THE WRITER’S GRAPEVINE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER HOLIDAY EXTRAVAGANZA EDITION

THE WRITER’S GRAPEVINE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER HOLIDAY EXTRAVAGANZA EDITION

Purple grapes hang from green vines which frame the upper half of the image. A translucent white banner provides the backdrop for a scripted font that reads "Holiday Extravaganza" at the top. Below, stylized white text reads "The Writer's Grapevine" with smaller vines under the lettering. 
Two stylized foxes dance playfully in the grass. On the left is a white fox, coiled in the air from a jump. It has a cream colored coat with a white belly, gray socks on all four feet, and a fluffy tail. On the right is a red fox, landing on its front feet, with back feet still in the sky. It has an orange-red coat with a white belly, fluffy tail, and gray socks on all feet.

THE WRITER’S GRAPEVINE NOVEMBER – DECEMBER HOLIDAY EXTRAVAGANZA EDITION

BY PATTY L. FLETCHER

A PUBLICATION OF TELL-IT-TO-THE-WORLD MARKETING (AUTHOR, BLOGGER, BUSINESS ASSIST)

DECEMBER 2021

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GREETINGS…

Hello everyone, happy holidays, and welcome to another incredible edition of the Writer’s Grapevine.

How do I know it’s incredible? Because it’s filled with “incredible” contributors. But the proof is, as they say, “in the pudding.” Or, in this case, on the page. So grab your favorite drink, snuggle down into your most comfortable reading nest, and ready yourself for some great discoveries.

This month we have new releases, great articles, and reports of things to come. So without further ado, here’s the Writer’s Grapevine just for you.

Of course, as always, you’re invited to share. Just make sure to send out the entire magazine. If you choose to share specific items, please copy each one in its completion, thus giving the author or business full credit.

My special thanks to Claire Plaisted of PLAISTED PUBLISHING HOUSE LTD FOR FORMATTING and Mara Reitsma of COVERED BY THE ROSE for the magazine cover. Contractor for Plaisted Publishing House Author Consultant at http://www.plaistedpublishinghouse.com. And Colleen and Dawn from Two Pentacles Publishing at http://www.twopentacles.com for assistance with editing and photo descriptions. As well as the seasonal design additions to this month’s themed cover.

This season, the cover features two foxes, one red and one white, playing in the grass. Colleen from Two Pentacles chose to depict two foxes, each wearing a different season’s coat, because foxes are often used in art representing the summer and winter solstices.

SPONSORS…

Too busy to take on a full-time promotion package and all the work that entails? How about becoming a sponsor? Little work. Lots of results.

Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing (Author, Blogger, Business Assist) is now seeking sponsors to keep our prices reasonable, so those who cannot afford the high cost of advertising will have a place to turn for part of their marketing needs.

Here at Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing, we marry social media marketing with more traditional approaches. We strive to assist clients with promoting their books, blogs, and small businesses.

What will you, as a sponsor of Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing, receive?

If you become a sponsor of Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing, you will receive:

An ad or ads up to 500 words in length on the sponsor page of my blog will remain until you either request them removed or ask to update in some way

A spot in my monthly online magazine, the Writer’s Grapevine, and:

A spot in the annual Writer’s Grapevine Holiday Extravaganza.

Your ads will also be used in Facebook events held on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/tellittotheworld, and in articles and essays found on my blog.

The price for becoming a sponsor is $30.00 every 90 days or is free with a one-year full package.

We take payment via PayPal at: https://paypal.me/tellittotheworld?locale.x=en_US

We have many sponsors, and the actual sponsor page, which is found on my blog, is quite long. To put up their ads in full would take an enormous portion of this magazine. Rather than put up pages of ads, I’m going to list their names and how to find them. You can, of course, visit the sponsor page on my blog and see all their ads in full, including photos. Keep in mind the sponsor page is a work in progress and is always being updated, so be sure to check back often.

That having been said, you may occasionally note that there are some new additions here that haven’t yet made it onto the blog. So, in the meantime, here are all this month’s sponsors.

COLONIAL HEIGHTS ANIMAL HOSPITAL
Website:
http://www.colonialheightsvet.com

AUTHOR JO E. PINTO
New Release 2020
Apples of Gold

 

TIMELY ADVICE WHEN THE WORLD DOESN’T SEEM LOVELY
By Jo Elizabeth Pinto
Author Website:
https://www.brightsideauthor.com

MEREDITH LEIGH BURTON: THE CHOCOLATE DOG
Author Website:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GC3HNYB/

EZ2SEEPRODUCTS
Learn all about the totally unique, 8.5” x 11” EZ2See®Weekly Planner/Calendar, Specialty Visually Challenged Friendly Sticky Notepads and Markers at Website:
http://www.EZ2SeeProducts.com

PLAISTED PUBLISHING HOUSE LTD
Author Consultant Website:
http://www.plaistedpublishinghouse.com

AUTHOR AND ARTIST LYNDA MCKINNEY LAMBERT
Lynda McKinney Lambert announces
Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems now available on Audible
Author Website:
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Lynda+McKinney+Lambert&i=audible&

CASEY MATHEWS OF WEBFRIENDLYHELP
Virtual Tech Advisor and Research Assistant
Website:
https://webfriendlyhelp.com

AUTHORS TASHA AND STEPHEN HALPERT
Shop for Stephen and Tasha’s books, Abacadabra Moonshine & Other Stories by Stephen Halpert, Up to My Neck in Lemons, and other books by Tasha Halpert
Author Website:
https://smile.amazon.com/

AUTHOR ANNE COPELAND
Pumpkin, Pumpkin
Folklore, History, Planting Care, and Good Eating
by Anne Copeland (C 2019)
Author Website:
https://www.amazon.com/Pumpkin-Folklore-History-Planting-Eating/dp/1719980985/

AUTHOR AND BLIND PHOTOGRAPHER PRAANAV LAL
Author Website:
https://pranavwrites.com/

 

JOHN CRAWFORD’S SCHOOL OF MUSIC
Website:
https://johncrawfordschoolofmusic.wordpress.com

MARLENE MESOT
Author of The Purging Fire and Other Titles
Author Website:
http://www.marlsmenagerie.com

AUTHOR BUTTERFLY THOMAS
In My Feelings: A Book of Poetry
Author Website:
https://www.dldbooks.com/bthomas/

TWO PENTACLES PUBLISHING SERVICES
Website:
http://www.twopentacles.com

ANTHONY CANDELA
Stand Up Or Sit Out: Memories and Musings Of a Blind Wrestler, Runner, and All-around Regular Guy and
Vision Dreams: A Parable
Author Website:
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Anthony+Candela&i=stripbooks

WHAT’S UP…

Hi everyone, and welcome to the What’s Up column!

Before we begin with all the fantastic contributions, I’d just like to say that the feedback I’m getting about this column is quite impressive. It turns out our readers seriously love knowing about what our writers, business owners, and nonprofit workers are up to. Please, contributors, keep those letters about all your goings-on coming.

We’re gonna kick off the holiday season with Friend and fellow author poet Joan Myles who’s sure to light up our world.

On One Foot – Brief Tidbits About Me and Those I Love
December 6, 2021
By Joan Myles

light the lights

and sing with cheer

warm away the cold and drear

raise a glass and huddle near

Holiday greetings Darling Friends!

Winter may be trying to wrap the world in darkness and cold, but if you are like me, you find simple ways to hold on until Spring.

And hopefully the holidays help.

For J and me, Thanksgiving is all about family, food and fun. And we’re also about making the best of things no matter what. Last year that meant meeting our kids in the rain and exchanging food and distant smiles, then Zooming together for dinner. This year was much sweeter. Not only was the day sunny and moderately mild (about 55 degrees) but we were all vaccinated…so lots of hugs all around! We still gathered and dined outside, but we were inside a large tent around a fabulous propane heater. I have never known such true warmth, such simple joy of family.

Hanukkah, too, is a commitment to Light despite darkness. We light candles for 8 nights and marvel at the expanding glow the season brings to our homes, our hearts. We kindle flames, but mostly we strive to kindle the Light within ourselves…to better warm one another and all we encounter.

Christmas is another opportunity to share the Light of Love during the darkest time of the year. As I exchange greetings and gifts with friends and strangers alike, I can’t help basking in the glow of human contact, and the warmth of Love Divine.

Wishing you Love and Light Galore today and always, Dear Readers!

Joan Myles has always been a child of Wonder as well as a spiritual seeker. When she lost her sight at the age of 12, these qualities and writing poetry saved her from despair.

Joan earned a B.A. in Education, a Master’s in Jewish Studies. She married, raised four lively children, worked as a Rehabilitation Teacher, and taught Hebrew and Judaics for over 15 years.

Joan currently lives in Oregon with her best friend, who also happens to be her husband.

The above offering was originally published at: https://jewniquelymyself.com/2021/12/06/on-one-foot-december-2021/. Please be sure to follow Joan for more lovely posts.

Many of you’ve been following the ongoing story of Claire and her desire to have her daughters back home. I believe she and her girls are going to have a most happy holiday season.

Here’s Claire with all the joyous news.

They Are Home
By Claire Plaisted

Home at Last!

Our beautiful daughters are back home! They arrived on the 3rd of November and ended up in quarantine in Christchurch, midway down the south Island (East Coast) which is about ten hours from where we’re living at present. The next thing was how to get them home? Fly again (not cheap, though probably more efficient) or have a mini holiday, explore Christchurch (the girls have never been there before this) and then board the Coastal Train to Picton, the ferry to Wellington and a Train back to Palmerston North. I started to book things and as per usual, nothing goes to plan.

The story starts when I decide to go to Picton to visit a good friend and go house hunting. Yes, we’ve decided to move to the South Island, probably next year. The house we’re in at present isn’t big enough for all of us, especially since I need an office and craft room (for my new business). The house I wanted to look at was no longer available, so with many thanks to Jamie, I went looking further afield and found another in Woodburne close to Blenheim. We didn’t get this one either. Stepping back, I ended up having a mini makeover (bought some clothes too) and some photos by Jamie. She’s great. Such a wonderful lady and sure knows how to make a woman look and feel good about themselves.

A panoramic photo of clear blue sky over rolling hills, a wide patch of green grass, and a sparkling body of water. A long dock reaches out into the middle of the water, where several boats are scattered. The left side of the photo is bordered by the thick trunk of a palm tree and another, more distant tree is near the photo’s right edge. A red car is parked near the farthest tree.

Picton is as beautiful as ever. Below is a photo of Waikawa Bay, about five minutes down the road from my friend’s house. Yes, we went for a paddle. It rained for the next few days.

Below is another photo from Picton Harbour at Sunset when the ferry was coming in. Gorgeous.

A large white boat floats in calm water which reflects the gray morning sky. The silhouettes of pointed hills fill the background.

Another photo from Raranga Beach, which is out towards Blenheim. It was gorgeous, though not advisable to walk over the pebble beach in bare feet.

A beach with dark sand and numerous large pebbles, scattered along the tide line. In the background, a few trees are growing up from rocky gray cliffs. In the foreground, several rows of waves wash gently ashore.

On the Friday before travelling down to Christchurch, I attended a ‘Wine o’clock’ neighbour evening. It was lovely to meet others and have a chat. I was late to bed that particular night. On Sunday Jamie and I left for Christchurch at five o’clock in the morning. My daughters were being released from quarantine earlier than we’d all expected. We finally picked them up just down from the hotel they were staying in, packed up the car, and drove on to Top 10 Holiday Park. A nice place, though it seemed we were put on the second floor. I’d thought the place was all single story. Oops, I will remember to ask next time. Taking all the luggage up two flights of steps was a mission and a half.

