12 Blogs of Christmas: How Mrs. Claus Got Her Groove Back

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How Mrs. Claus Got Her Groove Back

A fresh log glowed red in the fireplace; garland and twinkling lights lined the mantel. A most cheerful picture, normally, but the yuletide trappings still left Emma Claus cold. She’d tried everything to awaken her Christmas spirit: hitting the Black Friday sales online, reading letters from the children, baking tray after tray of cookies. Even the sappiest of holiday movies failed to lift her mood—even the ones with Colin Firth.

Just to make sure she’d given Hollywood a fair shake, she clicked the remote to the Hallmark Channel, which was showing the same snowed-in romance brewing at the same over-decorated country inn. Emma merely clucked her tongue. “Fools,” she said. “Do those innkeepers ever sleep? All that work! Cooking and cleaning! Sweeping up pine needles, drizzling everything with tinsel just so, tending the fires in every room and dusting twice a day from all the ash…what kind of life is that?”

And then her gaze fell to her own labor-roughened hands, still clutching a dishtowel, and she wept. She hadn’t even heard Santa walk into the room. “What’s this?” he said, voice so kindly that she cried harder. “Tears, Mrs. Claus? During the most magical time of the year?”

She shook her head and dabbed at her eyes with the cloth. “Oh, it’s just the story.” Emma gestured to the television. “This one makes me weepy every time I see it.”

The lines in his face softened. She could never get away with lying to him, the man who’d patented the Naughty/Nice meter. “Don’t you dare say it,” she squeaked out. “Don’t you dare say the same old things about bringing joy to the children.” Granted, it was an admirable mission. And she was grateful. Decades earlier he’d rescued her, a poor orphan girl from the village, and found her a job in the factory. Then, when she reached marriageable age, he’d made her the beloved bride of the most generous man in the world. But clearly, something was missing.

He nodded once, and then twice, and then muttered, “I’ll be in my workshop.”

She sucked in a few deep breaths and made a deal with herself to hold it together, for his sake. She’d done this forever, after all. Sat by the fire on Christmas Eve monitoring the sleigh’s progress on NORAD, fed the hungry elves, met him on the launch pad when he returned. And then endured the silence and loneliness when, exhausted, he collapsed into bed and slept for days. The sleep of a man happily consumed by his work.

Somehow, Emma managed to get through the long, bereft days leading up to the Big Night. Santa had to have noticed the misshapen cookies, the lackluster dinners, the depth of her sighs. Smart man that he was, though, he said nothing. Just made himself a sandwich and retreated to the company of his elves.

Then Christmas Eve came. As she’d done for more years than she could count, she pressed his velvet suit, polished his boots, and left him to dress while she prepared his favorite pre-flight meal. But he didn’t come down. She called for him, and he answered in a deep, wrenching moan.

Emma sprinted up the stairs and gasped when she saw him. In bed, clutching his belly. “Oh. Oh, my dear,” he said. “I don’t think… I don’t think I’ll be able to make it. Just the thought of… Call the elves…” And then he passed out.

Her eyes widened and she rushed to him, pressing a hand to his less-than-rosy cheek. Still breathing and heart strong, thank God, although clearly he was in no state to travel. He’d never missed Christmas. There were emergency provisions, of course, in the event that NORAD had to alter his flight plans, but it had been such a long time and all had gone so smoothly that she didn’t even know where the binder was. She managed to calm herself enough to make the call. Doc Elf was on his way, and the other elves had been alerted, but there was still the matter of distributing the presents.

Emma took a few steadying breaths. The elves were good, and the factory ran well, but how could she trust them with this most important task, which she and Santa had magicked together from the very beginning. She eyeballed the red suit hanging in the corner and felt a shiver sweep down her spine.

She would do it herself.

With wobbling hands she dressed in the velvet coat and trousers, with shaky fingers adding the belt and cinching it tight. “I don’t want to leave your side, Mr. Claus,” she said to the prostrate, bearded lump of man on the bed as she smoothed the white hair from his forehead. “But we don’t have Amazon drones and these Kindles aren’t going to deliver themselves.”

As she fit the cap over her silver curls and strode for the door, a bit of the process started coming back to her. By now, the elves would have already assembled the sleigh and the reindeer; on many occasions of late, Santa had waved off praise for his efforts, saying that he had automated the practice so well that basically all he had to do on the Big Night was sit back and let Rudolph’s GPS guide the way. And thanks to her good cooking, she’d grown as well padded in the belly as he, so she doubted that anyone spying them from a distance would notice it was not Saint Nick at the reins.

