Friday, December 19

Question Friday - Holiday Edition: The Wrangler's Favorite Holiday Tradition!

Hiya, WordWranglers Readers! We're back with another Question Friday, and since we're right in the middle of the holiday season, it's another theme. This time: What is your favorite holiday tradition!

Liz says, "My favorite tradition is the Christmas tree. Okay, I know that's pretty much a cliché, but it brings the spirit home to me better than anything else, and no matter how much alike Christmas trees are, they're all different, too, and they all have their own beauty and stories within their branches. Kind of like romance novels...hmmm..."

Nan says, "For me, it has to be when my family reads Manny and Company by Charles Sylvester—a very sappy Christmas story that was written the early 1900s. It was a childhood book of my mom’s and she read it to us every Christmas. When she passed away, the book disappeared and we all looked and looked for it, but never found it, so we were without Manny for a few years. Finally, my sister found another copy somewhere on the Internet and our childhood tradition once again became a part of our family Christmas Eve celebration. I keep the book safely among my most treasured volumes and bring it to our dinner each year. We three sisters cry our hearts out over the story and our husbands all just smile at each other and hand us tissues."

Kristina says, "One of my favorite traditions happens early in the season and is usually repeated at least twice. On the Friday after Thanksgiving we load up into RadioMan's truck and drive around to see all the lights. There are several big displays in our city, along with a couple of singing light displays. I make cocoa for the car cups, we turn up the Christmas music and drive for a couple of hours. We each have our favorites and the night is as much about what's happened in the past as it is what we're seeing right now. It's one of my favorite nights of the year."

Margie says, "My favorite tradition is Christmas Stockings. I am the oldest of three sisters and when we got into our twenties, my mom decided she shouldn't have to do stockings anymore. "But," we three cried out. "That's our favorite part of Christmas." At which point my dad probably wished he'd known that sooner as it might have saved him a chunk of change all those many years.

So, it was decreed that we would draw names for stockings. So, each spring all of our names--Mom, sisters, husbands, and granddaughters--go into a hat and are drawn. It was also decreed that my sister and I couldn't get our hubby or kids as we already buy for them. This was decreed after I drew KB's name and had to buy double that year.

And on Christmas Eve, we all gather at my mom's home, eat finger foods and appetizer-type fare, and open stockings one at a time so we can all gawk and enjoy. If you asked anyone in my family what their favorite Christmas tradition was, I believe this would be their answer.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!"

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, readers! Tell us, what is your favorite holiday tradition?

Thursday, December 18


One week to go. One week.


Where did December go? If this time-warp things keeps getting worse as I get older, I'm going to have to start baking in October to have cookies by the middle of December for gift-giving.

That's what I"m doing today. Baking.

I just put my first--EVER--batch of meringue trees into the oven. And while they're baking I'm going to get some doughs going.

I don't know when I'm going to find the time to get a shower today. Not to mention wrapping presents, last-minute shopping, dropping off said cookies to friends, baking a chicken pot-pie crescent braid--look that up in Google if you want the recipe, so yummy--and....

I know I have more to do...laundry. Yep, I need clothes for work tomorrow. 

And yes, I have to get most of this done today because tomorrow I start a six-day stretch and there's is minimal energy left after work to get anything done. 

And writing? I guess the WIP will wait another day or two..January's looking good...

The picture? That's the serene scene I'm hoping to achieve in my head to drive away the chaos.  

So, off I go to get back to work on my baking. 

I wish that you all have a Merry Christmas! I know I will as it will be the first Christmas that I haven't worked in eleven years. That has a nice ring to it. 


Wednesday, December 17

Every Day A New Surprise

I've been madly decorating our house for the last couple of weeks. No, we are not Santa-and-Reindeer central, but when I attack this kind of project a little at a time I find it ends much better. With the house actually looking decorated instead of like Santa threw up on us.

My favorite thing? The past couple of years bebe has been really into LEGOs. Last year we fed that addiction with a LEGO City Advent Calendar...this year with a LEGO Friends Advent Calendar. Yeah, I know, this kind of thing promotes greed; no child need to have a 'present' to open for 24 days straight. Blah blah blah. The thing is, it's a family project. Yes, she opens the doors and puts whatever the pieces are together, but the whole project? That is a family thing. We take ten minutes out of our day to be really focused on one another. We talk and laugh and (sometimes) get aggravated because the pieces don't seem to want to go together. But it is 'us' time. And at least once more each day I catch bebe playing with the figures, remaking them into something completely new and different...and sometimes I get sucked in to playing.

