A Kedran’s Wood Christmas

Hey guys! I have a couple announcements and then I want to share a snippet of a Tare and Chess Club Christmas scene with y’all!

NaNo Post

Firstly, if you missed it, I talked about how my 10th NaNo went in this post!

(It didn’t go out to inboxes because I accidentally scheduled it to post November 9th instead of December 9th… while it was December. Further proof of how dead I was after NaNo. *headdesk* Anywayyy…)

Blogging Hiatus

Secondly, I’ll be taking a blogging break for the next couple of weeks to enjoy the holidays, so this will probably be my last post of the year . . . and decade. :O

I will (hopefully) see y’all in 2020 with some recaps or something.

About this Snippet

Okay, on to the story behind this post!

This spring, I finished my Kedran’s Wood story set at Christmas-time (like I’m hoping to finish my Kedran’s Wood novella set in the spring . . . sometime this month if I can . . . which is Christmas-time. The irony).

But since it’s 145K words and book 2 in the (contemporary fantasy) series, and rather a mess, it’s going to be . . . awhile until such things as publishing or whatever is going to happen with it, happens. XD

However! Since I did finish it, that means I have actual Christmas scenes! With my characters!

(Not just a blog tag interview with my characters like I did last year for my Other Half of Everything peeps. Which was tons of fun and you should go read if you missed it. XD *I just re-read it myself and honestly had a BLAST* *cough*)

I wanted to share something Christmas-y with you guys here on my blog, and thought that a bit of Chess Club and Tare Christmas-spirit would be a fun thing to share. ^_^

Disclaimer: This is from a first draft. It’s also near the end of the book, and more happens before and after it. I also redacted a couple of spoilers. But it stands alone pretty well as an adorable Christmas scene with some of my favorite characters, and I hope y’all enjoy it. 🙂

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my dear blog readers!


Excerpt from the end of The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2), work-in-progress by Deborah O’Carroll

They followed Tare and found themselves suddenly in a clearing surrounded by pines and firs, snow covering the ground, and in the very center grew a tall fir tree, decked out in glowing splendor—literally.

Soft white and yellow lights sparkled all over it, with a few garlands and red or gold or white globe decorations and other minor items hanging here and there, tastefully, with a white angel at the very top, and still some snow on it from the light dusting earlier that evening.

It was just the right time of night when it was not fully dark and the sky was velvet-midnight-blue and scattered with a few beginning stars, but it was dark enough to appreciate the radiant tree lighting up the clearing and bathing their upturned faces in golden light.

“So remember what I told you about being too busy to decorate?” Tare said. “And how I didn’t have a Christmas tree?”

“Trees live outside,” Lavender whisper-laughed.

He glanced at her. “Exactly.”

“It’s beautiful,” Robin breathed in awe.

“It’s perfect,” Marie said.

And several others murmured something along those lines.

“I figured it wasn’t much good for one person . . .” Tare said, folding his arms and looking up at it. “It kind of needs a few. So. That’s what I wanted to show you guys.”

“It’s like your gift to the Chess Club, huh?” Baz said.

Tare got a shifty look. “Maybe,” he said, and added, “[redacted] helped. A little.”

“Where is [redacted]?” Adrian asked.

“Off doing mysterious [redacted] or something.”

“Goodness knows you know nothing about going off and being all mysterious,” Ivy said.

“Exactly.” Tare either missed the point, or missed it on purpose.

Small Occasion was straining at his leash in Mr. Larch’s grip, trying to get closer to the tree—all the sparklies and hanging things that might be chewable! (There had been some small wars between Small and the tree in Mr. Larch’s house, which had resulted in it being blocked off where Small couldn’t get at it to attack it with his joy and love.)

“Well. Go look at it if you want. It’s not fragile,” Tare said, making shooing motions with one hand.

They laughed and moved forward, away from where they’d been clustered at the very edge of the clearing, to look at Tare’s Christmas tree. It was even more beautiful up close, simple but so elegant, and so perfect in this setting. Tare had brought Christmas into Kedran’s Wood.

