Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Christmas Memory with Author Mila Ramos

I'm sneaking one more in on this final day of the year! Join Mila Ramos as she remembers trying to catch "The Fatman" in the act, only to be left wondering to this day about what she really saw...Read on!

I’d like to thank Mysti for her invitation to post a Christmas memory. It happens to be one of my favorite memories of the holiday season.

Last night, funny enough, I was walking with my oldest niece around the block. She is 10-years old and at the age where she wants to know the people around her. More importantly she is trying to figure out what makes the people in her life so interesting. One of the questions on that night’s walk was a favorite memory I had about myself and her father (my younger brother). 

When I was much younger, about my niece’s age, my younger brother and I were phenomenally gifted at hiding from my parents during Christmas. Somehow over the course of our childhood, we managed to create a secret room (a fort in the closet) where we would hide and wait for Santa Clause to arrive. In our young thinking, we believed that if we could catch The Fatman in the act of delivering toys, we could negotiate for better presents. Now I do realize that in our young thinking this was preposterous but we had spent a year time (which in kid time is a few days tops) plotting and planning for this big moment.

Obviously, it was the Stardust
Propulsion Unit!
So there we are, the big moment. The moment that we had planned for all this and we are stopped short in our tracks.  Sneaking from our secret hideaway, we passed the living room window to look for Santa. In that search, my brother and I see a red tail in the sky. Staring in complete awe we gazed at the comet tail or whatever it was, and whispered at each other if Santa knew we were plotting to see him. Most importantly we wondered if in plotting to try to see Santa he had considered us “naughty”?  Oh no what would we do! Apparently though, Santa still found us to be good kids because not only did we get the surprises we always wanted but we received a few more that were not expected. Did that make Christmas unique to us? Yes it did and in the overall the secret plotting didn’t matter.  We believed we saw Santa fly by through the nighttime sky and that was enough for us.

Now to this day my brother and I have no clue what really was in the sky that night. Was it just a falling star? Fumes of some chemical that made the sky look red? No clue. But what we do know is that Christmas is not just a day for presents and believing in hokum, but Christmas is a day when make-believe actually came true.

Mila was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. At an early age she learned the valuable secrets books contained. It all started with the Lois Duncan book, “A Gift of Magic.” Mysterious worlds, faraway places helped nourish different ideas and concepts of the real world. It was through this that she discovered a whole new realm of depth.

The books ranged, and as they did so did her love for different types. Starting with William Shakespeare, Mila went through all the literary bests; William Blake, Joseph Conrad, Anais Nin, Leo Tolstoy, Ayn Rand, Maya Angelou, Victor Hugo. Until one day she read a book that changed her life, her first true romance book where characters were real, came to life, and could be the person next door. From there the world expanded from Nora Roberts, Karen Marie Moning, JR Ward, and beyond. With these authors, her writing took a new turn to role group playing and writing in the paranormal scene. Through this, the stories had more vivid ideas and better yet were actually getting heard.

She currently working on her doctorate in Organic Chemistry and resides in Texas, with her husband, family, friends. Her favorite genres are: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Erotica and anything her mind concocts. Crazy and silly as the ideas she sometimes has, her heart is as true as gold and hopes her readers enjoy the stories she writes as much as she loves to write them.

Mila Ramos, Paranormal & Contemporary Romance
Blog -

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Christmas Memory with Author Alan Zendell

We're rounding out the end of the year with another Christmas memory from Alan Zendell as he remembers how the holiday changed for him and his family over the years, with both joyful and bittersweet times. Read on!!

On the December 9th episode of TV’s “Modern Family,” Jay (Ed O’Neill) addressed the chaos that their pre-Christmas gathering had become by suggesting that they find a good Chinese restaurant and celebrate a good old traditional Jewish Christmas.  The only thing wrong with his characterization was that he left out the part about seeing a first-run movie after dinner on the only day of the year on which there were no lines to get in.

That comedians have turned the notion of a traditional Jewish Christmas into a cliché makes it no less true.  It’s a perfect description of my view of Christmas for the first thirty years of my life.  It could hardly have been different growing up on the streets of Brooklyn, a Jewish kid living across the street from a Catholic church.  People, especially Jews, were more aware of their differences than their similarities in the years following World War II.  We derisively called Christmas trees Chanukah bushes, and we laughed that we got eight days worth of presents while the Irish working class kids on our block only got one.  But truth be told, that was as much a reaction to feeling left out as anything else.  We teased them mercilessly about having to be dragged off to Christmas Mass, but I secretly always wanted a Christmas tree.