Jamie decided to drive back to Picton. I’m sure she was exhausted by the time she got home. I worried about all the travelling she’d be doing over the following few days.

Back to the girls and what to do for the rest of Sunday and the next few days I’d booked for us to show the girls around Christchurch, not that I knew it overly well. Lucky me, I had a few friends who lived in the area.

Mandy is a beautiful lady I’ve known since my children were little. We met in Rotorua, and our children went to school together for a while. It was Mandy who put me on the right track for my depression, something which I’ll always be grateful for. I’m not sure what would’ve happened if Mandy hadn’t noticed the mess I’d got myself into. It was also Mandy who sort of told me about the terror attack in 2019, though she didn’t know it at the time of the text. I was in the UK and turned the TV news on. My world was turned upside down in an instant. I am sure many never thought this would happen in New Zealand… well not twice and not for affecting so many people and taking so many lives. It is horrendous and I have no idea how some countries live with this kind of thing.

Oops… slid away again. Anyway. We caught up with Mandy, her eldest daughter, and granddaughter on Monday. We bussed into the city, having no idea where the main station was. The tickets were costly and there were no return tickets. They apparently had a transfer to another bus if used within two hours… sigh. Not good enough! This is a total negative for Christchurch bus service.

Mandy collected us from Cathedral Square. Picture of the girls below, with the broken cathedral behind them. I’ve no idea what the sculpture is called. It looks like an ice cream cone with fancy lattice work.

Two women standing in a square on a sunny day. The woman on the left is wearing a pink shirt, a black sweater, and jeans. The woman on the right is wearing a black t-shirt with “if my mouth doesn’t say it, my face will” written on the front in white letters. Both women sport sunglasses and smiles. Behind them is a blue and silver sculpture in the shape of an inverted cone. The cone is more solid closer to the ground, but the metal separates into geometric shapes which resemble leaves as it moves upwards.

We went to Christchurch Museum. It was brilliant. So much to see and do. I just wish there were a few more sitting areas because my back is giving me grief right now. The one part I really loved was the Street showing old shops and what they sold. It reminded me of the Cobbles Streets in the York Museum in England. Memories are what we make them and seeing the early years of Christchurch was a wonderful lesson in history. We also went to the children’s area to sit and chat while Mandy’s granddaughter crawled around, having cuddles, standing and sitting. Such an adorable child. Moving on to the museum café, we had morning tea. Ice chocolate is a favourite of mine right now along with cheese scones. Delicious. Next we went to the Riverside Market, which is mainly food shops. It is lovely, though I got sore again, and I’d forgotten my walking stick by leaving it in Mandy’s car. The girls wandered around while we waited for Mandy and family to arrive. By the time they did, we’d ordered lunch, so I could sit down and Mandy gave me my walking stick. I hate not being able to walk far without it. Chatting for a while in the sun was lovely. Mandy and family went home, and we went to sit by the river for a while before returning to the bus station for another expensive ride home… ouch.

We had fish and chips for dinner, the first for the girls since their return to New Zealand. It was nice to see home cut chips (fries) for a change. That evening I went to book our train ride back to Picton only to find it fully booked… weeks ahead. Now we were stuck. It was OMG time. How would we get home? I looked at flights and cringed, especially since there would be extra baggage. I managed to contact my husband, and he was off work too so he could spend time with our girls. I asked him to find out if it was cheaper for him to drive and pick us up. It probably cost heaps more in the end. All this sorted, and we had another day out to Northland Mall to shop and meet another friend for lunch. We all had an amazing chat with Paula, such a fun lady to be around. It was at this stage we wondered if we should seriously start looking for a house in Christchurch instead of Blenheim. Then you remember the earthquakes and the terror attack that happened and wonder if you’re brave enough. Yeah, I know the whole of New Zealand is on several fault lines and we rock a lot… but seriously? Then I remember we used to live in Rotorua, which is situated inside an old volcano caldera. LOL. Where we are at present is on a main fault line. Therefore, do what you want and live where you’re going to be happy. South Island it is.

On Wednesday, we stayed at the holiday park to relax. We’d spoken to my husband a few times, finding out how the cats were getting along. Hissy, at times, chasing each other. Bonnie chased Nero so far that she got lost for a few hours, though found her way back… thank goodness. By the time we got home, they were a bit more friendly and putting up with each other. Though from his expression, he’s asking why we’ve got another cat in his house… LOL.

Two cats resting on gray throw rugs. The cat on the right is mostly white with patches of gray and brown striped pattern, and a gray striped tail. The cat on the right is looking off to the side with grayish eyes, seemingly annoyed. The cat on the left is a brown tabby with greenish eyes. This cat is staring directly at the camera with its tongue slightly visible.

Wednesday is also the day my husband started to make his way down through New Zealand, across on the ferry. Though the trip down for him was good, with the ferry and a few sleeps along the way so that he didn’t crash. We were worried at times due to lack of messages to work out where he was. We found him in reception at the holiday camp at 8 am. We took him to our lodge room, calling the girls who hurried down for cuddles and hugs… tears and all. The below photo is a few minutes after.

A man being hugged by two women. The man has gray hair and a gray beard. He’s wearing a gray and brown shirt and holding a paper mask. The woman on the left has pinkish hair and square glasses. She’s wearing a blue plaid shirt and a headband with black cat ears attached. The woman on the right has brown hair and square glasses. She’s wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and a headband with white rounded ears attached.

My husband hadn’t seen the girls in three years. Our son is yet to catch up with them. I hadn’t seen them for two years and about eight months.

We packed up the car my husband had rented and set out for breakfast at Northland Mall, breakfast was yummy, sorry no photos. Back in the car park we looked at booking the ferry. This is where stress, anxiety, and pure frustration comes in. Palmerston North Hertz… I doubt we will ever hire from them again, they made a solvable issue harder, demanding more money because we couldn’t get a spot for it on the ferry. You’d think in these COVID times, the ferry wouldn’t be fully booked. Sadly, it was, though there was a good reason. Interislander had two ferries down. We were travelling with Blue Bridge and booked as foot passengers. The issue was still the car… and how to get back to Palmerston North. God, what a bloody mess. We ended up driving to Picton with a few stops, showing the girls the changes since the double earthquake in Kaikoura and the gorgeous ocean.

Finally arriving in Picton, I went to ask about getting our car on the ferry. The lady at the desk was amazing… No can do. Why was she amazing? She put us on standby and worked with us, her boss, and a few other customers and they managed to get three more cars on the ferry, including ours. I’ve never prayed so hard for such a length of time in ages. Fingers crossed, touched wood (my walking stick). Even now I sometimes wonder how this lady did her job so professionally and with such good humour. I need to send her some flowers. We also had dinner in Picton, a lovely wood-fire pizza. We caught up with Jamie (I’d left something at her house) and I can’t wait to get back south again in the New Year. House hunting will begin.

The photos below show the beginning of our ferry crossing showing Oxford Bear with a milk chocolate drink sitting on the windowsill with a view of Picton Harbour through a dirty ferry window on a cloudy day.

A brown fuzzy teddy bear sitting on a windowsill. A shoreline is visible out the window, and the body of water is scattered with boats. In front of the bear is a purple sports drink in a plastic bottle.

The ferry ride was good. The thing about Blue Bridge Ferries is they have stabilizers and if you don’t know, The Cook Straits are (can be) one of the roughest to cross in the world. We had a good sailing. It was Isabelle’s first time on a ferry and she coped really well. My hubby slept some, the girls went exploring, and I stayed. We sailed rather late and didn’t get into Wellington until twenty-three hundred hours (11pm). Getting off takes about forty-five minutes at most and then it was set off home to Palmerston North. Another two hours or more. I think we got home at two-fifteen in the morning. Dumped the suitcases in the house, checked the cats and we all went to bed exhausted. Hubby had to take the car back by nine in the morning and sort out the mess they’d made of our car rental.

We’ve been home for just over a week now. Luckily, my husband was on holiday and has spent some time with the girls each day. It’s so good to have them home and things are settling, including the cats. We are still going to be moving South… Another Story.

*Reader’s Note*

This piece was written a couple of weeks ago after the return of our daughters from the UK in time for our first family Christmas since 2017. I hope you enjoyed the read.

https://claireplaisted.com/2021/11/27/theyre-home/

Claire Plaisted lives in New Zealand with her husband and three children. She is an Indie Author with over thirty books published. Claire runs a company ‘Plaisted Publishing House Ltd,’ as an Author Consultant, helping Indie Authors get their books online and looking professional.

www.claireplaisted.com

plaistedpublishinghouse@gmail.com

Next up author Abbie Johnson Taylor shares a bit of news from her corner of the world.

NEWS FROM MY CORNER December 2021
By Abbie Johnson Taylor

The past few years, I’ve asked my virtual assistants to write my holiday letters for me. But I’ve discovered they can be a bit biased. Last year, when all three of them: Siri, Google, and Alexa, chimed in, it almost got deadly. So, from now on, I’m taking my brother’s sage advice. If you want something done right, do it yourself.

That having been said, I’m trying something new. Fellow author and blogger Lynda Lambert composes a newsletter that she sends and posts on her blog twice a year. So, I’m going to see if this will work for me. It may not, but I always say you never know until you try.

As I’m writing this on the day after Thanksgiving, there’s no snow on the ground, only leaves. Although it’s cloudy and cold, there’s nothing to indicate that winter and Christmas are on the way.

Although I’m glad not to have to deal with winter weather, it would be nice to have a little snow tonight for Sheridan’s annual Christmas stroll, where my singing group, Just Harmony, will perform. We’ll be singing indoors at a local thrift store, and a little of the white stuff on the ground would surely put people in a holiday shopping mood. Meanwhile, I’ve asked Alexa to play the holiday standards station from Tune-In Radio, and that seems to be putting me in the holiday letter-writing mood.

Thanks to COVID, I haven’t done much traveling this past year. I’d love to fly to Florida and spend Christmas with my brother and his family, but although I’m fully vaccinated, I’m concerned about picking up the virus in an airport or on a plane and passing it on to someone more vulnerable. Now that another variant of the virus has been reported in South Africa and other locations, I know I made the right decision to stay home.

Although I miss my family and love being with them, it’s not worth it if I’m risking making someone sick. I’ll probably eat Christmas dinner at the senior center. I had a nice Thanksgiving meal there yesterday.

Last April, I attended the WyoPoets annual workshop in Gillette, about a hundred miles south and east of Sheridan. I had submitted a poem for critique, and to my surprise and delight, the presenter read my poem during the workshop and offered her comments. Sadly, most of the day was spent reading and discussing other poems, including mine. I would have liked to have done more writing during the workshop. But it was still fun reconnecting with other poets I hadn’t seen in over a year.

In June, I attended the National Federation of State Poetry Societies virtual conference, which featured workshops, open mic readings, and other activities. I wrote a couple more poems as a result of those workshops.

In July, my brother and his wife came and stayed for a few days. They’d been traveling across the country, visiting friends and relatives, and Sheridan was their last stop before they headed home to Florida. While they were here, we attended the rodeo parade and my class reunion and gathered with other family members for a celebration of life for an uncle who had passed away the previous winter. We had a wonderful time, and I’m hoping to get down to Florida to see them sometime next year.

All throughout the spring and summer, I was working on my new novel, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me. It was finally released the first week in October. Unfortunately, not realizing how soon it would be published, I signed up for a virtual memoir writing class that started at the end of September and ran until the first of November. So, between that and my blog and other obligations, I had little time to promote the book until this month. As for the memoir writing class, I now have a few more creative nonfiction pieces I can submit for publication later.

Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me is a novel about a grandmother with dementia who lives in a nursing home and tells her teenage granddaughter a secret. The girl, not knowing what else to do, tells her parents she knows this secret. In the course of the book, which starts Halloween and ends at Christmas, the family is dealing with the situation. You can read a synopsis, reviews, and find ordering links on my website at: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com. I’ll be signing copies of the book at Sheridan Stationery Books and Gifts on September 4th from one to three p.m. and have scheduled a radio interview on station KROE AM on December 20th at 9:10 a.m.

Last year, senior facilities where I’d been entertaining, that had been on lock-down due to the coronavirus pandemic, started opening up. I now do two gigs a month, one at a nursing home and the other at an assisted living facility. Our local senior center does lunchtime livestreams now in their dining room. I’ll be performing for one of those on December 23rd and the event will be broadcast live on Facebook. I recently started participating in karaoke online through Zoom and in person at a local bar and grill.

Just Harmony has also started performing again. In September, we sang for a state Red Hats convention. Besides our performance during tonight’s Christmas stroll, we’ll be singing at a Mormon church service, an assisted living facility, a historical museum’s holiday open house, and for a local women’s club’s Christmas party.

I leave you now with a poem I wrote several years ago and revised recently for one of my writers’ critique groups.

MOTHER’S COOKING

I loved Mother’s meatloaf, steak San Marco, calico beans.

During meals, she often said,

“It’s too dry, too salty,

needs more pepper, should have been cooked longer.”

When I was an adult, she mashed potatoes for the first time:

boiled, peeled, sliced them,

added milk and butter, then attacked them with an electric mixer.

They turned out chunky but still tasted good.

On Christmas Day, with family and friends gathered at the table,

she berated herself for allowing

bits of potato to evade the whirring beaters.

I said I liked the potatoes, asked for a second helping.

As she scooped another delicious mound on my plate, she said,

“Well, you’re used to college cafeteria food.”

***

I hope your holiday season is as memorable as the year my mother made mashed potatoes for the first time, and I wish you all the best in the coming year.

***

P.S. As I’m revising this on December 7th, 2021, winter has finally set in here in Sheridan, Wyoming. We got a couple of inches of snow over the weekend and a little more last night. It’s cold and cloudy with the temperature in the 30s. This is just what I need to put me in the mood to wish you all a joyous holiday season and a prosperous new year. Please feel free to email me at: abbietaylor945@gmail.com

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of three novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in Magnets and Ladders, The Avocet, and other publications. You can visit her website at: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Well, Abbie and Joan have certainly been busy.

Abbie, I don’t know anyone who makes homemade mashed potatoes that does it without lumps of potatoes unless, that is, they use a blender. I love them with the lumps. LOL.

Now, we’ve author Anthony Candela (Tony) sharing his holiday shopping conundrums with us.

Wintertime
By Tony Candela

It’s the holiday season and the livin’ ain’t always easy. I speak specifically of Christmas shopping. My family is probably no harder to shop for than most, but it sure seems like it is. Thankfully, my middle brother has historically been good enough to create an Amazon wish-list. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best invention since sliced bread. Quite often, I have simply bought everything on his list and divided the cost with my youngest brother. This year, I took the two more expensive items and left him with the other two.

Last year, the first Christmas engulfed in the COVID-19 pandemic, our family adopted the approach of limiting ourselves to three or four gifts each with all gifts being from “all of us.” This worked well, even though because of the pandemic, it ended up being the only Christmas in my 67 years for which I didn’t make it home. This year, after two calendar years of not being there and with some trepidation about Coronavirus variants, I’ll go home to see my mother and brothers in person.

My youngest brother is more reticent. He sent me an idea and then seemed to equivocate. “Well, maybe I’ll get a new iPhone.” That eliminated the iPhone case I almost bought him. In the past, I have resorted to the Yankees Store. Last year I bought him an Aaron Judge bobblehead doll; this year I thought about getting him a Derek Jeter bobblehead, but the affordable replicas won’t be delivered until next February. Back at the drawing board, I ended up buying him Amazon gift cards. I had to resort to calling Amazon’s disability customer service department as I couldn’t even get the Amazon Accessible web site to work for me. It turns out this was the day Amazon suffered a partial website shutdown.

Then there is the most difficult of all – the mother who doesn’t “need anything.” She is a cancer survivor in her late 80s and even more content than ever just to be alive and among her children, dad having passed away a dozen years ago. Consequently, our observational skills and creativity have been critical to our finding gift ideas for her. Over the past few years, I’ve resorted to getting her novelty gifts. In the past, the ‘Personal Creations’ website yielded an electric candle, a terrarium, and a nice candy-filled ‘Mother’ mug. This year, at my middle brother’s suggestion, I ordered a Christmas bouquet containing candy. She will love the former and curse the latter!

Of course, I am the easiest. I always want or need a little something. I gave my family a few gift ideas as far back as September. I need a new leisure belt; my old one has gotten worn out while two dress belts have hung unused for a year and a half. While my proactivity sounds laudable, it also had the effect of kicking my brothers into shopping-tyranny mode much too early for their taste. I too have failed a bit, having only recently given my girlfriend a good, yet not too expensive, gift idea.

Finally, there is the workplace. The pandemic has kept many of us home and away from the office, so traditional ways of celebrating the holidays have been put aside. This may be a blessing in disguise. A recent news item reported that a majority of people surveyed hate the ‘secret Santa’ tradition. Much regifting is reported, including foodstuffs. This is not a good idea. It is also unnecessary as there are a plethora of less stressful holiday office games to play. Keeping our duty to diversity in mind, a few ideas include: “Holiday Bingo,” “Tree-decorating Competition,” “Gingerbread House Build-off,” and (my favorite, at least theoretically) “Christmas Cocktail Mixology.”

Still, the holidays can be wonderful – once you’ve gotten to the unwrapping phase! Then the feeling of warmth flows in, the smell of holiday dinner wafts your way, and the big exhalation ensues!

Tony Candela has worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor, supervisor, manager consultant and administrator for more than 40 years in the field of blindness and visual impairment. His work has included promoting literacy and employment of blind persons and a special interest in enhancing the career preparation of blind persons who wish to work in the computer science field. He is a “retired” athlete, loves movies, sports, reading, writing, and music, including dabbling in guitar. He has published two books, a memoir (Stand Up Or Sit Out…) and a sci-fi novella (Vision Dreams: A Parable), both available at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Anthony+Candela&i=stripbooks

WOW! I’m so glad to hear from Tony. It sure sounds like he’s done well with his shopping this year.

By the way Tony, if I send you my Amazon wishlist, would you treat me like your brother?

*Smile*

Before we get to all the other great stuff everyone has to share, I’d like to take a moment to update you on what’s up in my neck of the woods.

Aorta, Abdomen, Ultrasound, and Lots More
By Patty L. Fletcher
December 16, 2021
Moon Phase Waxing Gibbous

Calamity, Chaos and Confusion rule! Yet still Chief Blue Seeing Eye® Dog, Prince Edward A.K.A. Sweet Eddy and I continue.

As many of you know, I’ve been dealing with some serious health issues including abdominal pain, nausea and fatigue. On December 13th, I went for what was supposed to have been an ultrasound on my abdomen. I knew when they did the test it was incorrect because of the area the tech was imaging. When I asked, she told me the order was for an ultrasound to check for an aortic aneurysm. I made her check the record of the order to be sure and she said, “the order from the office matches what’s on my screen.”

I allowed the test to be done because my father has one and those are hereditary. But I fear someone didn’t get a test they needed. I also asked if she could have someone call over to the office to see if they could go ahead and check my abdomen while I was there. Needless to say, it didn’t get done and I went home knowing the whole thing had most likely been for naught.

The next day, even before I’d had anything to eat, I suddenly became ill again, at which point I left the reservation. I called my health case manager, as well as my doctor’s office and to be blunt, I raised holy hell. I explained they’d done the incorrect test; told them I was in serious pain and dealing with nausea and fatigue and I wanted something done right now!

The next morning, my Health Case Manager called and after she looked at my records, she saw they’d done the wrong test and well, she too left the reservation and joined me in raising holy hell. As a result, a lot of things happened quickly. More tests were scheduled and by the time you’ve read this they’ll have been done and hopefully we’ll have results.

The good news is they don’t think I have any trouble with aneurysms, but we still have no idea what is wrong with my stupid stomach.

This is extremely hard to deal with because I have a brand-new guide, but it looks like Blue is getting ready to get a lot of work going into large medical facilities.

Let this be a lesson. Be careful what you manifest. I’ve been wanting to find ways to get more work for Blue, but I didn’t intend this.

In the meantime, I’m readying Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing (Author, Blogger, Business Assist) and its clients for 2022.

One major change will be The Writer’s Grapevine Magazine. When I first began, The Writer’s Grapevine was barely big enough to be called a magazine. However, it has grown and though it is truly a labor of love due to other commitments which have come to be important in my life I can no longer put it out as a monthly online magazine.

Never fear. It’s not going to disappear. From now and going forward, The Writer’s Grapevine Magazine will be released with the changing of the seasons. Our new release schedule will be as follows.

The first Writer’s Grapevine in 2022 will be released during the Vernal Equinox on March 20. The next will arrive for your reading pleasure as we celebrate the Summer Solstice on June 21. Then, as we come from the heat of summer into the crisp days of fall, we’ll enjoy the September/October edition during Samhain the week of October 31. We’ll end the year for The Writer’s Grapevine Magazine with a festive Holiday Extravaganza which will be released during the Winter Solstice December 21, 2022.

During the months we have no magazine I’ll be on the lookout for spectacular offerings as well as event announcements for the Sips of Wine from the Grapevine column found on my blog. So, get those creative juices flowing, feed your muses or whatever you do to get yourselves motivated, and get creative. Who knows? You might just find yourselves there.

Another exciting project taking place will be the TTW Book Swap. I’ll be giving out free book coupon codes for my books in exchange for a review.

I’ll also be offering clients the chance to have me, and others, review their books by doing the same.

If you’re interested in participating in such an endeavor, get in touch.

Speaking of books, I’ll be releasing Pathway to Freedom Broken and Healed: Book Two the Raw Truth. I don’t have an actual release date but for all you readers clamoring for more, I promise you’ll have it soon.

There are also some other writing and marketing projects afoot so standby for news.

For now, that’s all I’ve to report. Chief Blue Seeing Eye® Dog, Prince Edward A.K.A. Sweet Eddy and I wish you the happiest of holiday seasons.

May Harmony find You and Blessid may You Be.

About Patty L. Fletcher

Patty L. Fletcher lives in Kingsport Tennessee where she works full time as a Writer with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disAbled from the non-disAbled. She is also a Social Media Marketing Assistant.

To learn more visit: https://pattysworlds.com/

ADVERTS AND NEWS NUGGETS…

AD: Wild with Life A Collection of Mother Earth Poetry
A lush green forest of bamboo trees features a clear pathway that veers off further into the forest. On the path is a man wearing a loose shirt and a hat, walking away into the trees. He is weary but goes on. The title of the book is in red italicized text at the top of this picture. The text at the bottom of the image reads "Poetry by Charles Portolano" in orange letters.

Wild with Life
A collection of Mother Earth poetry

By Charles Portolano
Editor of The Avocet, a Journal of Nature Poetry

Knowing I am wild with life
but once
on this gift we have been given,
this precious gift that we have
been given guardianship of…

“These poems are written by a seasoned poet who has reached the pinnacle of his art with a recognizable and moving voice. The sections of the book invited me instantly in to share their secrets: WHERE TREES RUN WILD, WILD WAYS OF WATER. THE WILD AMONG US, OUR WILDEST TERRAINS, LOVING THE WILD, and SAVING WHAT’S WILD. The underlying driving force is of course the notion of wildness and all that we have lost by destroying it.