“Oh, there are chess piece ornaments! How absolutely perfect!” Robin said.

Tare coughed. “Those are actually . . . for you guys.”

Everyone looked at him and blinked.

Tare crossed his arms tighter and went on, “They’re not ornaments, they’re necklaces, and I made them for you.”

All eyes blinked at him for a moment and he looked more uncomfortable than Lavender had ever seen him.

“Oh—!” She and Ivy apparently had the same idea and both spontaneously lunged toward him.

His awkward look vanished, replaced with alarm, and he staved them off by hastily raising both hands defensively. “Ah, no. I don’t do hugs. That’s too much like—you know—getting attacked. I might kill you or something. You never know.”

Ivy snorted. “Sure.” But she and Lavender respected his distance and reversed course.

“This one has your name on it, Adrian!” Jake called excitedly, looking around on the branches.

“Coming,” Adrian said, and walked past Tare, giving him a friendly slap on the shoulder, grinning.

Tare half-dodged it but didn’t seem to mind terribly, and stood by, watching with arms folded again.

There was something of a fun treasure hunt scramble as everyone searched the branches of the Christmas tree for the little natural-wood-colored chess pieces hanging on silver chains, with names carved around their bases, and everyone matched up everyone else with the proper names.

Small got loose and happily galloped around and around the base of the tree, yapping and joining in the noises of laughter. Finally everyone had their chess necklace and tilted them toward the Christmas tree light to examine them.

They were all the chess pieces except the pawns: Mr. Larch’s was a king piece, Robin’s a queen. Adrian and Ivy had knight pieces, Baz and Lavender bishops—“because I’m a saint and/or my head-slash-mind is so sharp,” Baz said, nodding wisely and causing much eye-rolling—and the Valerian siblings each had rook pieces.

“There have got to be some lonely pawns back at your place to complete the set,” Mr. Larch said with a grin.

“Nooo,” Tare said, “because I carved these which means they are the set.”

Everyone blinked at him again.

“You carved these?” Baz yelped.

“What?” Tare shrugged. “I had to have something to do all those sleepless nights to avoid nightmares. I do have some skills besides killing monsters and freaking you guys out whenever I use technology. So. Those are my gift to the Chess Club,” Tare clarified.

“They’re perfect—thank you!” Everyone said their thanks and Tare looked at his feet and muttered something—and it was a little too dark to be sure but he might have been smiling.

Lavender clutched hers and thought she was probably glowing as much as the tree. She hung the chess piece necklace around her neck and the others began to as well.

“You don’t have one, though,” Adrian said, once everyone was wearing theirs.

Tare held up his hands. “Fine with me. I’m not the Chess Club.”

“Yeah, but you’re like an honorary member,” Ivy said.

“Maybe,” Baz said, “but we’re ‘the Chess Club and Tare,’ and if Tare was one of us it would just be ‘the Chess Club’ and that’s not quite as cool.”

“It is really bothering me that I keep agreeing with him,” Tare muttered. “Got one thing wrong, though. It’s Tare and the Chess Club, not the other way around.”

They laughed and agreed, even Baz.

A peaceful quiet settled over the snowy glade and they wandered slowly around, just looking contentedly at the tree together in silence. Even Small had gone silent, since Robin had picked him up.

It was almost Christmas Eve. Despite the cold, the tree’s glow lit their faces and their hearts. The wood sighed in the breeze around them and the stars shone.

Someone started singing Silent Night. Slowly, everyone else picked it up and joined in—except Tare, who seemed a little distracted—standing in a ring around the Christmas tree and filling the glade with their soft voices.

Ishness! NaNo, Christmas, New Year

Oh, hi, my dear Roadlings! It’s been absolutely AGES since I did an Ishness (I think the last one was my Realm Makers Ishness?) — or, well, blogged in general (*cough* I’m sorry, guys!) — so it’s CLEARLY time to do so again!

November, December, and January are the three months which at the blink of an eye mysteriously vanish to wherever missing pens go. So obviously this whole not-blogging-much thing is not my fault. (I jest. It’s totally my fault. And the unreliable internet which has been victimizing me.)