Everything changed when I moved my family to Seattle.  Surrounded by an incredible forest of fir and cedar trees, and far from the prying eyes of parents and grandparents, December became an excuse to keep a beautiful, aromatic douglas fir by the fireplace.  We wrapped several strands of multi-colored lights around it, each strand blinking on and off independently in a wonderfully random psychedelic pattern – it was the 70’s after all – and my next eleven Christmas memories became family and friends lying on the floor on throw pillows, mesmerized by the constantly changing colored light pattern on the walls and ceiling, with Pink Floyd or Moody Blues playing on the stereo.  I loved it.

Moving back East changed things again.  The kids went off to college, left home for good, (if you don’t count all the times they came back,) and my wife and I were working far too many hours to let Christmas slow us down.  Thus passed twenty years of memories which didn’t include Christmas at all.  For me, holidays had lost their religious significance, and Christmas became the season of re-runs on television and crowded shopping malls.  And then, a few years ago, it changed again.

Both of my sons married Catholic girls, and rather than the separatism of my growing up years, I experienced a merging of family traditions that was surprisingly enriching.  Sharing our differences brought us all closer together, and I discovered that there was something magical about a bunch of people gathering around a Christmas tree and exchanging gifts.  So many smiles, so much happiness and caring.  My new memories are of my house being a base of operations for the holidays when the kids come back, of my daughter-in-law taking over my kitchen to do her holiday baking, and the dog reveling in the snow.  The Christmas tree in my living room and the fire burning in the fireplace were the same as they were in Seattle, but the experience was very different.  Pink Floyd was replaced by Beethoven and Bocelli, and the nearly hallucinogenic flashing lights have morphed into a soft, warm glow…

…but last Christmas (2010) is the one I’ll always keep in my heart.  My living room was again the focus of the holidays.  Everyone was there and it was a loving, emotional time, but there was something else.  Our wonderful golden retriever was recovering from brain surgery.  We’d invested everything in caring for her since October, and I for one, was exhausted.  She was happy and playful and loving, and it was easy to be optimistic about a full recovery, but deep down we knew.  Brain tumors always win in the end, and it would be our last Christmas with Haley.  So we loved her just a little more that Christmas (if that was even possible) and we pretended everything was okay.  I know I’ll never experience a Christmas like that one again.

Alan Zendell spent more than forty years as a scientist, aerospace engineer, software consultant, database developer, and government analyst. He spent two years working on the first manned lunar mission, then moved on to a variety of near-Earth satellite projects, and Pentagon support for anti- ballistic missile systems. As the aerospace industry became more oriented toward the military, he applied his skill set to health care and social service systems, and ultimately branched out into software and database consulting.
For more on Alan's books, please visit the links below. To see my review of The Portal (a fabulous story!), click HERE.

He always wrote a lot, but it was generally really boring stuff like proposals and technical papers, reports, business letters, and policy memoranda.  But in recent years he has written several short pieces in a variety of genres and completed five novel manuscripts, three of which have three of which have found their way into print and e-books. “Wednesday’s Child” is hard science fiction with a different twist on time travel; “The Portal” is a science-fiction love story set in a dystopian twenty-second century America; and “Critical Focus” is a contemporary political novel that addresses the major issues facing present-day America.  You can read more about them and find sample chapters on Alan’s website:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas?

As I prepare for the big day, I reflect on the year we're about to leave behind. It's flown by, as the years seem to do now that I'm a 30-something adult. Great things have happened this year--I published my first book and have had a blast with this blog and meeting other authors. Our oldest niece got engaged, and we welcomed our youngest niece into the world. There have also been challenges, regrets, and pain.

The magic of Christmas is supposed to erase all that yucky stuff, right? I wish it was that simple. When I hear the song It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, I'm tempted to say "Bah humbug!" I'm weighed down with worries about things I cannot change.

However, as I was doing laundry (seems most of my bright ideas come when I'm doing something mundane), I realized that Christmas isn't perfect, nor has it ever been. Sure, I've been more joyful in years past. I've also been much sadder, like when my grandfather died on Christmas Eve, or the first Christmas after my mom died.