Charles edits the highly-successful nature journal, THE AVOCET, a must for nature loving poets and writers.”- Christine Swanberg, Poet Laureate of Rockford, Il.

“In Wild with Life, Charles Portolano has deepened his engagement with the natural world he began so movingly in his earlier works. It is a noble, ambitious, and moving work.”- Joel Savishinsky – Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus in the Social Sciences, Ithaca College

Just $15.00, which includes postage, for 90 pages of pure love for our Mother Earth.

Please make out your check to The Avocet and send to:

The Avocet
P. O. Box 19186
Fountain Hills, AZ 85269

To contact us: cportolano@hotmail.com

 

AD: Songs for the Pilgrimage

The front cover of this book features a gorgeous photo of Venice, Italy, taken at sunset. Six blue and black gondolas are at rest on the water in the foreground, and a blue and white cathedral and several additional buildings are in the background, on the far shore. The top and bottom cover bands are a deep reddish brown, echoing the color of the buildings to the right of the cathedral. The lettering for the title and the author’s name is very pale gray, almost white. On the back cover are the synopsis, a short poem, and a photo of the author. A larger version of that same photo is in the book.

By Lynda McKinney Lambert
https://www.lyndalambert.com/books/

NEW!

I am proud to share my newest book publication!

From the Prologue and Epilogue of Songs for the Pilgrimage:

The word pilgrimage refers to a religious journey. Individuals commit to traveling to reach a predetermined destination, such as a shrine or holy place. The excursion is a trek from one location to another. Pilgrimage has been an abiding theme in my writing for several decades.

My first book, Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage (Kota Press, 2002, now out of print), was inspired by my annual journeys to Salzburg, Austria, where I taught a month-long drawing and writing course. I worked during 2020 and 2021 to revise and expand that previous collection of stories, poems, historical notes, and journal entries for this new book. Songs for the Pilgrimage features writings, drawings, and photographs I created over four decades.

I conclude with an artist’s prayer:

My studio is yours, Lord. Be my welcome guest today. Your goodness and unfailing kindness have been with me all my life. I have tried to make your glory visible in the works of art I have created. Someday I will close the door of my studio for the final time, but I will not be alone. Together, we will go to your home, where we will continue to collaborate on glorious projects throughout eternity. Amen.

May I Serve You?
Here are the stacks of paintings
for you to look at tonight.
I carefully brought them out
of storage closets
arranged them here
in the kitchen—
where my children used to play
games around a square oak table.
Once, food to nourish the body
was prepared here, by my hands.
Tonight, there is an
abundance of food
for your soul.
Come into my kitchen and
taste the world,
prepared by my hands.

© 1997 © 2021 by Lynda McKinney Lambert

http://www.dldbooks.com/lyndalambert

AD: NEW RELEASE: Apples of Gold Timely Advice When the World Doesn’t Seem Lovely
BY JO ELIZABETH PINTO
Author Website: https://www.brightsideauthor.com

“Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.” (Proverbs 25:11, NLT)

The cover of "Apples of Gold", showing an illustrated image of golden apples piled high in an ornate silver bowl on a pedestal. The apples are illuminated from above by a silvery white light, casting the cavernous room beyond into shadow. Framed wall-hangings and statues are visible in the space behind the pedestal.

The turbulent times we live in require us to look at our changing world in new ways if we hope to find the blessings that will sustain us. The short, easy-to-read vignettes in this book focus on sifting the true and positive out of the grit and grime of daily life.

Like the abundance of apples, we can choose from to satisfy our varying tastes, there are different kinds of stories in this book. A few are specifically about the Coronavirus; most are not. Some mention God: most are as practical as they are spiritual. There are even some poems sprinkled in for good measure. All of the pieces are intended to help readers seek strength and joy in the challenging days that have come upon us.

Delve into the silver basket and find the golden apples that await you.

Jo Elizabeth Pinto was among the first blind students to integrate the public schools in the 1970s. In 1992, she received a degree in Human Services from the University of Northern Colorado. While teaching students how to use adaptive technology, she earned a second degree in 2004 from Denver’s Metropolitan State College in Nonprofit Management. These days, she freelances as an editor and a braille proofreader.

As an author, Pinto entertains her readers while giving them food for thought. In her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, she draws on personal experience to illustrate that hope is always an action away.

Pinto lives in Colorado with her husband, her preteen daughter, and their pets.

AD: New Release: The Chocolate Dog
By Meredith Leigh Burton
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GC3HNYB/

The front cover of "The Chocolate Dog" depicts swirled watercolor painting of blues and purples. The silhouette of a girl and a dog wearing a working harness and handle is on the right side. The girl is wearing a skirt with a jagged, asymmetrical hemline, and has curly hair. She looks down at the dog with a hand raised to pet his face, which is looking up at her. 
The title is in playful black text above the author's name.

Patricia loves going to the ice cream shop with her mother. Every Saturday, a chocolate dog is waiting at the shop, and Patricia wants to pet him. However, she is afraid. What if the owner does not like her? Why is a dog allowed inside an ice cream shop, anyway.

When Patricia’s mother is in the hospital, Patricia worries that she will not be able to go for ice cream. Aunt Agatha, though, might have a plan to solve everything.

The Chocolate Dog is a book about unexpected surprises and the meaning of friendship. Those who enjoy stories of family love and new friends will find something to cheer about in this fun picture book from author Meredith Leigh Burton.

Meredith Leigh Burton is a teacher, motivational speaker and author. Some of her titles include Blind Beauty and Other Tales of Redemption and Rebekah’s Refuge. She loves writing stories about brave heroines who go on dangerous journeys. The Chocolate Dog is her first picture book for children. Meredith lives in Lynchburg, Tennessee with her family and a menagerie of cats.

AD: Outside the Circle: A Collection of Songs and Poems
By Kevin Hubschman

The front cover of "Outside the Circle: A collection of songs and poems". The title text is centered at the top of the image in large, red letters. Below, a red, stenciled drawing of a snake forms a circle around the subtitle, its pointed tail disappearing into it's open, fanged mouth. In the bottom left corner sits the silhouetted figure of a rodent, with the author's name in the opposite corner.

C 2021 / 107 pages in print.

In e-book and print from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers.

For cover image, free text sample, direct buying links, and author contact information, please visit the author’s website: https://www.dldbooks.com/kevinhubschman/

About the Book

Outside the Circle is a collection of songs and poems I’ve written and composed through the decades. It’s mostly dark, but for those willing to look beyond my personal demons, there can hopefully be found both flashes of resilience and rays of hope.

The book is dedicated first and foremost to my wife, Trish, who is a fantastic author in her own “write.” Secondly, it is dedicated to everyone who feels bullied, feels different, feels alone, feels friendless, feels hopeless, and feels “outside the circle.” The words “don’t judge a book by its cover” spring to mind as apropos.

“Outside the Circle”

Outside the circle I can’t see the sun

Outside the circle I don’t know anyone

Outside the circle time is on the run

Outside the circle is not much fun

Inside the circle is a white–noise crowd

Inside the circle is fashionably loud

Inside the circle there are people with guns

Inside the circle is a lot of fun

About the Author

Kevin Hubschman lives in Eastern Pennsylvania with his wife, Trish, and their dog, Henry.

He is retired and currently working on a novel loosely based on his life. He would love to connect with people who could help transform some of the pieces found in this publication into polished songs.

 

Website and contact information:

https://www.dldbooks.com/kevinhubschman/

AD: In My Feelings: A Book of Poetry
By Butterfly Thomas

The cover of "In My Feelings: A book of poetry" pictures a photo of a solitary tree. The tree is surrounded entirely by water and is reflected in the rippled surface. In the distance is a low, sloping line of blue hills. The sky is a pinkish amber near the horizon, fading to a navy blue, and is reflected in the water. The title is written in white text at the top of the image, while the author's name is in white text near the bottom.

C 2020 / 117 pages in print.

In e-book and print from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers.

Visit the author’s website for full details (cover, buying links, author bio, and more):

https://www.dldbooks.com/bthomas/

About the book:

Love and passion. Conflict and regret. Pride and defiance. Rage at equality denied. Deep compassion for friends and boundless love for one’s children. These are just a few of the subjects touched upon by these 49 brief, powerful poems.

Some will fill you with shared sorrow. Many of them express anger at racial injustice and the exploitation of the disabled. Still others delight the reader with their images of strength and beauty or their clever arrangement of words.

Never pretentious or deliberately opaque, all of them are sure to make you think.

About the author:

Butterfly Thomas was born in Germany but was raised in Virginia, where she still lives.

She is the author of the novel Head Held High (2018), an urban thriller.

AD: Uneasy Tides
By Trish Hubschman

The photo shows a foreboding seascape, with a cloudy sky, rocky beach, and rushing tide. The colors are gray, blue-gray, black, white, and dark brown. The title letters, at the top, are in red. Below the main title, the subtitle letters are in white. The author’s name is at the bottom of the cover, also in white. To the lower left, superimposed on the seascape, is a red and black electric guitar. It symbolizes Danny Tide and his band, Tidalwave.

C 2021 / Number four in the Tracy Gayle mystery series

$3.99 in e-book / $8.50 in paperback / 149 pages in print

Cover image, synopsis, author bio, direct buying links, and information about Trish’s previous three books: https://www.dldbooks.com/hubschman/

Synopsis:

Blair wants Danny to get her an interview with his first wife’s present husband, Robert Taylor. He’s the CEO of a major computer software company. Danny reluctantly says he’ll see what he can do. He and Tracy go to the Taylor residence for a Christmas party. Danny hasn’t seen his first wife, Deb, in over 30 years. She sucks up to him.

At the party, Deb is drunk and disappears with her husband’s business partner. Her son from her second marriage, Darren, isn’t present. Her daughter Lily is flirting with a young man. Becca, Deb’s daughter with her third husband, a musician, is sincerely excited about Danny’s presence.

Danny and Tracy feel out of sorts and by midnight are ready to leave, but they have to find Deb to say good night. It’s then that mayhem breaks out. Becca summons them down to the pool area. Her mother is passed out on the cement, bruises on her face and arms. Two men are pulling Robert Taylor’s body out of the pool.

Deb is the most likely suspect, but she insists she didn’t do it. Danny’s older brother, Derek, a prominent attorney, takes her case. If Deb didn’t kill her husband, who did? There were so many possible suspects at the party.

Author bio:

Trish Hubschman lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Kevin, author of the poetry and song collection Outside the Circle, and their dog, Henry. She holds a B.A. degree in English with a writing emphasis. For a longer bio and details about her previous Tracy Gayle books, please visit the website linked to above.

AD: Finally, a Calendar You Can See!
The company founder, a thin man with white hair, is wearing a white collared shirt with grey pinstripes and is smiling. He is holding a large spiral-bound calendar. The dates on the calendar are printed with large, black, bold text.

The 2022 edition of EZ2See® Products’ large print, large space, high contrast weekly planner/calendar will be available starting in August 2021.

Since 2015, thousands of these revolutionary calendar/planners have been sold, directly or as gifts, to people experiencing:

  • Vision decline.
  • Memory loss.
  • Unsteady hands.
  • Cognitive impairment.
  • A need to manage schedules for children or parents, or
  • The need to record daily events.

Customers say everything’s included, because a legally blind senior created it—for himself and then others—and incorporated the following features, most of which can’t be found in any other product:

  • Printed on heavy weight 8.5” x 11″ paper.
  • Uses only high contrast, black ink.
  • Numbers and letters are more than ten times larger than newsprint.
  • Each uncluttered, daily cell is nearly the size of two, 3 x 5 cards.
  • Page edges have a thick black border to prevent “writing off the paper.
  • Spiral bound so it folds in half and lays flat.
  • Bold lined pages at the end for your own notes, and
  • It’s only as thick as a wooden pencil.