I guess I’ve been busy living life instead of writing about it? And kind of unmotivated as far as blogging goes. Sometimes you just feel tired, you know? But I’ve missed you guys! And writing Ishness posts!

(I . . . er . . . accidentally wrote one after NaNo and then proceeded to get so busy that I never posted it! :O Whoops. So I will just squeeze two more months onto it. As you were.)

So I’m officially back, and I’m here with a recap of my 9th NaNoWriMo, December holidays, and New Year beginnings!

WRITING

November

Writing highlights include:

  • Winning NaNo for the 9th time!
  • Finishing The Siren and the Skyship!!! (Still in the clouds about this one.) *pretends that wasn’t a terrible pun* XD
  • Beating my personal record of words in a day and writing 8K words. 😛
  • Wordwars!! Wordsprinting with friends is one of my favorite things. It’s just so motivating and it’s fun hanging out online with people and getting to chat but also being productive. Seriously, surviving NaNo is so much easier with wordsprints!
  • Finishing NaNo on the 27th!
  • Staying up until midnight on November 30th writing until the very last moment, cheering on one of my bestest writing pals (who won with three minutes to spare).
  • Hitting 58K, my largest wordcount for a single month, ever! (Yay for more records! XD)
  • Staying on par the entire month! (A huge relief. I hate falling behind, and the first week or so it was a serious struggle to stay on that bar, but I managed it because I was determined not to fall behind!)
  • Getting soooo close to finishing KW2. Just two or three chapters from the end. I was super excited. (Plus, finishing “Part 2” of that book, which was a milestone I kept not being sure if I’d ever get to. XD)

It was tough sometimes, and I had my share of days when I just didn’t want to write, or had no clue where to go next in my stories. But I stayed on track, finished one book and nearly finished another, and it was an excellent NaNo on the whole!

December + January

I’m squishing these together because not a lot happened in them, writing-wise. *cough* I had big plans of finishing KW2 in December . . . and then in January . . . and neither really happened. 😛

I did write a couple thousand words across the two months, mostly on KW2. I also finished one writing journal and started another for the new year, did some plotting, and met up with various writer friends (!!) and went to a few writers workshops.

OH! And I did write on my “Writing Day” which happens every January 20th. Because every year on that day, I write something, even if it’s just a snippet, and since I first started in 2010, this was my tenth annual one. Every January 20th for a decade, I wrote on one of my stories, and that’s kind of special to me. 🙂

It was overall a very quiet couple of months on the writing front. I’m trying to forgive myself for that, given the busyness and tiredness and all of that. I did sort of write 58K in November, so a couple of quiet months to recover should be allowed. Maybe?

READING

November – December (in reverse order)

Highlights included Mark of the Raven, Falling Snow, fun Christmas-y stories, finishing my Dalemark re-read, and my new favorite, Echo North! (It’s like a month and a half since I’ve read Echo North and I still have a book hangover…)

January

I got off to a fun start for my reading this year. Highlights include The Fall of Gondolin and A Tale of Time City. You can check out mini-thoughts on each of these in my latest Book Ishness over on my book blog!

WATCHING

  • I saw Mortal Engines in the theater and it was SO MUCH FUN. XD I don’t know why I liked it but it was an absolute blast and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. (And now I want to read the book.)
  • I also saw Mary Poppins Returns, which was fairly enjoyable. I particularly liked the lamplighter dance scene!

Other notable things I saw in the last three months:

  • Despicable Me 2 (fun!).
  • Mowgli (. . . interesting).
  • Some Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes since I hadn’t seen any of those before!
  • A neat mystery called Ace Wonder which I really enjoyed!
  • I also finished the second season of NCIS and am NOT OKAY. *cough*
  • Re-watched It’s a Wonderful Life and A Muppet Christmas Carol for Christmas. 🙂
  • And I re-watched Captain America: Civil War (because Bucky!) and Snow White and the Huntsman (because Thor wasn’t in Captain America; KIDDING. XD).
  • And I finally saw The Secret World of Arrietty which is MY NEW FAVORITE THING. ❤ (I grew up reading the Borrowers books, and vaguely avoided the movie for years because I was terrified it would be dreadful. But I ADORED IT. And have a sudden need to re-watch it and Howl’s Moving Castle and go find more Studio Ghibli films since those are the only two I’ve seen.)