But, think about that first Christmas. Imagine being a very young woman, far from home, about to give birth to your first child. You don't have the luxury of a midwife or even your mother to help you. Heck, you don't even have a bed. All you have is a stable, a pile of hay, and your husband, who's not even the father of your baby. You're scared out of your mind because you've seen other young women die in childbirth, you've seen babies stillborn, and on top of all this, you've been told that YOUR child is special. Not just special, but the Messiah, the savior of the world. He's not being born to a queen or even to a prominent family. You are just the young wife of a poor carpenter, and you know he still harbors doubts. Imagine the pressure--if the baby had died or been a girl, you'd never be trusted again.

No, Jesus didn't come into the world on a perfect day. He wasn't born into a Norman Rockwell scene. He was born to a young couple who were poor and scared and didn't quite understand who he was going to be. They weren't singing carols or feeling the warmth of the holiday. For them, that first Christmas was a roller coaster of emotion that just happened to change the course of history.

Now, what was I worried about.....?

Merry Christmas, everyone, and may the new year hold new promises for you and yours!


To read my short story, "The Carpenter's Wife", and many other fabulous holiday-themed tales, pick up your copy of Christmas Lites! All proceeds go to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. **See sidebar for ordering info**

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Memory with Author TD Jones

This memory is a poignant one, and I'm sure many of us can relate to the loss of a loved one and what might have been...I know I can.

In August of 1996 my dad was diagnosed with Lung Cancer and we wanted to make sure Christmas was really special that year. My dad came from a large farming family so as a child Christmas was very sparing but as an adult he was able to provide his family with whatever we needed so he made sure Christmas was also a big thing for me and my two brothers. The holiday was going as planned except that my dad kept telling me I should spend the night at the house so I could sit up with him watch the Turkey cook. I found that request strange since I lived in the same town and would be back over the next day on Christmas Day for dinner. He kept on and on asking me to stay and I had two small kids at the time and just felt it was better if we were at our own home. I told him that turkey would cook just fine without me and him watching it cook.

My dad passed away nineteen days later and there isn’t a day that goes back that I wished I had stayed that night. My dad wasn’t a very emotional man who told you his feeling so I really believe that was his way of trying to tell me he wanted to spend time with me. I never dreamed that Christmas would be our last. I was a daddy’s girl and always thought I would have him with me. I miss him and if I could go back and change anything in my life, I would go back to that minute he asked me to stay and I would have pulled up a chair and sat and watched that turkey cook with my daddy.

My name is Teresa Jones and I write under the name of T.D. Jones. I write romance, family drama and mystery with humor always sprinkled in my books.  I live in West Texas but dream of retiring to Hawaii and being a full time writer someday. I love to hear from readers and other writers and can be contacted 
My books can be found at the following places:        
and most all other online bookstore such as B&N and Amazon

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Memory with Author MT McGuire

Today's memory from MT McGuire involves a clever scheme to catch Santa in the act. It's more or less based on truth, only slightly embellished for your enjoyment!

Who is Father Christmas?

