always and forever allow them to have what they want and never have to worry about anything ever again. And the one time money is most desired, is when the holiday season comes along. Yes, Christmas centers on the enjoyment of family - having time with your loved ones while decorating the house with pretty, sparkling ornaments and lights. Christmas is not there to worry about what gifts to purchase, or how to find a way to give a gift to someone you love who so desperately wants it.

Once upon a time, I forgot the main reason for Christmas. I was exhausted by a job that wasn’t even close to my ‘life’s dream,’ and living in an apartment that was beyond desolate no matter how you decorated it. The whole thought of, “I’m well off because I have a roof over my head and food in my daughter’s stomach,” never even entered my mind.

That specific Christmas I wanted to give my best friend and absolute joy of my life a present she’d always wanted. I can’t even remember what it was now, but back then her little girl eyes lit up when she saw it on T.V., and I know she wanted one of her very own. The saddest part, however, was the fact that not only could I not purchase the gift, I didn’t even have money for a tree. That made me sad. My whole life I had grown up in a family that had no money, but every year we had a beautiful tree in the center of the room that my sister and I decorated while Mom, Dad and the grandparents sat around drinking coffee, laughing and enjoying the fact that we were all together. That tree marked a tradition for us. I even remember the time when Dad went out and got one so large that he had to cut the top off in order to get it to fit in the living room. But he did it, and the angel shone on top just like every year before (even though she was a little bit crooked).

Unlike me, my daughter was enjoying the season. Her friends at school were making cards and getting all excited about Santa getting suited up for his annual adventure. My daughter asked me one night why I was so ‘silent;’ she knew I was thinking about something and wanted to know what was bothering me. I told her about the tree…about the fact that we wouldn’t have one. But that beautiful face didn’t fall, it smiled brightly before racing over to the corner to grab her box of art supplies. Green construction paper appeared, the tape dispenser started rolling, and the small hand with the plastic scissors flew faster than any designer on Project Runway.

We laughed, we sang carols and I watched that little girl continue our tradition. We cut out ornaments, colored lights, and put the huge creation up on the wall. It even rivaled Dad’s enormous find. This was the Christmas when it all came back - when all the worry about money and gifts went straight out the window. This was the moment I remembered that it’s all about family, love, friendship and my daughter’s huge heart that now, at twenty-years-old, is still filled with joy.

I had no need for an angel on top of that tree because I had one with me, and every single day I have been blessed to watch her grow up. As Christmas comes closer I already know that no tree will be as amazingly beautiful as that one was, but my ‘adult’ child is even more beautiful. And seeing that we’re still together, sharing each other’s lives, makes us the wealthiest people on the entire planet!

Whether it’s your child, your Labrador, your best friend, your family, or the person you see in the mirror every morning - enjoy this holiday season and feel extremely blessed that they’re still with you!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a download of Until Next Time.

Happy Holidays!

About the Author:
Amy Lignor began her career at Grey House Publishing in northwest Connecticut where she was the Editor-in-Chief of numerous educational and business directories.

Now she is a published author of several works of fiction. The Billy the Kid historical The Heart of a Legend; the thriller, Mind Made; and the adventure novel, Tallent & Lowery 13.

She is also the owner of The Write Companion, a company that offers help and support to writers through a full range of editorial services from proofreading and copyediting to ghostwriting and research. As the daughter of a research librarian, she is also an active book reviewer.

Currently, she lives with her daughter, mother and a rambunctious German Shepherd named Reuben, in the beautiful state of New Mexico.

Find Amy online at

Amy Lignor's Facebook:
Amy Lignor's Twitter:!/HelloWritersAmy
Amy Lignor's Website:
Amy Lignor's Blog:

How does a girl choose between the one who steals her heart and the one who owns her soul?

Matt and Emily were created for a specific job. Raised and trained as the ultimate angel/warrior team, they are sent down to save, defend, judge and forgive, depending on the 'life' they've been assigned. What they don't realize is that the power of human emotions, such as love, anger, passion and fear can take over even the best of souls, causing them to make mistakes and follow paths that lead to confusion and heartache.

When the reason for their training is finally revealed, the angel/warrior team find themselves thrust into a world they know nothing about. Matt takes over the life of Daniel, a young man with a great deal of baggage. Emily becomes Liz, a girl living in a remote village who relies on nothing more than her own strength to survive. A violent storm erupts one night, and framed in the window of Liz's establishment is a frightening face. Let in by the soul of a Good Samaritan, the two visitors bring with them a past full of secrets that could literally change an angel's path and a warrior's plans.