For complete information or to order, visit: EZ2SeeProducts.com or place phone orders at 800-234-8291.
Visit Edward on his Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/EZ2SeeProducts/

AD: Join Freedom to Be Me
A photo of Patty's left profile as she sits comfortably in a chair. She's illuminated by a lamp on the table beside her. Patty has dark hair and is wearing a white t-shirt.

Freedom to Be Me is a group where wonderfully happy and loving people talk about Books, Books, and More.

What’s the More?

  • All things books.
  • Blogs
  • Reviews
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Newsletters and Online Magazines
  • All things Tech
  • Spiritual (No preaching or pushing All Faiths Welcome)
  • And general BS.

In other words, if you keep it polite and decently clean, all are welcome. Freedom to Be Me Is a discussion group, and though it’s not terribly active, participation is wanted.

If you’d like to join us, you may Subscribe at: FreedomToBeMe+subscribe@groups.io

AD: Heidi Lambert McClure Sassafras Hill Studio
Oblong red and black earrings on a white lace tablecloth.

Are you looking for that special birthday or holiday gift? Need a specific kind of greeting card? Love the feel of homemade soap?

If you love handmade jewelry, candles, greeting cards, and more, this ad is for you.

Handmade jewelry by Heidi McClure Available for purchase on Etsy at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SassafrasHillStudio

AD: John Crawford School of Music
John Crawford , a dark-haired man in a navy blue collared shirt, sitting at a piano.

Offering private music instruction both in-person and via video chat. Video chat is through Facebook Messenger, FaceTime (Inside the United States), and Zoom worldwide.

I offer instruction in the guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, violin, viola, dulcimer, ukulele, banjo, drums, and piano. Due to COVID-19 concerns, voice instruction is not currently being offered.

Prices: $15/30 min.
$30/hour

Contact: please send all inquiries to Blindsensei@gmail.com
Website: https://johncrawfordschoolofmusic.wordpress.com/

AD: A Quest Called Motherhood – War Wounds and Diva Tantrums
By T C Creare
Illustrated by Mara Reitsma

A busy drawing with portions of the title appearing painted on a sign in front of a window, open on a computer screen, and propped up on a keyboard beside a cup of coffee.

“We all know that children can go from, Oh, that is so sweet, too, are you freaking kidding me? In five seconds flat…” I don’t know about you guys, but as a parent of three, there are moments that make me proud of the little army that I have created and others that make me want to pull out my hair, shaking my head as I try not to cry. Parenting is tough, and despite what some think, you can’t control everything. S#!? Happens, and chances are you’re not going to be prepared for it. Well, guess what? You’re NOT alone, and the stories inside will prove it. This book is for all those coffee-nuking, dinner-making, cupcake-baking, laundry-folding, yard-guarding, lunch-packing, fight-halting, show-finding, toy-fixing parents out there who really need a cape; and perhaps a glass of wine, or two!

BUY LINK: https://www.lulu.com/en/ca/shop/tc-creare-and-mara-reitsma/a-quest-called-motherhood-war-wounds-diva-tantrums/ebook/product-784z9k.html

AD: Books by Praanav R Lal
https://pranavwrites.com/

AUTHOR AND BLIND PHOTOGRAPHER PRANAV LAL (PRAANAV R. LAL)

NONFICTION (SELF-HELP)

Outsmart Blog Hijackers
Keep away those pesky hackers!

A person stands in the shadows, illuminated only by the faint glow of neon lights. "Outsmart Blog Hijackers" is written in glowing letters across a black background.

Dear author, blogger, and website owner, did you know that 4 out of 5 sites today are set up such that they are ripe for theft?

Think about it, your carefully crafted copy is replaced by ads selling everything from sunglasses to Viagra.

Your users could be infected by malware when they visit your site and your hard-earned trust dissolved within hours.

The Care and Feeding of Digital Certificates build customer trust before they reach your homepage.

How to build trust with your customer even before your homepage loads!
How do you ensure your customer stays on your website and not run screaming from the homepage?
How do you establish instant legitimacy?
What happens if you lose the trust of your buyers?

FICTION…

The Telekinesis Trilogy
Two street children with special powers find a home and solve crimes

Telekinesis – book 1
Can two street children work together and find a home while saving a village?

Led Weight – book 2
Bright toys with a dose of Led

The Cult – book 3
George and Jane go up against a cult

Bakasura an audio comic
Has the demon of legend, Bakasura come to life? George and Jane must find out and rescue the villagers from him.

In case of Emergency
A stranger in her apartment leads Preeti to love, though not with him

Julia
A robot of the future goes up against a common Indian soldier.

Venture Capital
A failed entrepreneur moves towards redemption

Scrambled Eggs
Ordinary Joe wins back his super cook wife by “trying once” and some fancy food presentation.

About the Author in his own words…

My name is Pranav Lal, better known in my writing world as Praanav R Lal

I write non-fiction and short stories which are hard to classify but tend towards fantasy and science fiction.
I do not give my characters any breathers and enjoy keeping the action sharp and continuous.
I use a visual prosthesis, thanks to which I am a photographer.
I enjoy technology, particularly cybersecurity which is what pays the bills.
I love interacting, so feel free to comment or say hello.

AD: NEW RELEASE
Etta’s Fishing Ground
By Eva Pasco
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09J8WMH9Q/

A beautiful young woman with long, curly, blonde hair rests her head on her hand. In and around her hair are leaves, twigs, and berries, making her seem wild. Above her head the text is in a burnt orange/red color that reads "Eva Pasco." Underneath that is "A Compelling Contemporary" typed in a pale yellow font. Underneath the woman's head the burnt orange/red text reads "Etta's Fishing Ground."

Just as a whirlwind courtship derailed Momma’s beat-poet dream of hightailing it to North Beach in the Fifties, a badass drifter veers Etta away from seeking haven in the artists’ hub of Greenwich Village during the Seventies.

Etta makes the best of circumstances staying put in the rural enclave of Foster, Rhode Island, sketching the likes of its historic landmarks and scenic overlooks on her fishing ground.

However, deviant twists of fate with deaths resulting, arise from wild speculations and unwarranted suspicions when things aren’t what they seem:

*Chance encounters predispose a besotted admirer to figure things all wrong.

*False impressions taunt Etta’s husband, Keith, with uncertainty until his dying day.

*Acting on a hunch, Etta’s best friend shows up at her door to peddle Keith’s infidelity, unbeknownst to either, in sync with his drowning while fishing.

 

Blaze a trail to the point of no return where love and friendship shift ground to withstand the vagaries of life.

Author Bio

Multi-award winning author, Eva Pasco, a lifelong native Rhode Islander, integrates local settings in her lit with grit. Weaving historic events, geographic landmarks, and regional culture into the fabric of her storytelling, she blurs the lines of demarcation between fact and fiction.

Tapping into significant issues impacting the lives of women, Eva’s novels emphasize character-driven plots propelled by flawed and feisty females over forty.

All of the author’s published works are available in eBook and paperback at Amazon.

 

AD: NEW RELEASE
One Goes to the Sea
By Joan Myles
jewniquelymyself.com

One Goes to the Sea's cover is textured charcoal-colored canvas. The title and author's name appear in golden yellow, lowercase letters.

What is it about poetry that so readily connects readers with their Spiritual selves? And is it possible to focus these expanded faculties of perception beyond the page—intentionally, inward?

One Goes to the Sea is a collection of the poet’s waking and sleeping flights of fancy, her dream journal sketched poetically and visually illustrated by her daughter.

You can order your copy on Amazon and Smashwords today!

About the Author

Joan Myles has always been a child of Wonder as well as a spiritual seeker. When she lost her sight at the age of 12, these qualities and writing poetry saved her from despair.

Joan earned a B.A. in Education, a Master’s in Jewish Studies. She married, raised four lively children, worked as a Rehabilitation Teacher, and taught Hebrew and Judaics for over 15 years.

Her first book of poetry, One With Willows, vividly expresses Joan’s child-like joy. She considers her poems to be a kind of footpath for readers, an opening into that place of delight, an invitation to awaken childlike wonder for themselves.

Joan’s words also reveal the invisible link between one human being and another, between humans and Nature, between the physical realm and the Spiritual. The idea of the Oneness of Creation flows through her work, the understanding of living in the world as a journey of discovery, of stepping into and between the various layers and levels of existence. Joan’s second collection, One Glittering Wing, represents this kind of journey, specifically through her year-long passage from the deep pain of her mother’s death toward reconciliation with Life.

Joan currently lives in Oregon with her best friend, who also happens to be her husband.

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Poems and Prayers
By Tasha Halpert
www.heartwingsandfriends.com

The Poems and Prayers book cover features a tree's branches, full of leaves. The entire cover is tinted green, including the shapes of the hills in the background. The title and author's name are in white, rounded text.

Poems and Prayers by Tasha Halpert is a poignant tribute to her late son Robin Greenough Lorenz and his brief, yet meaningful, life. Written over the years since his passing, the book is evocative of his spirit and of the love they shared. Readers may feel echoes of their own experiences with the loss of life of a loved one, and may feel comforted by the shared feelings. Tasha Halpert’s poetry has been published in The Unicorn and other publications.

Poems and Prayers is available to purchase on Amazon today!

About the Author

Practical mystic, poet and writer Tasha Halpert lives in a small central Massachusetts town where she writes a weekly column for the local newspaper and a weekly inspirational Internet column. She is staff poet and storyteller for “The Unicorn”. Mother, grandmother and great grandmother, she and her husband Stephen, a writer and collage artist do what they can to make the world a happier, healthier place.

 

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The Two Pentacles Publishing logo: two encircled five pointed stars side-by-side, with their top most points angled towards each other playfully; the stars sit above the words "two pentacles" in lowercase type. The logo is white with a dark purple background.

Two Pentacles Publishing Services

At Two Pentacles, our goal is to create an experience that promotes inclusivity and creativity at a competitive rate.

We work with clients at all levels of experience and ability.

We also specialize in adaptive communication, descriptive visual services, and flexible content sharing. We are happy to adjust to accommodate screen readers and large text requirements and are open to discussing Braille printing.

Contact us to let us know how we can best provide you with a customized experience!

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Visit www.twopentacles.com for more information!

Listen to our interview with Patty L. Fletcher of Talk to Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1285364/7363705

NEWS NUGGETS: Message Crafters a Division of ToastMasters International Now Seeking Members

Not long ago, due to my doing nothing more than liking, following, and sharing a page on Facebook, I was approached by Gina Lovick of the Message Crafters club. She invited me to a meeting, my curiosity was aroused, I attended and found a wonderful place to further my writing and speaking abilities.

Now, I’d like to pass on the good fortune to anyone who would but take a chance and join us for a meeting.

Here’s my friend and mentor Gina to tell you more.

Message Crafters is a niche Toastmasters club for individuals who want to engage in Storytelling Leadership.

Our Vision:

We believe big visions need big stories to match.
Storytelling is at the root of all transformation: personal, cultural, and corporate.
At a time when every facet of life has been redefined, as changemakers, we have the opportunity to define our future path.

Our Mission:

To help you build the future through the power of Storytelling!

Learn to communicate with flexibility, impact, and authenticity to connect with anyone. Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today. We will help you craft the stories you want to tell.

Message Crafters Offers:

Online Interactive Training: 11 self-paced programs, available when and where you are ready. Whether you’re starting a career, moving up or leading your family, church, or community, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Self-Paced Program: Develop your storytelling craft at your own pace. Interactive materials are available online 24/7. When you are ready you will present your learning projects at our meetings.

Mentoring Guidance: Each protégé is paired with a seasoned storyteller. Mentors provide guidance throughout the process and work with you to craft your stories.