Gerry lay in bed trying not to fall asleep. Whatever happened it was imperative she stayed awake or The Plan would fail. It being Christmas Eve Gerry was excited; hugely excited, so not falling asleep was quite easy. She cast her mind back to how The Plan was made. She and Peter, her older brother, had been decorating her parents en suite, secretly without their knowing. There was rather a lot of tinsel and Peter expressed concerns at wrapping it round the loo seat but Gerry had insisted.
“Shall I tell you a secret?” Peter had said – possibly in a fit of pique after losing the battle over the tinsel and the loo seat. “Father Christmas doesn’t exist.”
“Rubbish.” said Gerry. “Who else is going to bring all those presents?”
“Seriously, he isn’t real. He’s our Mum and Dad. Ben at school told me. He said it’s a secret that you only find out when you become a grown up.”
“That’s stupid. We write him a secret letter. How would Mum and Dad know what to bring us?”
“They don’t need to. They read the letter dumb-dumb.”
“But we burn it and it goes up the chimney to Santa.”
“Yeh but who helps us write it first? Anyway, how would Father Christmas have time to visit everyone?”
Hmm. Thinking about the logistics, Gerry could see why Peter might be so emphatic. There were a lot of stockings to fill in one night. All over the world, too. But then Father Christmas was magic. Moving at the speed of light would be a doddle for him, right? She said as much but Peter disagreed.
“OK, think about it. Why do all the things in my stocking always have the price labels on when all the things in yours don’t?”
Gerry shrugged, “I dunno. Dodgy elves?”
“Dodgy Dad more like. They do one each and Dad does mine and forgets to take them off.”
Gerry thought about Father Christmas some more and about her Dad. He was vague and he probably would forget to take the prices off things but surely Peter was wrong. She left him adding the finishing touches to the tinsel round the taps on their parents’ bidet and went to ask him.
“Dad, is there a secret about Father Christmas?” she asked.
“Yes... I mean no. Well there is but it’s nothing huge. You’ll find out when you’re older.” he said. When Gerry had pressed him further he’d flatly refused to say more. That made her very suspicious.
Hmm. She did some thinking and then went back to Peter.
“Alright then. I know Father Christmas DOES exist and I can prove it.”
“Yeh, yeh. Sure you can sis. Go on then.”
“Why don’t we trip him up. Then, when he falls over, it’ll make a noise, we’ll wake up and we’ll see him and we’ll know who he is won’t we?”
So that night, after Mum and Dad had said goodnight, Gerry and Peter tied Peter’s dressing gown cord from the leg of the bed to the leg of the chest of drawers. It was the darkest part of the floor and Father Christmas would have to walk over it to get to Peter’s bed. Then, trap set, the two of them lay still and waited or at least, Gerry did. Peter went to sleep and she could hear him snoring quietly. After waiting for ever, Gerry heard footsteps on the stairs.
“Wake up.” she reached across, half in and half out of bed, and yanked at Peter’s bedclothes.
“He’s coming.” said Gerry as she slithered back under her duvet.
She hoped the empty stockings were still draped across the ends of her and Peter’s beds. She risked a quick glance. Yes. She threw herself back on the pillow. Peter was awake now except that, like Gerry, he was pretending he wasn’t. Father Christmas was coming. They could hear Him walking along the hall. His clomping footsteps were accompanied by the soft rustle of paper wrapped goodies in a bag and squeaky bonk, bonk of the balloons He always tied up the ends of the stockings with as they banged against each other.
Father Christmas didn’t stuff the stockings at all. He swapped them. Gerry, who was still pretending to be asleep, felt a giant weight flop across her feet. That was cheating! But he must be in a rush so fair points for efficiency. Now he made his way to Peter’s bed but as he did so, he tripped over the dressing gown chord. He compounded the clatter he made falling to the floor by landing on one of the balloons which popped with a massive bang.
“Bugger!” shouted Father Christmas.
Gerry, and Peter, sat up in bed.
“Dad?” said Gerry. Peter turned on the bedside light.
“Gerry.” said Dad. “Did you do that?” He was chuckling.
“Yes. I wanted to trap Father Christmas. Just for a moment, you understand, so I could prove he was real. Peter said it was you and Mum.”
“Yeh. And it is. I told you.” said Peter.
“Well... I’m afraid you’re right in a sense Peter but not in the way you think. I am Father Christmas.”
“No you’re not.” said Peter.
“Oh but I am. I’m just about to start my round but I thought I’d deliver your stockings first.”
“You’re so NOT.” said Gerry on the brink of tears. She wanted Father Christmas to be real and she was upset because however lovely she thought Dad was, he wasn’t Him. “Where’s your red coat?”
“I haven’t put it on yet.” said Dad.
“But we don’t have a sleigh, or any reindeer. How do you deliver the presents?” asked Gerry suspiciously.
Dad shrugged, “By car.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Everyone knows Father Christmas has to go by sleigh.” said Peter.
“Well, sleigh riding’s not so easy when there’s no snow.” said Dad.
“Oh yeh? And what about the elves and the reindeer, where are they?” said Peter.
“They’re in Lapland.”
“Then if you were really Father Christmas we’d live in Lapland too, right?” said Peter. Dad ran one hand through his hair.
“Not necessarily. We don’t need to you see...” he paused. “I work on contract. You don’t think Father Christmas could get to everyone himself do you? It’s a big old world. The population is increasing – more kids to visit every year. Not so much speed in his old legs any more, either and he’s knocking on a bit.”
“So... let me get this straight.” said Peter, looking doubtful. “Are you saying you’re really, actually, Father Christmas?”
“No.” Dad smiled. “But I am, round here.”
“Ohmygod I can’t believe this. Ben is so WRONG.” said Peter leaping out of bed. Gerry was hot on his heels.
“Yippee!” shouted Gerry rushing over to give Dad a hug.
“Can we come with you Dad?” chorused both children excitedly.
“No you cannot! Health and safety would never allow it.” said Dad. He put the remaining stocking on the end of Peter’s bed and helped them untie the dressing gown cord trip wire. “It’s late and you two should go to sleep. You’ve a big day in the morning.”
“No buts, or under the terms of my contract I shall have to take those away and give them to someone more deserving.”
“Oh Daaaaad.”
He tucked Peter and Gerry back into their beds, kissed them both and turned out the lights.
“Goodnight kids.” he said.
Gerry and Peter listened as his footsteps receded downstairs. “Night love.” They heard him call to Mum, then the front door slammed.
“Did you hear that?” whispered Gerry.
“Yeh. He’s really gone.”
“I’m never going to be able to sleep now. I’m going to be awake all night.”
“I hope you’re not, you two.” Mum stood in the doorway, smiling. “You need all your energy for tomorrow. I hear your Dad had a bit of a trip. He’s away to work now but he left this for you, Peter.” She went and tied a new balloon to Peter’s stocking.
“I can’t believe Dad is Father Christmas.” said Gerry.
“One night a year, yes.” Mum smiled. “Good isn’t it? He has hidden depths, your Dad. Now then you two. SLEEP. It’s very late and I’m going to bed now, so you have to, too.” she told them firmly. She kissed them goodnight and they heard her moving along the corridor to the master bedroom. Gerry and Peter realised she must be as happy and proud of Dad as they were because as she walked down the hall they could hear her giggling.

