IndieBRAG Holiday Blog Hop

I have joined indieBRAG Medallion honorees for the month of December, on, for  this Christmas Blog Hop. Participating authors will share tales of Christmas traditions and more. Enjoy! And Happy Holidays to you!

Dad worked on the Christmas tree lot for the Optimists Club every year, selling beautiful and fresh-smelling pines and cedars. He could have xmastressbrought home the fullest, tallest, most gorgeous tree, but money was always tight. We didn’t get the Charlie Brown tree, but we’d inspect the ones in the back of the lot and find one that was misshapen – you know, that one that had a noticeable gap in the branches. But it was our tree! Covered in lights, balls, and tinsel (and with that gap facing the corner wall), it was perfect.

When I was growing up, the tree would go up in the first or second week of December. My mom made the holidays so festive – she loved to fill the house with greenery, sparkly lights, Christmas candles, even Christmas-y soaps in the bathrooms. The dining room table would be decked out in holiday colors, except when it was laden with presents being wrapped! One present that wouldn’t be there was Dad’s gift for Mom. Around 3 or 4pm on Christmas Eve, Dad would say ‘let’s go.’ We were off to the store to find a gift. He always knew exactly what he was going to buy, so we weren’t parading from one shop to the next. Straight to the appliance section for that new microwave; or to the jewelry counter – sometimes to both!

Mom made food gifts every year. Fudge, a dozen variety of cookies, and lasagna! We had lasagna-making parties. Four or more of us would sit at the kitchen table. Four types of cheeses would be shredded (none of that already shredded package stuff). Cooked noodles were in one bowl; more were cooking on the stove top. And the sauce – oh my! Mom called it her ‘meat sauce’ recipe, but Grandma Natale called it gravy.

My old card with Mom’s recipe is well-splattered, and I use the kitchen counter now to pull together my versions of sauce and lasagna. My pot is about 1/8 the size of the one Mom used. If you want the recipe for the meat sauce, I blogged about it 3 years ago; and Mom’s lasagna was delicioso! Lasagna has been our traditional Christmas dinner since I was a kid. Last year, we continued the tradition at my daughter’s house. My sons couldn’t join us, but they do remember that wonderful lasagna.

Nowadays at my house the tree trimming begins the day after Thanksgiving. I want to enjoy the holiday lights – including my Yoda tree-topper –  for several weeks. In my single-parent household,  we usually celebrated the holiday a week early every other year. The kids got two Christmases – one in Kansas and another in Florida. We enjoyed the tree when they returned, sometimes until the end of January. I do admit, I stop playing Christmas music on New Year’s Day.

What is or was your favorite stocking gift(s)?
Chocolate. Do people put other things in stockings?

What is your favorite Christmas story?
That’s a tough one… How about 3?
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; and
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.

Egg Nog or Cocoa?
I can have cocoa anytime throughout the year, so egg nog is a real treat during the holidays.

What is your favorite part of Christmas day?
I love the smell of spaghetti sauce bubbling away on the stove top for hours, the lasagna & italian sausage cooking, garlic bread baking, and just relaxing with family with Christmas lights blazing and music playing.

Do you go all out on Christmas decorations?
That would be a “yes.”  

(I had to include the blizzard picture – that was Christmas Day a few years back!)

What is your favorite Christmas movie and why?
White Christmas
. I love the music & singing, the dancing, the story. I cry every time the General sees what his friends and family have done for him. A favorite memory is of Mom and her sister Betty doing the sisters’ routine for a party at their retirement community.

Thank you for stopping by. Check out the other indieBRAG holiday participants. The next stop on the indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop is tomorrow, December 13, with Martha Kennedy 

Happy Holidays to you & yours.

Family Peace, Christmas, & lasagna

The final countdown has begun. I shipped the files for the novel to Jaye Manus for formatting. In a few days – assuming Jaye can make heads or tails of the .doc file – I’ll be reviewing proofs for Kindle format! You can’t imagine the work that goes into formatting a Word document to make it look good on an e-reader.

Jaye tells me once the proofs are approved, she’ll do some tweaking so the files are available in other formats. I’ll be making the novel available at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. I’m not sure what the timeline will be, so keep checking back here for that announcement. EEEEEK!

Now I can start thinking about Christmas. I used to decorate over my Thanksgiving break, but novel revisions kept me busy. I haven’t done a thing yet other than rearrange a couple of chairs in my great room. Found a few dust bunnies in the process. 🙂

I did make 3 pans of lasagna today in between my final files preparation for Jaye. One was delivered to co-worker Laurel – get well soon! The other 2 are in the freezer, ready to be whipped out for holiday meals with the family.

making lasagna
my lasagna assembly line

I’ve carried on my mom’s tradition of lasagna for Christmas dinner. My kids would be upset if we had anything else. I set up my assembly line today but had no helpers. When I was a kid, 3 or 4 of us would sit around the kitchen table and make a dozen pans. Mom had a humongous stock pot that bubbled with her homemade sauce. The house smelled wonderful! I know she’d forgive me for using doctored Prego – she stopped making her own when she was in her 70s.

So – lasagna is one Christmas tradition at my house. My writer friend Jen Fitzgerald has been blogging about her tradtions. What about you? What traditions do you have?

not listening to the calls of chapter 1…

I am desperately trying to pretend that I don’t have 95,000+ words on my hard drive calling my name. A couple of weeks ago I asked the twitterati (is that the right term?) if they put their novels aside for a brief time before diving into revisions of a 1st (or 2nd/3rd) draft. It’s also a question I posed at writers group. And the general consensus is: shelve the manuscript for at least a month or two. Work on something else.

This must be the only time when procrastination is all right!

So…ways to avoid revising the first draft:

  • enjoyed the holidays with the kids (daugher & her fiance were here 1½ days – both had to work on the 26th; #1 son here for a week from FL; #2 son working every day but the 25th)
  • watched a lot more television than usual – #1 son added several National Geographic/PBS documentaries, Trailer Park Boys, The Riches, and Out of Practice to my Netflix queue; I got him to watch episode 1 of Torchwood and Sherlock (BBC version); we also watched Christmas Vacation & many more
  • listened to #1 son’s new music; got introduced to
  • saw Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
  • discussed the novel’s cover art with #1 son
  • watched #2 son work on a computer programming for a new site he & friends are working on
  • made some notes about the novel’s synopsis, hook, and a ‘product description’ I might use for Amazon even though I am months away from that
  • hung out with some virtual friends, too many of whom are posting spoilers for shows I won’t see for months because I don’t have cable or don’t live in the UK where they are airing
  • reading: A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Valknut: The Binding, and What Stays in Vegas, and numerous blog posts
  • re-read a sci fi story I wrote as a screenplay – its novelization will be my next big writing adventure
  • revised a historical fiction piece I wrote a couple of years ago; time to take this back to writers group, revise again, and look for a market

…and a hundred other things.

Tomorrow it’s back to the day job.