Practice & Feedback: Practice delivering your stories in our upbeat, supportive format and receive feedback designed to help you perfect the presentation of your message.

What We Do:

We are Toastmasters and a communication specialists team devoted to training changemakers to develop & deliver compelling messages.

Why We Do It:

Message Crafters believes that igniting the joint power of marketers, communicators, fundraisers, journalists, and executives leads to great results and better prospects for the future.

How We Do It:

We pair you with one of our Award-Winning storyteller mentors to guide you while you participate in the Toastmasters’ education program. Training is self-paced. In addition to the core competencies of your chosen curriculum, you will select elective projects to align and expand your storytelling expertise.

Who We Help:

Our protégés are message crafters of all types, especially current and aspiring marketers, communicators, fundraisers, corporate presenters, and job seekers.

Problems We Help You Solve:

Through storytelling your audience’s reluctance to invest in your vision or strategy will melt away as they come to understand the story of who you are, what you do, where you are going and why it matters.

In the face of societal uncertainty, we help you inspire and motivate your audience to take action, sell the future, to demystify and humanize what are often complex, technical business solutions, and increase perceived value.

Our Results:

You will know how to create powerful stories that:

  • Inspire action
  • Spur donations
  • Mobilize supporters
  • Increase sales
  • Unify purpose among team members

You can weave your organization’s consumer-facing narrative which will:

  • Elicit strong emotions
  • Transform your brand’s image
  • Drive consumer action

You will have the opportunity to create a compelling portfolio that:

  • Develops emotional connections with your audiences
  • Creates support for your message and cause
  • Enables you to change the future

Message Crafters is currently offering assistance thanks to the generosity of some of their alumni.

Scholarship Information:

Each Enrollment Application is Submitted for Scholarship Consideration.

Some of our Alumni have decided to pay forward their Message Crafters experience and sponsor new Message Crafters by providing them with fully paid memberships in Message Crafters through September 2022.

Terms and conditions apply. *

*Terms and Conditions:

  1. Sponsorships are limited to fees assessed for membership by Toastmasters International.
  2. Qualifying applicants must meet and agree to the following provisions:
    1. Qualification for membership in Toastmasters International.
    2. Submit a completed application for membership in Message Crafters.
    3. Sponsored applicants are responsible for payment of any Message Crafters dues as recorded with Toastmasters International.
    4. Any Message Crafters dues must accompany the initial membership application and again be paid prior to subsequent sponsored Toastmasters International membership renewal payments made in September 2021 and March 2022.
    5. Failure to meet, agree and execute these terms and conditions by a scholarship recipient will immediately relieve the corresponding sponsoring alumni from their commitment of support.
  3. The decision to sponsor a new Message Crafters member is solely made by the sponsoring alumni.
  4. To protect the privacy and security of sponsors, Message Crafters has agreed to keep alumni identities confidential.

Message Crafters is the only Toastmasters club which meets twice a week. Members aren’t required to attend both meetings. This schedule is provided as a matter of convenience for our members. You can attend one or the other or both meetings in a week. Your choice, your convenience.

Our Tuesday meetings are only 1 hour long, as they are designed to fit within someone’s lunch hour. Our Friday meetings are a bit longer: an hour and 15 minutes, up to an hour and 30 minutes. Infrequently we run an hour and 30 minutes depending on how much club business we might have to attend to after the conclusion of all the speaking.

Overall, more people attend on Fridays, but some are over-achievers and attend twice a week.

Please feel free to attend as it best fits your lifestyle and commitments.

Guests are welcome. If you’d like to attend, please let me know.

There are different links for Tuesdays and Fridays:

Every Tuesday 12-1pm EST (UTC-4)
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/548613041?pwd=MHYzZTFjRy9GcSswV0NkQjFkM3JMZz09
Meeting ID: 548 613 041
Passcode: 976148

Every Friday 5:30-7pm EST (UTC-4)
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/270409149?pwd=d2xXbnBPRERYQW5nZVdLQUhHWmVjdz09
Meeting ID: 270 409 149
Passcode: 292848

https://www.messagecrafters.org

NEWS NUGGETS: A String of Stories from the Heart to the Future
By Ann Chiappetta

Hi Audible book subscribers and story lovers — Check out this new release, A String of Stories From the Heart to the Future © by Ann Chiappetta.
https://tinyurl.com/4ve8j4w5

The book cover features a 6-pointed buck in a field of weeds and grass. His ears are alert, as is his gaze. The sun is shining on the right side of his body. The title of the book is centered on the top and the author's name is centered on the bottom.

Also available In e-book and print (182 pages) from Amazon and other online sellers.

About A String of Stories

A demon deer and a ghost cat. Sibling rivalry and sexual awakening. Self-image and self-confidence. The chance for an off-worlder to breathe free at last on a new planet. Those are just some of the diverse themes of these notable stories. Once you step inside the author’s world, you cannot emerge unmoved.

NEWS NUGGETS: Author Marlene Mesot Announces New Book & More
By Marlene Mesot
http://www.marlsmenagerie.com

The book cover features a snowball rolling down a steep hill covered in snow. The sky is a bright blue with a few fluffy white clouds hovering above the horizon. There is a gold, glowing cross in the top righthand corner. The title of the book is slanted, following the path of the snowball.

The Snowball Effect, 4 Elements of Mystery Book 2, now available and soon to be released audiobook

This is also expertly performed by Timothy G. Little, but with an added bonus. The Prologue for Book 3 Whirlwind of Fear, which is the sneak peak bonus material included in both print and audio versions, will be performed by Deb Whitner appearing as Cassie.

The Purging Fire Audiobook

The Purging Fire, performed by Timothy G. Little is available in audio as well as print and eBook formats. Timothy expertly brings the story to life. He performed the character voices to perfection as voices are crucial to the story line. You can feel his caring in the narration. On a scale of one to five I give him 10 stars!

The Purging Fire Brief Summary:

College student Melissa Sanders, who has vision and hearing loss, seems to be unavoidably present wherever danger threatens. She knows Alex has some dark secret he just won’t share.

As romantic interest sparks, college fire marshal Alex Marcus feels compelled to protect Missy from harm, until a violent misunderstanding breaks their marital engagement. Only then it becomes clear that Melissa has been the arsonist’s target.

Book Jacket Review:

“Love, mystery, suspense and romance all contained in one book! The Purging Fire is a true delight for the undercover detective in all of us!Wonderful work Marlene!” Benita K. Brown author of Elevator 16 YA Christian romance.

The Snowball Effect Brief Summary:

Snowy slopes, chilling behavior and soothsaying encompass this horrorscope in the sequel to The Purging Fire.

Alex and Missy become victims themselves when they try to help their newly found friend sort out the pieces of her confused past. All become engulfed in an avalanche of fear as circumstances turn deadly in The Snowball Effect.

Book Jacket Review:

An enjoyable story with unique circumstances. I like your dialogue. It flows easily. Can’t wait for the next book.

Trish Hubschman, Author of the Tracy Gayle mystery series

I also have a separate novel titled The Cat Stalker’s Sonnets. This is also a Christian mystery romance.

The Cat Stalker’s Sonnets Brief Summary:

Catrin Lein is trying to begin a home business as an answering service owner. As time passes, Cat begins to realize that she is being stalked. Slowly, the past creeps into her present, sending a message of a bleak, and possibly short, future.

Book Jacket Review:

“The Cat Stalker’s Sonnets surprised me in more ways than one! The melodious flow underlined with a mysterious edge kept me completely enthralled. This page turner will captivate and enchant all who delve into its pages.”

Rachel Loepker author of Bleeding Ink: Finding Purpose YA fantasy

I also have a poetry chapbook out in print and ebook titled Edgy Poetry. This is a food for thought piece which I have cited as not for bedtime reading.

If you share my passion for mystery I hope you will visit my website. Thanks so much for reading. I love hearing from readers, please email me at: Marl.Mesot@gmail.com

Buy Book Links:

4 Elements of Mystery Series:

books2read.com/ThePurgingFire

books2read.com/TheSnowballEffect

https://books2read.com/EdgyPoetry

https://books2read.com/TheCatStalkersSonnets

NEWS NUGGETS: New from Abbie Taylor Johnson
Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me
By Abbie Johnson Taylor
Copyright 2021
Independently published with the help of DLD Books

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. Outside, it is bright, with plants on a terrace. There is also a plant behind the woman inside. The woman has white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" on the top and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" on the bottom.

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

Excerpt from Chapter 1

I hated walking with my mom and sister down that long, bright hallway in the nursing home where my grandma lived. The white tile floor and the ceiling covered with fluorescent lights reminded me of school. The only difference was that there were handrails on either side that old people could hold onto while they walked, so they wouldn’t fall.

The blare of television sets from just about every room we passed, laughter and chatter from the nurses’ station, and announcements over the PA system made me wonder why Dad called this place a rest home. The sharp aroma of disinfectant reminded me of the monthly trips I’d made to the dentist years before to have my braces adjusted. I nearly gagged as I remembered the goop they put in my mouth so they could take impressions of my teeth before the braces were put on.

***

To learn where you can get your copy, visit: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com Please feel free to email me at: abbietaylor945@gmail.com

TIPS

Now that we’ve enjoyed learning about all the goings on of our contributors and searching through the assortment of books, products, services, announcements and events in hopes of finding that perfect last minute gift, it’s time for some tasty tips.

This month, straight from Jo’s Kitchen comes a recipe you’ll be delighted to try. Here’s author and proofreader Jo Elizabeth Pinto with a delicious Holiday Treat.

Frosty Pumpkin Dessert
By Jo Elizabeth Pinto

I learned how to make this quick and easy dessert thirty-five years ago in my high school home ec class, and it’s been a practical standby in my repertoire ever since. I can make it ahead of time and tuck it away in the freezer, then take it out in the morning before I’m going to have company over, and let it thaw a bit while I’m busy with other cooking — and it’s a hit at potlucks and holiday parties. Even those who turn their noses up at traditional pumpkin pie are often tempted by this version.

Frosty Pumpkin Dessert

Ingredients:

2 cups pretzels, fairly finely crushed

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted

1/3 cup sugar, white or brown

2 6-ounce packages instant vanilla or coconut pudding mix

2 1-pound cans pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ginger

1-2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups non dairy whipped topping plus more for garnish

walnut or pecan halves for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix crushed pretzels with butter and sugar in a slightly greased 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Spread the mixture across the bottom and a little way up the sides of the dish.

3. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Cool completely.

4. Combine dry pudding mixes with pumpkin, milk, and spices. Stir till smooth and well blended. Gently fold in whipped topping.

5. Spoon pumpkin mixture onto pretzel crust. Freeze till firm.

6. To serve, thaw just enough to cut into squares. Garnish with additional whipped topping and walnut or pecan halves, if desired. Enjoy!

Jo Elizabeth Pinto was among the first blind students to integrate the public schools in the 1970’s. In 1992, she received a degree in Human Services from the University of Northern Colorado. While teaching students how to use adaptive technology, she earned a second degree in 2004 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Nonprofit Management. She freelances as an editor and a braille proofreader and is a contributor of The Writer’s Grapevine Magazine where more such articles as this may be found.

As an author, Pinto entertains her readers while giving them food for thought. In her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, she draws on personal experience to illustrate that hope is always an action away.

Pinto lives in Colorado with her husband, her preteen daughter, and their pets.

Her website is: http://www.brightsideauthor.com.

I don’t know about you but that sounds totally yummy to me. I cannot wait to try it.

AUTHOR’S CORNER

This month, I’m Pleased and Privileged to kick off the Author’s Corner with a guest contribution from Friend and fellow author Victoria Zigler, who prefers Tori.