M T McGuire is 42 years old but still checks inside unfamiliar wardrobes for a gateway to Narnia. None yet.  This picture is 10 years old, but she looks much the same, except her glasses are a bit trendier now. The marrow was 18 inches long and very tasty. It took 3 days to grow.

***There are THREE copies of M. T.'s book up for grabs on my 10,000'th Hit Giveaway!!!***

For more about M T, please visit:
Hamgee University Press
And check out her latest novel 
Few are Chosen
At Amazon as an E-book

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Christmas Memory with Author Ruth J Hartman

Today's memory involves a Christmas wish come true, with stripes, pink tongue, green eyes and no injuries to Santa. What could it be? Read on!!!

Dreaming of Tigers

When I was six, I’d been with my mom shopping. It was a couple of weeks before Christmas. We walked through the toy department. I always loved stuffed animals. (Actually still do. My house is full of them. J.) Way up high on the top shelf, were huge, stuffed, orange tigers. I almost fell backwards, tipping my head back to see them.

They were beautiful! I wanted one for Christmas so bad! But wasn’t sure Santa would be able to find them in the store. I mean, that would be quite a climb for the old guy. I made out my list of what I wanted. I don’t remember doing this, but my mom told me later I’d put it in the refrigerator to make sure she saw it. Not sure what I was thinking, since Santa was the one who needed to read it. Would he think to check in there?

I thought about those tigers a lot. Big green eyes. Striped tails. Pink tongue showing as the tigers smiled. Would I get one? Was it possible? I even had a dream that I lived among those tigers. Out in the forest. Of course, if never occurred to me that stuffed tigers didn’t need to hunt for food to survive. J. We were just all happy to be together. The tigers and I.

On Christmas morning, I ran in to my teenage brothers’ room to wake them up. My method of choice was to climb on their beds and jump on them. They didn’t appreciate that. Especially at 5 a.m. But, it was Christmas. Everybody needed to get up. Now! They grumped and mumbled, and said they’d be down. Eventually. My sister’s bedroom door remained closed. I knew if I couldn’t get our brothers out of bed, there was no way our older sister was going to get up. I sighed. Oh well. I tried. But that wasn’t going to stop me!

I ran down the steps, almost tripping. Why were there so many steps? Had there been that many when I’d gone to bed the night before? I thought I’d never get down there to the living room.

