Old Traditions, Progress, and Winners

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When I was little and not so little my dad would read to me. He has the most melodious baritone voice and he always does voices. But the coolest part is that he can read upside down. So he would sit looking down over the page while my siblings and I sat at his feet looking at the pictures. Every Christmas he would read us Tree of Cranes by Allen Say and The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. They are beautiful stories that put life in perspective and added culture to our family holiday. Then of course, he would read from Luke 2 and Matthew 2. When we were little we would act out the story as he read, but as we got older we would just sit and listen; letting the experience of the journey to Bethlehem, the rejection at the inn, the astonished shepherds, the singing angels, and the new born babe wash over us.

Well, as it turns out, the ability to read upside down is genetic. So as I said at the beginning of the week I am starting a tradition of my own. Each night my kids gather after dinner for a Christmas story. Thing is, my kids are young, with ages ranging from 8yrs to just over 3 months. So it’s been hit and miss. Add in that a sinus demon has taken up residence in my head and well, we only made it through three stories this week. But the kids look forward to it. They ask if they are going to have a Christmas story tonight. I think they feel the difference in the spirit, the feeling that accompanies each one. Some are fun and others are more serious. This week’s books were The Bear’s Christmas by Stan and Jan Berenstain, The Twelve Days of Christmas retold by Jane Cabrera, and A Christmas Bell for Anya by Chris Stewart and Ben Sowards. The kids particularly liked the twelve days retelling which featured cute cats, drumming dogs, and five shining stars rather than the traditional fair. They also liked the fact that I sang it rather than read it. But the Bear’s Christmas was funny and Ben Sowards illustrations for Anya are just beautiful. So even though it isn’t a week’s forth of books, I think it is a start.

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Ok, now what you actually stopped by to see: E-book winners!! As generated by random.org-

Winner of The Accidental Apprentice and Mechanized Masterpieces bundle is Camille

Winner of The Christmas Tree Keeper by Tamara Passey is Linda Crowder

Winner of Margaret Turley’s Never Again is Angela Carling

And Winner of Chimmenken Crossing the Delaware by Diane Jortner is Peggy Urry.

Winners will be emailed their prizes within the week.

Thank you to everyone who participated and to those who just stopped by. Happy Holidays everyone!!

Christmas Traditions: Diane Jortner

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway! At this point your odds of winning are REALLY good!

When I think of Christmas traditions, the one that has remained with me started with a story, a story my father’s mother told him. And since mothers never lie—and I know that to be true, since I have been a mother these many, many years, I believe this story even today.

The Peter Elf story started during a rough time: the depression. Families struggled to get bread on the table, and shoes on their children’s feet.  My father was the oldest and lived way out of town in small home, on the family farm in Southern Alberta.  I visited it once or twice and was shown the back sleeping porch where the boys lay out the cots in the spring a summer. I learned to shoot tin cans on that property.
Grandma Lee, as we called her, mothered four rambunctious boys. (I know they were rambunctious, as I witnessed their tricks and laughs once or twice a year when we would get together as families.  To pass the time, help entertain, and teach valuable lessons, she told stories. Most of her stories, sadly, are lost in a time before typewriters and Word and icloud, but the story of Peter Elf lives on in the homes and memories of many of her descendants. As with most stories mothers tell, and most fables, this is a story with a message. The message is the gratitude.

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The Story of Peter Elf


 As told by my father Ken Lee 
who heard it from his mother May Lee

As the magical Christmas day approached, little Peter became gloomy and irritable. His fellow elves tried to cheer him up. “We are on vacation next week,” his friends cried. “Here you can tie the ribbon on Suzy’s package” Olaf offered. “Drink some of this amazing hot chocolate,“ Melinda urged.

But nothing would cheer up this pint-sized six-inch North Pole Elf.  He just sat on his workbench and stared out into the ice and snow covered land. Finally, at the request of the North Pole Happiness Committee, Santa himself called Peter into his cozy sitting room for a talk.
To read the rest of The Story of Peter Elf click over to
Diane’s website.

Even since childhood Diane (D. Lee Jortner) has loved fantasy and mystery. Playing with imaginary friends and writing and directing neighborhood plays filled her youth. The first of her historical fantasy series, CHIMMEKEN CROSSES THE DELAWARE was released in November 2014. Which you can get here. More in the series will be available soon.

Working as a marketing specialist for Xchyler Publishing introduced her to Steampunk and her first Steampunk story will be published in February 2015 in Mechanized Masterpieces II: A Steampunk Anthology.
Her YA murder mystery Corpse in Kitchen 3 will also be released in 2015. 
When not writing, Ms. Jortner teaches English Composition at Ivy Tech Community college in Valparaiso, Indiana or hangs with her husband Larry and her seven children and five grandchildren (and still counting).

Find her on Facebook!

Christmas Traditions: A New One for Me and Mine

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So if you didn’t gather from the last post, I love Christmas!! I love the lights. I love the combining smells of cinnamon and conifer. Of course, I love every excuse to bake all things yummy and pretty. But what I love best are the stories. No shock there as I am a writer. In fact, every year that I am able I reread Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and A Cricket on the Hearth. This year I am adding, In the Dark Streets Shineth, if I can manage it, to my grown up Christmas reading.

But more than that I am adding two new Christmas traditions. Before I tell you what they are though, I am going to riff on tradition a bit.

I’m not one who is all for tradition for tradition’s sake. Too often we get stuck doing things just because that’s the way we’ve always done them. But thoughtful, meaningful rituals that mark the passing of the year can have a powerfully positive affect on our lives. Traditions connect us to our heritage. They remind of the struggles of the past, where we came from, and help us keep perspective as we move into the future. When we disregard tradition simply because it is old, we may call it out-dated, we lose the part of ourselves that is humble enough to learn from and honor the past and those that have gone before. And Christmas is a great time both to show reverence to that past and also to learn from its mistakes.

So this year, since my goals for the New Year mostly center on being the kind of mother I want to be, I am starting a new tradition with my kids. I have a pretty impressive collection of Christmas books. It is time they saw the light of day, and lit up my children’s lives. So this year, and I hope every year from now on, I will engage in a kind of literary advent calendar. A Christmas story every night. I do have a few that are a bit longer, and may take more than one night to read. And despite my kid’s young ages, I anticipate miraculous results. We will culminate with the story of the first Christmas read from the Bible on Christmas Eve. I will pop in each week to tell you which books we read and how they went.

For my second new tradition I wanted to start a yearly event for this blog. My favorite blogs have something that they do every year that is either fun or meaningful, so I figured, me too! So every day this week we will hear from a different author about the Christmas traditions they remember from childhood or do with their kids or whatever! Anyone who comments on the post will be entered into a drawing. We have four wonderful e-book prizes: The Anika Arrington bundle including The Accidental Apprentice and Mechanized Masterpieces- A Steampunk Anthology, Tamara Passey’s The Christmas Tree Keeper, Margaret Turley’s Never Again, or Diane Jortner’s Chimmeken Crossing the Delaware: An American Historical Fantasy. Winners will be announced on Sunday Dec. 7th. I hope you will enjoy getting to know how the Christmas Spirit is kept alive in their lives as much as I have. And that it inspires some new Christmas traditions of your own! Good Luck and happy reading!