Before I share her delightful story with you, I’d like to share a little backstory on Tori and me. We met via way of blogging, and after some nudging and needling, I talked her into appearing on my Talk to Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing Podcast. After that, we remained in contact and before we knew it, we’d become fast friends.

Now, Tori co facilitates with me each week during our ACB Community Call – Free to Be Me and we’ve a lot of fun.

Anyhow, I’m over the moon to have Tori in the Holiday Extravaganza and hope to receive more from her in 2022.

And now, Tori’s Tale…

Crystal’s Winter Solstice
By Victoria Zigler

Trying not to wake Mummy, Crystal tiptoed down the hall to the living room. It was dark but for the flickering light cast by the realistic-looking battery-powered candle they had left lit on the windowsill to welcome back the light.

Mummy had said it was real flames in the old days, but they were using a battery-powered candle now for safety. It was okay though, because it was intention that mattered. Crystal had to hope Mummy was right, since none of her friends or extended family celebrated the Solstice like them, so nobody could confirm or deny Mummy’s words.

Navigating by the candle’s dim light, Crystal tiptoed further into the room, peering into the bowl she’d left out for the Yule Elf. Sure enough, his oatmeal was gone, which meant he’d paid his yearly visit.

Fighting back the urge to squeal with delight at the discovery, knowing Mummy would wake if she let it slip, Crystal looked over to where she’d left her stocking hung by the fire, eager to see how full it was.

It wasn’t there.

For long moments, Crystal stared in dismay at the empty space where her stocking should be, feeling the sting of tears as she wondered why the Yule Elf would take her stocking. Had she been naughty? She didn’t remember doing anything bad enough to make the Yule Elf take her stocking. Plus, she’d never heard of him doing that. Leaving unpleasant gifts instead of longed for toys and treats? Yes. But actually taking her stocking? No. It couldn’t be. Could it?

As she tearfully turned to run back to her room, Crystal spotted something in the armchair. It was her stocking; full to the brim with brightly-coloured packages. She knew it was hers, because it had her name on it, lovingly stitched by her Grandmother when Crystal was just a baby. She eagerly reached for it, not caring why it was moved; her tears and Mummy’s rules about waiting for them both to be up were forgotten in her excitement.

“Since you’re up,” said Mummy’s voice from the doorway, “let’s make cocoa and watch the sunrise together. Then we can see what the Yule Elf left.”

Snatching her hand back guiltily, Crystal spun to face Mummy, relieved to see Mummy looked amused rather than angry.

“Get your robe and slippers while I make cocoa,” Mummy said.

Squealing delightedly, Crystal rushed to do as she was told, willing to wait to see what the Yule Elf had left if there was cocoa in it, and no scolding for her impatience.

A short time later, Crystal sat on the swing seat in the cold and frosty yard, huddled beneath a cozy blanket with Mummy. Wearing her warm robe and slippers, cradling a mug of cocoa in both hands, she watched the sky turn rose and gold as the sun began to peek above the Eastern horizon. The stocking full of brightly wrapped gifts was temporarily forgotten in the beauty and magic of the moment.

Victoria Zigler is a blind Welsh Pagan vegan poet and children’s author, who prefers being called Tori, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books. She has a vivid imagination, and spends a lot of time in fictional worlds; whether created by her or other authors. When Tori remembers to remain in the real world, it’s to spend time with her husband and petkids, or else to dabble in one of the various interests that randomly capture her attention. Learn more about Tori and her books via her website at http://www.zigler.co.uk

The next offering comes from Friend and fellow author Trish Hubschman. In this essay Trish gently reminds us how important individual recognition can be for birthdays and other anniversaries which coincide with the holiday season.

Birthday Boy
By Trish Hubschman
November 2021

Kevin was born on December 26, 1961. His maternal great-grandmother’s birthday was the day before his. A few of his aunts were born in late December too. On Christmas Day, his mom would have the entire extended family over to her house. They were Jewish, so it wasn’t to celebrate the holiday. When all were present, she would announce “it’s everyone’s birthday today.” Kevin, a little boy, never got special acknowledgement for his day, no separate gift, no card, no cake with candles. No one sang Happy Birthday to him.

In 1986, two years before I met Kevin, my niece, Randy, was born on December 26th. My brother, Barry, was adamant that no one even whisper the word Birthday to his daughter on Christmas. He would celebrate it the next day. This complicated things for some people, like Dad. He often left on vacation the day after Christmas to go to Georgia to visit his second wife’s sister. One time, after the holiday festivities were done, Dad brought out a birthday cake for Randy. Barry was livid. He screamed at Dad, then stormed out of the house, his wife and kids in tow. Kevin graciously accepted the birthday wishes on Christmas, but he didn’t want to share his special day with anyone again. That meant we didn’t go to Barry’s house for Randy’s birthday party. She understood. I don’t know if the rest of my family did.

On Kevin’s 30th birthday, I was supposed to join him, his parents, and younger brother for a celebration at a restaurant, but I got the flu. I felt terrible, physically and emotionally. I was determined to join his family for the celebration, no matter how awful I felt. I just wanted to lie down and take a nap for a little while before I got ready. I told Mom to wake me up at a certain time. She didn’t. When I awoke on my own, it was very late and the house was quiet. No one was home. They had all gone to my brother’s house for Randy’s birthday party. I had missed Kevin’s and I felt even more terrible.

Kevin’s mom moved to Florida in 1994. For the next decade, she came up to New York for one weekend every year, the first of June. That was Kevin’s younger brother’s birthday. We all went out to dinner. Again, we were back to, “It’s everyone’s birthday.” My birthday’s in March, so early June wasn’t that far off, but Kevin and his brother’s wife’s were in December.

For Kevin’s 40th birthday, his brother and wife took us out to dinner. It was a lovely thought. But his sister-in-law had just lost her younger brother in 9/11, so the birthday celebration had a damper on it.

Ten years later, for Kevin’s Big Golden birthday, two of his friends took him out to dinner. It was just the guys. I went to my brothers for Randy’s birthday. I missed Kevin the whole time.

This year he’ll be 60. For the first time in years, he expressed that he wanted a party. Unfortunately, and I had to tell him this straight-out, that would be impossible the day after Christmas, especially since we live in a different state than my family. I was thinking of having a combined one in March for our 30th wedding anniversary/his belated 60th birthday. That’s up to him. But whatever he decides, we’ll do our best to make it the best birthday ever.

Trish Hubschman is the author of the Tracy Gayle mystery series, Tidalwave, Stiff Competition/Miss America, and Ratings Game/Talk Show Queen. Tracy is a Long Island private detective. Her sidekick, Danny Tide, is the leader of the rock band, Tidal Wave.

She is a graduate of Long Island University’s Southampton Campus and has a bachelor’s degree in English-Writing. She worked for New York State Civil Service. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Kevin, and their dog, Henry.

Her email address is palhub@rcn.com.

Her website is www.dldbooks.com/Hubschman/.

Next up in the author’s Corner, we’ve Friend and fellow author Abbie Johnson Taylor with a tantalizing taste of her newest release ‘Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me’. I’ve got to say, this is a great book and would, in my opinion, make a great reading gift for the YA reader in your life.

EXCERPT FROM WHY GRANDMA DOESN’T KNOW ME
By Abbie Johnson Taylor

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.
After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

Chapter 30

Natalie

The next morning, Sarah shook me awake before it was light. “Natalie, wake up. It’s Christmas! Let’s see what’s in our stockings!”

“You know we can’t do that. We have to wait until everybody’s up. That’s the rule.”

Footsteps sounded in the hall, and someone tapped on the door.

“Come in,” we said.

The door opened, and Grandpa stuck in his head. “Grandma’s making hot chocolate. You girls might as well come down.”

“Are Mom and Dad up yet?” I asked.

“No, not yet, so be quiet.”

We put on our robes and slippers. Squeakers jumped out of his bed and wagged his tail. Sarah picked him up. “Come on, Squeakers. We put a stocking up for you. Let’s see what Santa brought!”

In the living room, as we did every year, Sarah and I gazed in wonder at the blinking lights on the Christmas tree, the packages underneath it, and the bulging stockings hanging above the fireplace. Grandpa was in one of the armchairs, his nose buried in a newspaper.

I noticed a box on the mantle above my stocking with a note pinned to it. I walked over to take a closer look.

Without lowering the newspaper, Grandpa said, “Don’t you dare! Sit down, and let’s wait for your parents.”

“I’m just looking,” I protested. I spotted a brand name on the side of the box. “Olympus! It’s a camera!”

Grandpa lowered the newspaper. “Why don’t you girls go see if your grandmother needs help with the hot chocolate?”

“Okay,” said Sarah, turning toward the kitchen. “Squeakers probably needs to go out, anyway.”

I reluctantly followed her out of the living room.

A few minutes later, we were all sitting in the living room, drinking hot chocolate. Sarah and I were on the couch with Squeakers between us, and Grandma and Grandpa were across from us in armchairs.

***

Note: Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me is available from Bookshare, Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sources. You can visit my website at the link below for more information and ordering links. Please feel free to email me at: abbietaylor945@gmail.com

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of five novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. She is visually impaired and lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where, for six years, she cared for her late husband, totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, she worked for fifteen years as a registered music therapist in nursing homes and other facilities and served the visually impaired community in a variety of ways. Please visit her website at: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Before I share the next item on tap in the Author’s Corner, I’d like to say that today, as I’m putting together this Amazing Extravaganza for you, I’ve felt a bit blue. However, reading Friend and Fellow author and proofreader Jo Elizabeth Pinto’s story I’m reminded of the simplest pleasures of life and just as a warm beam of sun can melt the frostiest drift of snow, so has this tale warmed my heart.

Let’s join Jo as she takes us down a holiday memory lane…

My Christmas Fidget Spinner
By Jo Elizabeth Pinto

Two days before Christmas, we got a sudden snowstorm in Colorado. The storm was brief, but it left behind enough snow to cover the sidewalks with a few inches of white fluff. When the sun reappeared, my nine-year-old daughter took the initiative and bundled herself up in a long-sleeved shirt and a fleece-lined sweatshirt, a pair of jeans and some waterproof snow pants, three pairs of socks, high boots, a winter coat, mittens, and a neon pink knitted stocking cap with a pom-pom on top. Nearly as round as she was tall, she hustled out the door, ready to earn a few dollars shoveling sidewalks for the neighbors on our block.

“I’ll give you five bucks to do our front walk between the house and the street,” I offered, afraid she might not find other takers. “You need to clear the walk along the street, and the brick path that goes to where I take the dog out. Never mind the driveway—your dad’s car will pack that snow right down when he comes home.”

It turned out two other neighbors let my daughter shovel for them as well.

“Your girl’s a fine young entrepreneur,” Dick, the kind old man from across the street, told me later. “You bet I’ll support that.”

When my daughter had been gone for well over an hour, I started to get concerned. I had just reached for my coat, intending to venture out and search for her, when she burst through the door on a gust of frigid air. She had a small plastic bag in her hand. I figured she had gone to Seven-11 at the end of the street, eager to spend her hard-won earnings on candy.

She threw off her wet wrappings and marched straight to her art shelf. For the rest of the afternoon, she busied herself with glue, scissors, and who knew what, all the while gleefully hinting that I was going to love the present I would find under the tree on Christmas morning.

“It cost me ten bucks, Mom!” she finally blurted out, unaware of the social taboo that generally stops people from telling others how much has been spent on their Christmas gifts.

When our little girl had half sweet-talked and half strong-armed us out of bed on the big day, her dad and I put on our bathrobes, made coffee, and settled ourselves by the Christmas tree. Surprisingly, before our excited kid opened a single gift of her own, she dropped a small tissue paper package into my lap. I peeled off a mile and a half of Scotch tape and unwrapped a fidget spinner. The thumb grip was covered with yellow sequins that had been glued firmly in place.