Where the tree was.

And the presents! 

I jumped over the last two steps, landing hard on my bare feet. I rounded the corner around the banister. And there it stood. The tree. And stockings.

And…could it be?

I ran to the tree, knelt down, and peeked behind the branches. There, sitting as handsome and polite as a prince. A tiger! I got a tiger! For just an instant, I worried that he might be missing his fellow tigers in the store. But, I would make sure he wasn’t lonely. I would make sure he was loved.

I sighed and smiled. Yes. Santa did get my list from the refrigerator. And he was able to climb the tall shelves in the store.

I had my tiger. Christmas had come.

Ruth J. Hartman spends her days cleaning teeth, and her nights spinning sweet romantic tales that make you giggle, laugh, and all-out guffaw. She, her husband, and their two cats, love to spend time curled up in their recliners watching old Cary Grant movies. Well, the cats, Maxwell and Roxy, sit in the people's recliners. Not that the cats couldn't get their own furniture. They just choose to shed on someone else's. You know how selfish those little furry creatures can be.

Ruth, a left-handed, tooth-scraping, Jeep driving, farmhouse-dwelling romance writer uses her goofy sense of humor as she writes tales of lovable, klutzy women and the men who adore them. Ruth's husband and best friend, Garry, reads her manuscripts, rolls his eyes at her weird story ideas, and loves her in spite of her penchant for insisting all of her books have at least one cat in them. Or twelve. But hey, who's counting?

For more about Ruth and her fabulous books (I'm such a fan!), please visit:
"My Life in Mental Chains
"Flossophy of Grace" ; **Editor's Pick**
"Purrfect Voyage"
"Grin and Barrett"
"Men in Uniform"
"Murphy in the Paw-Paw Patch"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Christmas Memory with Author Ottilie Weber

Here's a delightful medley of memories from Ottilie Weber, many of which I'm sure we can all relate to! Read on:

A Christmas memory is a mixture of family traditions that occurred in my family. The family gets the customs started with the twinkling lights covering the whole house, including a homemade Santa’s workshop, and even Snoopy.  Even the Christmas tree is up before Thanksgiving, even though that gives us a month till Christmas.  Christmas has always been a time for spending time with family, friends, and being away from school.  Even in college the thrill in the holiday is still there as I get to see my younger cousins live through the joy of Santa.

Christmas always bring the giddy joy of childhood traditions that feels like we never fully have to out grow.  Unpacking the boxes of ornaments that we get to decorate the tree with as the family talks about all the real trees that we had before we got the fake tree.  The year the tree was shaped like a pregnant tree, the year my grandparents dog knocked down the tree to only popped out of the fallen branches, and then there was last year how the decorations were only two feet high on the tree in one sector because my cousins were decorating.

My favorite childhood traditions that I never get to out grow however are the movies that I grew up on.  Movies that involve the Grinch, Charlie Brown, Muppets, and a not so childhood version The Christmas Carol, Scrooged are ones that I look forward to see each year.  Even to this day while watching Rudolph and The Year without a Santa Clause my mom and I will compare the Santa’s wondering why Rudolph didn’t make Santa beg for help, saying he was the grumpiest Santas.  The big joke with these movies is that they are on the same video as my mom’s Duran Duran music videos so that we have to get a blast from the eighties before the Christmas spirit.

Last year we included my two year old cousin who at the time was one in our cookie making session while watching the old animations on Christmas Eve.  Mixing the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies and trying to steal as much cookie dough before the cookies are actually made.  For we all know the dough is better than the actual cookies!  Later that night we went to church for the Christmas Eve service, getting all dressed up to see the candles and to hear the music that everyone has been practicing for.  To see new faces there those are people coming home again to see their families for the holidays.  To finish off the night my family will get back into our car, finding a Christmas music station as we drive around aimlessly to look at the glistening Christmas lights of yet another holiday that we are together.

Ottilie Weber is the author of End of the Line and Family Ties

For more about Ottilie and her work, please visit:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Christmas Memory with Author J. A. Clement

Another dog-inspired memory today from J. A. Clement! Find out how a sneaky little canine with a love for swiping things made for a very memorable holiday. Read on!

The Clement household is always awash with animals  but in winter, we’re usually down to Clements, Clements-in-law and a variety of dogs, for the most part.

