Old Traditions, Progress, and Winners


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.


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: Karlie Lucas

Today’s post comes from Karlie Lucas. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the drawing for one of our awesome ebook prizes.


When I was little, we used to have a big family Christmas party on Christmas Eve. Everyone would meet at Grandma’s house, where we would have a potluck style dinner and some form of entertainment. Usually that included either a talent show or a reenactment of the Nativity, with various cousins cast in the roles of the characters. Then, after all had been fed and entertained, we would go out to search for Santa.
Sometimes one of the older cousins, or an uncle, would go out in advance to make “reindeer” and sleigh tracks in the snow. When we came back inside, there would be mini stockings over the fireplace, one for every cousin, aunt, uncle, etc, filled with little goodies. After all the merriment was over, we would go out and look at Christmas lights all around the area. Sometimes we would take an hour. Sometimes it would be less. But we’d always have the Christmas station on the entire time, so that we could listen to Christmas music.
After we were all tired out, we’d head back home to put out stockings and cookies for Santa. Then, those siblings who were older would help set out a few presents, along with the stocking fillers. But there was always more out when we woke in the morning!

Karlie Lucas is a preschool teacher and a member of ANWA. A graduate of Southern Utah University, Karlie received a B.A. in Creative Writing. She is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, The International English Honor Society. She is interested in all things magical and mysterious, especially elves and dragons. She currently resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband.

You can pick up a copy of  her novel, The Unknown Elf, at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-unknown-elf-karlie-lucas/1120613735?ean=9781502367266 or http://www.amazon.com/The-Unknown-Elf-Karlie-Lucas/dp/1502367262/

Find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karliemlucas

Or at her Blog: http://tenelia.blogspot.com

Christmas Traditions: Rebecca Lameroux

Today’s post comes from the super talented Rebecca Lameroux. Don’t forget to comment to be entered in the drawing!


One of our favorite Christmas traditions growing up was turning off all the lights in the house except those on the Christmas Tree. Then we would lay on the floor around the tree and listen to classic Christmas music while watching the designs the tree lights made on the ceiling from between the branches. We always had a live Christmas tree.
This was often something we did on Christmas Eve. It was very relaxing and I think Dad and Mom did it to calm us all down so we would sleep. But we loved it every year. Then we would have all the kids sleep in the family room down stairs on Christmas Eve. We used to watch Christmas movies or old Hogan’s Heroes reruns until we fell asleep. To this day Hogan’s Heroes always reminds me of Christmas.
On Christmas morning we would get up and we had to get fully dressed before going to get our presents. We also had to eat breakfast. My mom would always make home-made granola for Christmas morning and Eggnog. After everyone was fed and dressed, would line up on the stairs in order of age – youngest to oldest with the youngest leading the line. Then we all went up into the front room where we would get our stockings and sit around the tree. Dad always handed out the gifts one at a time and we had to watch each person open their gift before the next person got his gift. Once the gifts were open we spent time making and enjoying Russian Tea and whatever was in our stockings. It was usually an apple, orange, lots of peanuts, and a few chocolates.
My Grandma and Grandpa would come over on Christmas too, usually in time to open gifts but sometimes only for dinner. Our Christmas dinner was usually more of Christmas lunch and then we’d leave it out to pick at it the rest of the day. It was rare that we ever left the house on Christmas day. We simply stayed home and enjoyed each other’s company. That was what Christmas was all about for us – simply putting everything else to the side and being together without other things demanding our time. I do miss that but I’m excited for my husband and I to make our own traditions too.

Rebecca Lamoreaux grew up reading every book she could get her hands on. Besides reading and writing, she enjoys dancing, singing, playing her viola, and riding her bike. After earning her BA in English – emphasis in Creative Writing, she traveled to and lived in several different countries, obtained many ideas for her writing, and studied literature in different cultures. She splits her time between a dental office, her book marketing business – Loving The Book, and writing when she can. Rebecca currently lives in Arizona with her husband.

You can find her at:




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.


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: Valerie Steimle


Unorthodox Christmas Traditions

As a child, my parents were unorthodox in celebrating our Christmas holiday traditions. There was a reason for that: we were Jewish. Hanukah brought wonderful holiday traditions to our house. Each of the 8 nights of Hanukah we would light the Manorah at sun down and play with dreidels (spinning tops). We would eat chocolate coins called gelt (Yiddish word for money) and in the mornings my father would make potato latckes (potato pancakes) for breakfast. The problem was we lived in a predominately Christian neighborhood and my mother felt bad (or guilty) that we couldn’t celebrate Christmas too so each Christmas we had a tree as well. One front window had the Manorah and the other front window had a somewhat decorated Christmas tree.

Now as an adult, I celebrate Christmas with my children (as I have converted to Christianity) but want to keep my Judean traditions. One front window has the Christmas tree and the other has the Manorah. Since my husband had been a Christian all of his life we added a few extra traditions.

Every December 1st, I hung a cloth Advent calendar with pockets big enough to hold small candies. Each morning, one child would take a turn to move the Christmas mouse to the next pocket and pass out candy to each child until Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve we read the Story of the Christ Child from Luke chapter two along with reading The Journey of the Magi which was one of my husband’s favorite. We would give one gift to each of our children that night to open which was usually pajamas and then in the morning we would sit in a big circle around the tree. My husband would pass out one gift at a time instead of the mad dash which made opening presents last much longer and we could savor every minute.

Part of the children’s Christmas stocking treat was receiving their favorite box of cereal so they would eat that for breakfast and we would eat Christmas dinner later that afternoon. Christmas was a reminder to all of us how grateful we were for the Savior and we would anonymously deliver a plate of Christmas cookies to our neighbors.

Picture 355

Valerie Steimle is the mother of nine children living in southern Alabama and has been a family advocate for the past 25 years. She is the author of five books including Thoughts From the Heart: Writings from the Gulf Coast of Alabama which is a collection of her column of living life in Alabama and what is important. Visit her website http://www.strengthenyourfamily.com or her blog http://valeriesteimle.blogspot.com for more information on her books or you can email her at valeriesteimle@yahoo.com