“There’s a picture of Aqua-Man® under the sequins,” my daughter said. “He was all they had at Seven-11, and you had to have a fidget spinner because you always spin mine while you think of what to write about on your computer. So I had to buy Aqua-Man® with my shoveling money and find a way to cover him up since he’s a boy and you’re a girl. Girls don’t do boy superheroes, you know. I tried yellow paper, but then it wouldn’t spin, so sparkles were the only way. I picked yellow because you like the sun so much. If you could see, I think you’d like the color of sunshine.”

I hugged and kissed my little girl, who I decided right then must have the biggest heart in the state of Colorado.

This story appears in my mothering memoir, Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark. To find out about this book and my other two, please visit my author Website at https://www.brightsideauthor.com.

Jo Elizabeth Pinto was among the first blind students to integrate the public schools in the 1970’s. In 1992, she received a degree in Human Services from the University of Northern Colorado. While teaching students how to use adaptive technology, she earned a second degree in 2004 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Nonprofit Management. She freelances as an editor and a braille proofreader and is a contributor of The Writer’s Grapevine Magazine where more such articles as this may be found.

As an author, Pinto entertains her readers while giving them food for thought. In her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, she draws on personal experience to illustrate that hope is always an action away.

Pinto lives in Colorado with her husband, her preteen daughter, and their pets.

POETRY PLACE

Welcome to the Poetry Place. I must say, I got a lot of grand submissions for the Holiday Extravaganza but the poem I’ve chosen to start us off with is to me one that captures the season in a most brilliant way.

Here’s Friend and fellow author Butterfly Thomas with her thoughts on the meaning of the season.

The Meaning
By Butterfly Thomas

Please tell me the meaning

Of Christmas

Is it for those we miss?

Or the ones who miss us?

Please explain the meaning

Is it for toys and gifts?

Or to spread joy and uplift?

For some it’s the decorations and seasonal blooms

For others, it’s the sounds and the yuletide tunes

But what’s the meaning for he who lives alone?

Is it just another day?

When there’s no comfort but an empty home?

Ah, it’s about the love of the savior

It’s not about good or bad behavior

At least not so much

It’s about blessings and favor

It’s about embracing your neighbors

It’s the love for me

For friends

For family

But in truth

All of these things are true

What it means for me

May differ for you

And that’s okay it’s cool

It can be more than one thing

Or two

It can be regrets and memories

The thoughts of the lost people you once knew

It can be of jingle bells and Christmas trees

Sleigh rides and snowshoes

And I’m going on a tangent here

But I’m trying to make sure I’m very clear

Your reason to celebrate is yours alone

Someone else’s reason is not for you to condone

So whether it’s the festivities

Or the nativity

Remember what I say

At this time of year

Whether for laughter or tears…

We all deserve a little grace

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays!

You can contact me at butterfly.m.enterprises@gmail.com

I am currently working on two books of poetry, one of which I hope to have released next year. I’m not sure where I will include this piece. I was asked to write a poem for the virtual Christmas celebration at my job a few weeks ago and this is what I put together.

You can find my other works here: https://www.dldbooks.com/bthomas/

Butterfly Thomas was born in Germany but was raised in Virginia, where she still lives.

She is the author of In My Feelings: A Book of Poetry and the novel Head Held High (2018), an urban thriller.

Next, for your reading pleasure, Friend and fellow author Marlene Mesot joins us to add a bit of romance to the festivities.

I ask you, what would a Holiday Extravaganza be without some love?

The Night Before Christmas
(Ballad)
By Marlene Mesot
12/12/2020

’Twas the night before Christmas

And I could not find,

The perfect gift for my dear one,

That I had in mind.

I went to the mall

Where there was such a clatter

Of vehicles going in and out

Nothing else seemed to matter.

Feelings were growing

As dating will do.

But we hadn’t know each other

Very long, this was true.

I wanted to make our time special—

That was very clear.

But what could I do?

Finally I had an idea.

Take her to my grandparents’ farm

To spend Christmas day.

Then in the evening,

We’ll take a ride in the sleigh.

I’ll tell her my feelings

On that Christmas night,

As we’re stopped by the woods

And I’m holding her tight.

Marlene Mesot writes contemporary Christian mystery, suspense, romance, short stories and poetry. She has also written a one-act play which is included as bonus material in her novel The Purging Fire.

Marlene Mesot, an only child, grandchild and niece from Manchester New Hampshire, and deceased husband Albert, have two sons, two grandchildren and English Mastiff dogs. She is legally blind and moderately deaf due to nerve damage at premature birth. She has loved writing since early childhood.

Marlene holds a Bachelor of Education degree from Keene State in Keene, New Hampshire and a Masters in Library and Information Studies from U-NC Greensboro, North Carolina.

Her website is: http://www.marlsmenagerie.com

Friend and fellow author and proofreader, Jo Elizabeth Pinto is back with a bit of wintry magik to set our Holidays a glow…

The Maiden of the Snow
By Jo Elizabeth Pinto

The maiden of the snow

Came softly with the dawn

And set the world aglow

When night had barely gone.

About her flowed a gown

That shimmered purest white

And in her blazing crown

Were countless gems of light.

The sun lit up her face

And sparkled in her eyes

And touched her with a grace

As wide as all the skies.

She but a moment stayed

Then softly slipped away

As dreams so often fade

When morning turns to day.

Jo Elizabeth Pinto was among the first blind students to integrate the public schools in the 1970’s. In 1992, she received a degree in Human Services from the University of Northern Colorado. While teaching students how to use adaptive technology, she earned a second degree in 2004 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Nonprofit Management. She freelances as an editor and a braille proofreader and is a contributor of The Writer’s Grapevine Magazine where more such articles as this may be found.

As an author, Pinto entertains her readers while giving them food for thought. In her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, she draws on personal experience to illustrate that hope is always an action away.

Pinto lives in Colorado with her husband, her preteen daughter, and their pets.

Her website is: http://www.brightsideauthor.com.

As we close our poetry readings for another year, I give you Friend and fellow author and artist Lynda McKinney Lambert with her poetic Tidings of joy!

Lynda is a true artist in every sense of the word, for as I read this poem in preparation to include it in our celebration of the season, I was transported to this joyous wintry scene.

Christmastide Crows
By Lynda McKinney Lambert

Azure blue-violet sky brings secrets to light

Begins to reveal figures ascending and descending

Crows circle, alight beneath archaic Winter Pear tree

Dark and bold crows flock to seize

Every morsel on the beaten path. This

Festive season of crow gatherings begin on Christmas Eve when

Gusts of wind bring screeches and craws from

High in the heavens. Black wings swoop low to the ground.

I discovered I am a crow spirit

Jostling for my place at the dining table

Keeping the -prophetic secrets of

Liturgical years for new generations.

My weighted steps crush the squeaking snow

Noel — Noel — Noel. I sing this holy song

On the first day of Christmastide.

Pampas grass lies weighted to the ground

Quivering in the frigid breeze

Red berries dangle from barberry branches

Snow clusters on thin branches form

Tangled tapestries like spare drawings

Undulating and hovering from beneath

Vertical thin strokes of wintry graffiti

Waving towards the frozen road

X-ing and scratching, crow’s feet stamp the snow

Yuletide morning flights of gyrating crows.

Zero degrees outside.

Several plants and a salt lamp sit on a warm brown wooden table in front of a window. The salt lamp on the right of the photo is a rounded and slightly misshapen rectangle of softly glowing, opaque, orange salt. The plants all have woody stems and rough leaves, and grow from a variety of earth-toned ceramic planters. Snow is visible out the multi-panel window, covering the ground and the branches of a pine tree.

Note:

Christmastide (“Christmas time”), is more commonly called, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Sometimes, this season is referred to as Twelve tide (“Twelve time”).

Christmastide is a season of the liturgical year in most Christian churches.

Christmastide begins on December 25 – and ends on January 5.

Lynda’s spare poems and thoughtful essays are published internationally. She is nominated in two categories (Art and Creative Non-Fiction Essay) for Skirt Best of the Net Award, 2021

Proverse (Hong Kong selected her for “Special Mention,” for “a body of work.” Six poems will appear in Mingled Voices6, April 2022.

Lynda’s work can be found at: http://www.lyndalambert.com

FAVORITE LINKS

As many of you know, I’m an avid blog reader and internet surfer who is always on the lookout for great content to share.

When I come upon something that totally knocks my socks off, I save the link in a folder so I can share it here.

If you happen to run across something which grabs your attention, please feel free to send the link to me so we can all enjoy it. In the meantime, here are my Favorite links this month.

Yesterday, while scrolling through email, I received this surprise.

Interview With Author Trish Hubschman
Link: https://bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com/2021/12/interview-with-author-trish-hubschman.html

Per request, my interview on In Perspective Podcast: https://www.brancoevents.com/in-perspective-231-with-patty-fletcher-author-of-pathway-to-freedom-broken-and-healed-book-one-how-a-seeing-eye-dog-retrieved-my-life-second-edition/

From Casey Mathews Virtual Tech Advisor and Tech Assistant…

Casey says, “Patty, I just had to send this to you.”

Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2JhpNbe2Io&list=PLhRK5cZxfPO4z3xGdbvAvOCU7jhkh7r5o&index=30

From Robbie’s Inspiration – Recipes from Around the World: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2021/12/13/robbies-inspiration-recipes-from-around-the-world-beef-lasagne/

From Lynda Lambert’s Ten Things of Thankful: https://www.lyndalambert.com/ttot_dec10_2021/

From Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Café Christmas Book Fair: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2021/12/09/smorgasbord-christmas-book-fair-childrens-wombat-norah-colvin-bullying-eloise-de-sousa-success-j-q-rosepuppytails-patty-fletcher-oceans-annabelle-franklin/

And to wrap up the month From Annie Chiappetta: https://www.outlooken.org/news/article/the-way-i-see-it-ann-chiappetta

CLOSING

We here at The Writer’s Grapevine value your thoughts. Be sure to let us know what you think about the magazine by emailing either me or our contributors.

This ends the Writer’s Grapevine Holiday Extravaganza. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

As requested above, if you’ve any feedback for me or others who contribute to the magazine, you may send it directly to the author, or you may send it to me at: patty.volunteer1@gmail.com.

Thank you for reading.

May Harmony Find You. Happy Holidays and Blessid Be.

5 Comments

  1. First impressions mean a lot – and the newly revised logo made a really great first impression as I opened this holiday issue tonight. I like the cleaner, more refined look – and I love the two foxes that bring a feeling of livingness to the imagery of the grapevines. The dynamic energy of the circling foxes brought my thoughts into another dimension and gave me additional iconic references. I enjoyed reading through the entire magazine tonight – and I’ll return again over the weekend to read it more deeply. But overall, I think you have really brought this magazine new energy and I wanted to let you know my first thought. I am a great believer in Allen Ginsberg’s advice, “first thought, best thought.” This is my first thought upon doing a quick read through tonight. Thank you for being “first publisher,” of my poem, “Christmas Crows.” I’ll be posting it on the first day of Christmastide on my blog and will give you recognition for that. The poem describes my life in rural western PA and the scene in my back yard every day as I feed the crows. I am honored to have it featured in this lovely magazine. I will put a link to the magazine on my blog and on my FB page (Walking by Inner Vision with Lynda McKinney Lambert) on Christmas Day – to celebrate the beginning of Christmastide. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for reblogging and thanks to all who are reading.

      1. We’re happy to see this shared here.
        Thanks so much.

  2. […] little scene was published in the current issue of The Writer’s Grapevine, which you can read here. It’s Christmas morning, and sixteen-year-old Natalie and her ten-year-old sister Sarah, along […]

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