Still, she allowed the air traffic controller to help her into the cockpit and nodded as he rattled off a list of instructions, a mix of excitement and dread spiraling through her stomach. Finally, with a last wave from the ground crew, she was cleared for takeoff. Emma gulped as the sleigh began a vertical ascent from the launch pad. She grabbed onto whatever was handy, bracing herself to be jostled about, but she soon discovered that there was no need. Even when they zoomed off into the night, climbing higher and higher, there was not a bump or a jolt to be felt. And soon she released the death grip she’d had on the upholstery and the dash—she’d even put down the reins and whooped like a giddy child on an amusement park ride.

The radio crackled, and a small voice cleared its throat. “With all due respect, Mrs. Claus, we need to focus on the task at hand. Just follow the coordinates on the monitor and you’ll find the addresses—”

“Oh, pish on that,” she said, emboldened by the magical ride and the power of being in the driver’s seat. “This was meant to be a labor of joy, not one for the auto-pilot. I’ve read all the letters; I’ve followed the radar maps for years; I know where the children live.” She laughed as she clicked off the radio, imagining all sorts of fright going on at headquarters, the gossip among the elves: The missus has gone rogue. “Hit it, Rudolph.” She flicked the reins. “It’s you, me, and your eight buddies tonight. Just the way it was supposed to be.”

And, following the stars, they flew from the North Pole all around the world, landing on rooftops of the good and the naughty, for she believed everyone deserved a little magic on Christmas. When every last gift was delivered, she directed Rudolph to take them home. She was still giggling with delight when nine sets of hooves touched down lightly on the launch pad. For a moment she sat, laughing up at the stars as a gentle snow began to fall and the sleigh’s bells jingled to a stop.

“Santa!” she gasped, remembering his state, and leaving the reindeer to the stable master, rushed into the house.

And there, playing video games, all manner of junk food spread before them, sat her husband and three of his elves. The old sod had never looked healthier in his life. When he noticed her staring, he gave her a slow grin and a wink. “Red is definitely your color, my dear.”

She pressed her fists into her hips. “You conniving b—”

“Ah. Language in front of the elves.” He jammed the joystick forward and digital explosions blasted from the speakers. Then he let loose a jolly ho-ho-ho. “Come on, admit it,” he said. “You’ve always wanted to drive that sleigh. And you’ve never liked auto-pilot.”

A blush overtook her face at being found out. And then a smile. “Can I do it again next year?”

He lifted his shaggy white brows. “If you always come home to me looking so happy, you can take the reins for the rest of our lives. Although we’ll have to fashion you a fake beard.” He patted the cushion next to him. “Now park it and let’s celebrate a job well done. I saved you some pizza.”

—-

Thank you to Martin Crosbie for pulling this holiday event together. I hope you’ll join us tomorrow for Heather Haley.

Miss one of the days? Here are the blogs posted so far:

Dec. 13   Ellen Chauvet

Dec. 14   Sarah Lane

Dec. 15   Keith Baker

Dec. 16   Virginia Gray

Dec. 17   Gordon Long

Dec. 18   RJ Crayton

Dec. 19   Jennifer Ellis

 

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12 Blogs of Christmas: Jennifer Ellis

JenniferEllisWelcome back! Today’s blogger is Jennifer Ellis. Jennifer lives in the mountains of British Columbia where she can be found writing, hiking, skiing, borrowing dogs, and evading bears. She also works as a climate change researcher, evaluator and strategic planner. She has wanted to be a writer since she first read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and didn’t want to come out of the wardrobe.

Jennifer writes science fiction, romance and dystopian fiction for children and adults, including In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation and A Pair of Docks, which was a bestseller in children’s time travel fiction. She has also contributed to several anthologies, most notably Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel, which hit #16 in the Kindle Store.

You can subscribe to her blog for writing tips, industry insights, and two free short stories at www.jenniferellis.ca, and check out her writing on Amazon at: http://bit.ly/jenniferellis. She tweets about writing, cats, and teenagers at @jenniferlellis.