That particular year we had just acquired two puppies – a mismatched set of black cuties, one a deerhound and the other some kind of collie-lab cross according to the previous owner. By Christmas they were just four months old and as cute as buttons. We were still trying to get them house-trained; they knew to aim for the newspaper so every time the dogs wandered into the hall where the paper was, there was a general dash to get the back door open in time.

However, there was many a false alarm. Donkey the deerhound (real name Zulu) had developed a real fascination with the drier by the door, and kept going back to have a look. Lyra, the collie-cross and baby-faced evil mastermind, took a liking to various articles of dirty laundry.

So the pups would head for the door. The family would leap off the sofa and dash into the hall. Zulu would be found looking deep and dizzily into the bowels of the drier as it spun - while Lyra would reappear, jauntily smug and dragging a pair of trousers behind her. Trousers were not the extent of her deliveries, however; pants, socks, bras, you name it, it found its way to the dog-basket in the corner. With the house full of Christmas guests, eventually we had to put the laundry basket up on the side and out of her way.

Lyra was disgusted. What spoilsports! However, being a dog of no small sneakiness, she soon found something new and interesting. She reappeared in the kitchen, clearly having a lot of fun with – something. She was throwing it up in the air and catching it, batting it with her paw so it skittered across the floor.
What could it be? We couldn’t tell, but it was tiny and green and evidently rounded enough to skitter properly.

A bit baffled, we went to take it off her but she darted across the kitchen and ensconced herself in a new den, the lower shelf of the rounded wicker table. As it stood between the sofa and the wall, we couldn't get to her or her mystery item.

Eventually it disappeared and she emerged, leaving behind only some shredded foliage; a plant of some kind. This was a bit of a puzzle- there was more in the way of  mud and puddles than greenery in the garden, in mid- December. We were slightly concerned but as it didn't appear to have disagreed with her too badly, we thought no more of it… until about an hour later when Lyra reappeared with another one. This time we managed to head her off at the pass and retrieve from her sharp little puppy teeth - a sprout! Where she was getting them from we didn’t know, but she was very taken with it and chewing away as if she hadn’t been fed for a week.

We took the second sprout from her and put it out of reach on the side but at this point Donkey retrieved it - and a battle royale kicked off! Donkey flicked her sprout up into the air. Lyra bounced up and snatched it away. Even Robbie the lazy labrador heaved himself up and gallumphed after it…but up leapt pack-leader Kinkajou, the fussiest lurcher known to mankind, and confiscated said small brassica, swallowing it whole. That told them!!

She stared them down sternly before returning to her bed in some disgust....and then Lyra appeared with another sprout. Donkey snatched it and swallowed it down, so Lyra disappeared back into the garage again. I followed in time to see her climb on the potato sack, scale the heights of the vegetable rack and retrieve a small bucket which contained the packet of sprouts which she had tucked it neatly in an obscure corner. Sneaky!

I confiscated the bucket but even so, we spent the rest of the evening finding stray sprouts buried down the back of the sofa or tucked into your slipper or partially chewed on the bench.  It was a strangely sproutilicious Christmas; and my birthday following on in January, a tiny, beautifully-wrapped box arrived through the post I leafed open the carefully folded tissue paper and possibly should not have been surprised to find inside, each tied in a bow with festive ribbon, a matched pair of Brussels sprouts, finely serrated with sharp puppy teethmarks, and a card bearing the legend “Happy Birthday from Lyra and Donkey”.

JAClement hated Christmas for many years due to being a singer (non-stop carols from September, arrrgh!). Now that she has no time to sing she has rediscovered her love of tinsel, bauble, the scents of pine and cinnamon and all sorts of festive details. She is part of a large and chaotic family with a veritable pack of dogs, cats, poultry and this week’s waifs and strays, and though currently living at the wrong end of the country, gets back to the moors and the family whenever possible.

She is author of the “On Dark Shores” fantasy series of which the next book, “The Other Nereia” will be released in early 2012 and in the meantime recommends you check out the “Christmas Lites” anthology from Creative Reviews, to which she contributed  and can tell you that the other stories are utterly excellent!

For more about J.A. and her work, please visit:

Freebie short – prequel to On Dark Shores series
Parallels: The Black-Eyed Susan