From murder to redemption, this angel/warrior team must find a way to keep the faith they have in each other in a world that's ripping them apart.



The Depressing, Suicidal Days of Winter—Really?

The days grow dim and nights stretch long. Ads inundate the airwaves with buy, buy, buy, home-for-the-holidays, and expectations of family gatherings. No one escapes the bombardment of images and the 483,231 versions of “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”

No one.

With the constant barrage of images and expectations of gluttony and greed, the various news media chime in with story upon story detailing the dire effects of the season, how depression and suicide rates increase around the holidays. The assumption makes sense, after all. War (someone’s always fighting, especially in the Middle East), the pressure to spend more than a person can afford, pending family gatherings wrought with tension and conflict, dimwitted pundits condemning this or that group’s seasonal celebrations or word choice for good wishes—yes, winter is definitely ripe for depression, and depression for some readily leads to suicide.

As the season of insanity (Need proof? Go shopping on Black Friday.), of hopelessness and desperation, winter becomes the perfect setting for dark fantasy and horror stories. Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick certainly made good use of the season in the novel and movie versions of The Shining. Scores of other authors have also made winter the optimal setting for spotlighting the soul’s darkest corners. But do our assumptions about the season’s dark side pan out under scrutiny?

The holiday season in my youth was an opportune time for my parents to act out. They weren’t fond of each other, and holiday visits to each set of relatives provided them with excellent opportunities to explode into battles in their ongoing war.

Hallelujah, Christmas!

Then came the year my mother took me grocery shopping late Christmas Eve afternoon. When we arrived home, my father was waiting on the front steps with the story of how, while taking a bath, he’d heard someone sneak into the house. Through the crack in the doorway to the living room, he said he’d seen Santa quickly unload a few toys from his bag and flee. Later that night, I overheard my parents talking low in the living room about the true delivery of those toys and more serious matters. Their voices were strangely calm as they agreed on terms. On Christmas day, they separated. It lasted for a couple of weeks before they decided to give things another try. A few Christmases later, they separated for good to everyone’s delight.

Melancholy tinged winter holidays followed, and I bought into the logical myth of increased depression and suicide. Perhaps you have, too. But statistics bust the myth to pieces. In fact, the U.S. suicide rate decreases during the holiday season, only to rise in spring as weather brightens and days lengthen. Psychologists speculate the winter decrease may result from increased interaction with family and friends who provide support that’s lacking the rest of the year. When moods bump up in spring and everyone returns to the daily greed and grump, folks subject to depression may feel worse because they don’t experience the same “normal” boost others enjoy.

That’s all fine and good, but where do the facts leave dark fantasy and horror writers? Would Jack Nicholson’s body in The Shining’s maze be as effective if the story were set in spring or summer?

Take away those winter myths in which we indulge ourselves, and what’s left?

Cold, dark days.

And that’s just depressing.

EVERYONE WINS! In honor of winter and its myriad of celebrations—from St. Nicholas Day, Bodhi Day, Solstice, Soyal, and Yalda, to Modraniht, Saturnalia, Pancha Ganapati, Dies Natils Solis Invicti, Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanza, New Year’s, and more—everyone’s a winner. Send an email mentioning this blog to to receive a free eBook in return (please specify preferred format; default format will be PDF). As an immediate “thanks” for reading the blog, please download a new CD of magical winter music, produced by Steven Hewitt, known in the music world as Out Of Orion (Ox3), featuring acoustic guitar and Native American flute performances by C.S. Fuqua. The album can be heard and/or downloaded free at The physical CD, with two bonus tracks, can be purchased at for $6.99 plus shipping. Makes a great gift for the season! May you have you a wonderful winter and the happiest of holidays.

About the Author:
C.S. Fuqua’s latest book is Rise Up, his second collection of award-winning short stories, published by Mundania Press, available in print and eBook formats at Mundania Press.. His work appears widely in publications as diverse as Bull Spec, Slipstream, Pearl, The Year's Best Horror Stories, Christian Science Monitor, and many others. His published books include Big Daddy's Gadgets, Trust Walk short fiction collection, Notes to My Becca, Alabama Musicians: Musical Heritage from the Heart of Dixie, If I Were (children’s poems), and Divorced Dads, among others. His short fiction and poetry collections have earned several “Year’s Best” honors. He is a musician and craftsman of Native American flutes which are sold through WindPoem flutes at For more information, please visit his website at