Excerpt

I’m once again participating in the 12 Blogs of Christmas with eleven other writers, organized by Martin Crosbie. As part of the event, we are to write about—not surprisingly—Christmas. Many of the other eleven bloggers have written about fond or funny memories of Christmas. Last year, I wrote about my fraught relationship with Christmas—acknowledging the magic of Christmas but also the busy-ness, commercial aspects, and guilt associated with Christmas (we have so much, and so many people have so little). So I can’t do that again. Most of my stories about Christmas go something like… we got too much, ate too much, spent too much (even though we don’t spend that much), stressed about a turkey, and were really happy to be able to go skiing and eat leftovers on Boxing Day.

I exaggerate. I’m sure I’ve had some nice Christmases, but since I’m often up to my elbows in a turkey, and have not had any famous disasters, they are not the stuff of stories. Then again, my memory is famously poor—all that living half the time in another world. This year I’ll be sure to burn the turkey, so I have something to tell you about next year (Hmm, I’m getting a strong turkey vibe here. It might be time to start serving Christmas steak).

To me, Christmas is about gratitude and reflection on a year gone by. In an effort to dredge up some Christmas spirit (and not seem like cross between Eeyore and the Grinch—I promise I’m actually not—Christmas commercials make me cry), I decided to do a post on the 12 writing things I’m most grateful for this Christmas. That’s not to imply that there are not a lot of non-writing things I am grateful for (there are so many of those things), but this is a writing blog (and I think this sentence is a triple-negative) so… [Read more…]

Tomorrow some author named Laurie Boris is sharing a Christmas story. 

Miss one of the days? Here are the blogs posted so far:

Dec. 13   Ellen Chauvet

Dec. 14   Sarah Lane

Dec. 15   Keith Baker

Dec. 16   Virginia Gray

Dec. 17   Gordon Long

Dec. 18   RJ Crayton

 

12 Blogs of Christmas: RJ Crayton

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Welcome back! Today’s blogger is RJ Crayton.

RJ Crayton is a little young lady who writes fiction when she’s not parenting her two children or wifing her one husband. She writes about characters in peril, who sometimes find a moment for romance. Crayton is occasionally humorous, often right, and always curious. She loves the Christmas season and baking. Due to her severe cupcake addiction, Crayton tries to avoid baking cupcakes, except during the holidays. (As an aside, for the perfect mesh of holiday cheer and cupcakes, check out this recipe.) Crayton has published a three-book dystopian series (Life First), a book on self publishing and a short story collection about motherhood. She also is a contributor at Indies Unlimited, a site for independent publishers. In 2016, Crayton plans to release a novel about a deadly virus and a humorous book on motherhood. You can learn more about her at http://www.rjcrayton.com.

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RJCrayton_12Blogs_PostPic_Dec18The Place for Humbug During the Holiday Season

Bah, humbug!

There, I said it.

I know. It’s the Christmas season. Everything is warm and fuzzy like in greeting cards, sappy viral videos and TV movies. Only, it’s not all warm and fuzzy all the time, because greeting cards and video specials aren’t real life. Everyone feels like saying, “Bah, humbug,” at least once during the holiday season. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s not that the season isn’t full of joy. It’s just that the season is also full of commitments — clashing office holiday parties, school parties, recitals, plays, church performances, family gatherings, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes you just want to shout, “Bah, humbug,” hop into bed, and huddle under the covers with a flashlight and your favorite book. (Those old enough to remember may even want to hop into a tub, and shout, “Calgon, take me away.”)

So, this is just a little post to remind you that you get to have a “Bah, humbug” moment or two this holiday season. Not everything will go the way you want it to. There’s someone you’ll want to see, who you can’t see. You’ll have family you don’t want to see, who you have to see.

… Read the rest of this article here.

Up next: Jennifer Ellis

Miss one of the days? Here are the blogs posted so far:

Dec. 13   Ellen Chauvet

Dec. 14   Sarah Lane

Dec. 15   Keith Baker

Dec. 16   Virginia Gray

Dec. 17   Gordon Long

12 Blogs of Christmas: Gordon Long

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Welcome back! Today’s blogger is Gordon Long. Brought up in a logging camp with no electricity, Gordon Long learned his storytelling in the traditional way: at his father’s knee. He spends his time editing, publishing, travelling, sailboat racing and writing fantasy and social commentary, although sometimes the boundaries blur.

Gordon lives in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, with his wife, Linda, and their Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Josh. When he isn’t publishing, he works on projects with the Surrey Seniors’ Planning Table.