So every day holds a new surprise for her. We are less than 10 days until Christmas and each day she wakes up excited to see what is next inside one of the LEGO doors. I love watching the surprise on her face when she sees what's waiting inside.

It's kind of how I feel about starting new books - every sentence, paragraph, page and day sends my characters (and me!) on a little bit of a journey to find a new surprise. Some days the surprise is good, some days not so much...but the surprise keeps me moving forward.

Do you feel that way about new WIPs? Or is the unknown more of a challenge to you?

Tuesday, December 16

Is It Just Me...

…or do we care less about housework as we get older and more involved in the things that truly interest writing? Once upon a time, Mondays and Tuesdays were housecleaning days at my home. I worked my rather round ass off scrubbing floors and bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting, doing laundry…the list was truly two full days of cleaning. And at least twice a year, everything got removed from my kitchen cupboards and my china hutch and was washed and put back away, all shiny clean. I reorganized closets at least four times a year, washed windows every spring and fall, and even got dust bunnies out from under the shelves in the garage.

But things have changed. In the last few years, scrubbing the corners of the kitchen floor with a toothbrush seems way less urgent than writing just another few pages on the work in progress. Dishes have been known to sit in my sink from breakfast until after lunch, and horror of all horrors, I confess–I haven’t cleaned my oven since July. Often a whole day will go by before I make the bed–yes, I’ve actually made the bed at five p.m. on more than one occasion. I know, at that point, why bother?

What happened to all that dedication? Well, frankly, once I started writing, it went the way of weekly meal plans, fresh baked bread, a vegetable garden, and all the other wifely ways I once took such pride in. I’m not dissing those things–not at all! I feel guilty that I’m not the perfect housekeeper I used to be. But not all that guilty because I’d rather write than clean out cupboards, and I prefer editing to lying on the garage floor on my belly, brooming out dust and leaves.

And here’s the best news: No lightening bolt comes down to strike you dead if there’s dust on the good crystal wine glasses. Hell, they clean up just as easily if you wash them right before you need them as they do when you take them out and wash them two times a year. The housekeeping sheriff doesn’t show up if you skip a week’s vacuuming, and the health department has not once been to my house to red tag my kitchen floor.

Mostly, what I’ve done is set myself free from the all the “must do in order to have a perfect house” tasks to allow time for me to write and it feels fantastic! Don’t get me wrong, I get in a cleaning frenzy every so often and I scrub until the house glows, but I no longer feel the need to spend two whole days a week at it. Once the bathrooms are cleaned, the sheets are changed, the laundry’s folded, and the kitchen is scrubbed…well, I’m done… Now back to those revisions…

Monday, December 15

Let's talk about Christmas

I went to a writers' meeting last week. They are a bunch of talented, funny, scary-smart people and I always love the meetings. I am the only romance author there--sigh--but they are (with one notable exception) supportive and kind. We are not a critique group, unless someone asks for that. We just talk and eat and laugh a lot. Usually there aren't many surprises.

However, this week, I was surprised. Out of the dozen or so of us in attendance, only about three of us really liked Christmas. Our writing assignment was about gifts, and a few didn't bother because they disliked the season to the extent they didn't want to write about gifts. A couple of the stories people read were so sad I was almost in tears.

It was a long meeting, filled with much conversation. They all loved it. I felt vaguely unsatisfied, because I do love Christmas. I think it's a happy time, a time to do good unto others (I shouldn't need a calendar reminder, but I do), a social and spiritual time. It is the only time of the year I long for the "good old days," but even then it's in a happy way.

I know, I do, that it's not this way for everyone. It's a rough time to be alone. It's different for non-Christians. Depression often rears its ugly head in huge proportions during this time. But the meeting made me wonder, and once again I'm asking questions. Everyone can answer, but I would really like to hear what other writers have to say.

Do you love Christmas? Hate it? Feel indifferent? Are you annoyed by Christians (like me) or by non-Christians (I often am--and hurt because they make fun of my beliefs at a time that is so precious in my faith)? Do you turn off the Christmas music or listen to it from October to January? How does Christmas affect your writing?

Thanks for coming by--and for the answers! Have a great day.