———-

A Cold Canadian Christmas

My transportation for the Christmas of 1967 was Dad’s 1958 Mercury pickup. It was one of the first “full box” pickups, instead of the old “step sides,” and I thought it was pretty classy. Think of the picture above with a front bumper and a two-tone paint job: white above, teal below. I was home from university, and Dad was out of the bush because it was too cold to work, so I was pretty well free to drive it around. Loggers can’t work below about -30 because metal gets so brittle that equipment breaks. It’s rather hard on people, too.

Yes, the Christmas of 1967 was rather cold. I came home from visiting friends on Boxing Day, and the weather report said it was going to be -60F that night (That’s -51 for you Celsius types). I plugged in the block heater of the pickup and waited for that reassuring gurgle that told me it was working.

No gurgle. [Read more…]

Gordon has published two books this Christmas:

“Mountains of Mischief” Book 3 in the World of Change series

“Storm over Savournon” a novel of the French Revolution

Tomorrow’s blogger: RJ Crayton

Miss one of the days? Here are the blogs posted so far:

Dec. 13   Ellen Chauvet

Dec. 14   Sarah Lane

Dec. 15   Keith Baker

Dec. 16   Virginia Gray

 

12 Blogs of Christmas: Virginia Gray

IMG_9021_4044 WEB copyHappy Wednesday! Virginia Gray is a bestselling women’s fiction novelist. A former university professor, she stepped away from academics to pursue a writing career. She is a great lover of humor, music, and all things food, and is best known for The Susan Wade Saga. You can read more about Virginia on her website.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

I wasn’t always so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to believe—very badly, in fact. I also wanted to believe in the stories I read. I wanted to know for sure that there had been a Middle Earth, where hobbits and wizards and dragons ran amuck. I prayed that Narnia existed, and that I might be lucky enough to discover one of its secret passages—they’re everywhere, you know. I truly hoped there were wrinkles in time, and that I might be called upon to save our very universe. I wanted to believe in magic! Read more…

See you tomorrow with Gordon Long.

Miss one of the days? Here are the blogs posted so far:

Dec. 13   Ellen Chauvet

Dec. 14   Sarah Lane

Dec. 15   Keith Baker

 

12 Blogs of Christmas: Keith R. Baker

Keith R. BakerWelcome back! Today’s blogger is Keith R. Baker. In addition to being an avid history and genealogy buff, Keith has been an avid outdoorsman his entire life. He has a variety of hats in the business world after completing two periods of duty with the US Navy.  His hobbies apart from reading and research include shooting, teaching others the basics of gun safety and handling. Until recently he took an active role in local and regional politics as a public speaker and campaign consultant.

Keith and his wife Leni have enjoyed living several places in the US, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Montana. They have two adult children, two adult foster children and nine grandchildren scattered around the country. www.keithrbaker.com

Fire in the Snow

The big man’s boot carefully kicked aside a remaining hunk of what appeared to be a roof rafter. Burnt nearly to ash, it had almost no weight to it. Still, it was best to be careful. Any of the smoldering pile of debris that had been their family home could yet be white-hot. He didn’t need a burnt foot; he had enough trouble already.

Rob Finn’s young family had few enough possessions before the fire. Now, it seemed, they had none. Farming their tiny acreage had barely provided enough food in the good times. Along with everything else they’d lost, even their supply of necessary food stuffs were gone. What would they do? Read more…

Links

Amazon Author Page
Facebook
Twitter
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Current Promotion:

Read about Rob Finn and his family in the Longshot series, beginning with Longshot In Missouri, price reduced through Christmas, here.

Hope to see you tomorrow when Virginia Gray will be our featured blogger.

Miss one of the days? Here are the blogs posted so far:

Dec. 13   Ellen Chauvet

Dec. 14   Sarah Lane

 

 

The 12 Blogs of Christmas: Sarah Lane

Sarah Lane photoWelcome back! Today’s blogger is Sarah Lane.

Sarah Lane is the author of The God of My Art, the story of a young woman’s journey to become an artist, and a quarter finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Lane’s short fiction and poetry have also featured in a number of literary magazines, including The Antigonish Review, Roar Magazine, and Quills: Canadian Poetry Magazine.

Lane’s upcoming young adult novel is a psychological read about a cerebral seventeen-year-old who struggles to learn salsa dancing only to be shown up by her doppelgänger. (You can sign up on her website to be notified when it comes out).

Sarah Lane hopes you will enjoy listening to this reading from her young adult crossover novel The God of My Art. This chapter is taken from near the end of the book, when Helene visits her mother over the winter holidays. Watch the video here. Or view on her website.

(Next up: Keith Baker)

Miss one of the days? Here are the blogs posted so far:

Dec. 13   Ellen Chauvet

 

The 12 Blogs of Christmas: Ellen Chauvet

EllenChauvet_2015-2049-Edit-Edit-5Happy Sunday! We’re kicking off our 12 Blogs of Christmas Tour with author Ellen Chauvet. Ellen lives in Vancouver, Canada, where long months of rain are particularly conducive to writing dark stories. You can learn more about her at her website.

Here is what she wrote:

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

Composed by Clement C. Moore

____________________________________________________

When Martin Crosbie invited me to participate in the 12 blogs of Christmas I immediately said yes. I’ve always treasured Christmas and the opportunity to share my love of Clement Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nick” poem appealed to me. After several hours of research, the following is what I gleaned.

(Up next: Sarah Lane)

 

The 12 Blogs of Christmas

12 Blogs of Christmas (2)Hi, everyone!

I’m so excited to be part of the 12 Blogs of Christmas, and thank you to my friend Martin Crosbie for setting up this blog-hop party for the second year. Twelve days, twelve blogs, twelve authors. We start on December 13. Nothing to sign up for, no fancy randomizer rafflecopter gizmos. Just great writing. I hope you enjoy our stories and memories.

Here’s the lineup. Each day I’ll post a bit about each author, an excerpt from his or her post, and a link where you can read the rest. Happy holidays!

Dec. 13   Ellen Chauvet

Dec. 14   Sarah Lane

Dec. 15   Keith Baker

Dec. 16   Virginia Gray

Dec. 17   Gordon Long

Dec. 18   RJ Crayton

Dec. 19   Jennifer Ellis

Dec. 20   Laurie Boris

Dec. 21   Heather Haley

Dec. 22   Jordan Buchanan

Dec. 23   Cate Pedersen

Dec. 24   Martin Crosbie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two-Minutes-Go Extended Road Trip

file0001863294772Well. Apparently I failed to break the blog last week, so while JD is giving Santa Claus a lift to the North Pole on his motorcycle, I felt duty-bound to step in again. That’s the new cover story for the NSA. Don’t tell them I said that.

Or, in a passage I stole from his website:

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON’T IDENTIFY AS ‘WRITERS’ – all are welcome here! Every Friday, we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!

Write whatever you want in the ‘comments’ section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds … no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send ’em here to read your ‘two’ and encourage them to play. 

Here’s one to start us off:

Ezra barely slept that night. The decision had been forming and unforming in his mind, sparking him out of fitful catnaps as he weighed the consequences of each choice. As he slurped coffee and stared into his squinty-eyed reflection the next morning, he knew he couldn’t leave it to a simple coin flip. There was right, and there was wrong, and he might lose his job or worse, but when he laced up his boots and ground step after step into the frozen earth on his way to the factory, he knew what had to be done. He was careful to greet his coworkers the same way as always, with smiles and backslaps and the same, tired jokes. Pushing out enthusiasm that he didn’t feel, because if they sensed anything was different, they might suspect. He might be called out to face the Big Boss, who surely would ask why the change in attitude. And then he could not lie. He was not bred for lies. When he took his place at the assembly line, he had to crush his hands into fists to hide the shaking, and when the aproned worker to his left seemed to notice this small gesture, he laughed and said, “Must be the cold,” and she handed him a pair of fingerless gloves. He would probably miss her the most.

The bell rang, signaling the start to their shift, and the conveyor belt began to move. Ezra sucked in a deep breath and steadied himself on increasingly unsteady legs. Heart pounding in his oversized ears, he let the base assembly pass him by. And then another. He knew it wouldn’t take long for them to notice; one elf not doing his or her work was bound to gum up the operation and fast.

A light flashed. The line supervisor called his name. The room went silent. Ezra waited, hands raised, as if in surrender. He cleared his throat and swallowed, then spun to face the head elf.

“I don’t care,” he said. Forcing more strength into his words. “Put me on dolls or trains or teddy bears. Or banish me from the workshop. But I’m not making toy guns anymore.”