LISTENING

So, back in November, I started listening to Scarlet by Marissa Meyer on audiobook. I NEVER LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS. (Well. Almost never. Let’s just say it’s an Occasion. A small one, but still.) I was at a write-in and saw it at the library and couldn’t resist picking it up since I read Cinder not long before. This was a Terrible Idea because I was far too busy to finish it during NaNo and it had to go back to the library. However! I did enjoy myself and have picked it up again recently — but that’s probably part of some future February Ishness so HUSH. SPOILERS.

During Nano, I also did a ton of listening to the Piano Guys’ version of Rewrite the Stars, on repeat, during wordwars. XD

December brought Christmas music which I really enjoyed this year for some reason.

In January, I discovered some new music such as Celtic rock and Tide Lines (a new favorite band! This song has been stuck in my head nonstop and yes I am currently listening to it and regret nothing. XD) and some others. I must listen to more!

Continuing my audiobook obsession, I re-listened to The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame in January — it’s very short but HILARIOUS and absolutely awesome and I highly recommend reading it. ❤

LIFE

November

November was terribly busy. In a good way. But whew! I’m very much a homebody and I have no idea how people manage to write NaNo when they’re busy and juggling jobs/school/whatever. I salute you guys. But anyway…

Busy (but awesome) things included:

  • Hardly being home the first four days of NaNo and squeezing in writing here and there, in places like the car on the way to-and-from places.
  • An awesome library book-sale which always coincides nicely with NaNo when I should be writing. XD

 

  • My aunt and uncle visiting, which was so much fun! And taking them to the Magnolia Market/Silos etc. (If any of y’all come see it, let me know . . . 😉 I haven’t seen the show, but.)
  • I’m the ML — which stands for Municipal Liaison — for my NaNo region so I was quite busy organizing events, sending messages, and managing forums. One more crazy thing during NaNo. XD I’ve done it six years now, so I’m kind of used to it, but it’s still busy.

  • Having write-in events every weekend — there was much writing and hanging out with other Wrimos.
  • Which reminds me that some of the best moments were chatting with friends old and new — at home, at booksales, at a writer class, at write-ins, in line for a bookstore. I’m an introvert sometimes, but you know, people are awesome too. ❤

  • Thanksgiving. Food. Pies. Nom nom.

Standing in line getting some reading in!

  • Standing in line on Black Friday for the first time in my life, because a bookstore was having a special giveaway. Yes. This is the only thing that can tempt me to go shopping on such a day. Or… ever, in general. XD (Boooooks.) (Fortunately, the bookworm line was small and orderly and we had some lovely bookish chats.)
  • Spontaneously crocheting a pair of fingerless gloves instead of writing. They’ve been so handy!
  • Going for “like-a-quick-lady” walks and runs with my audiobook, and plot-walks with my sister. (Plot walks are magical and consist of talking out the problems in the plot so that I know what to write next.)

Found a cozy bench/garden to curl up with this book while at a fair. ❤

  • Sneaking in reading occasionally, like at a fair and in the car.
  • Some beta-reading and editing, which are of course the best jobs during an already bookish month. 😉
  • In fact, one of the things I beta-read during NaNo is coming out later this month! It’s an utterly charming retelling of The Bremen Town Musicians, called The Road to Bremen, and I adored it!

December Highlights

  • A post-NaNo celebration with cupcakes!

Otter!

  • A fun trip to the zoo with lovely writer friends!

  • Meeting up with some friends from Realm Makers and having a blast chatting over lunch!

  • Sending Christmas cards.
  • A few days of just relaxing and reading Diana Wynne Jones. I kind of needed that after all the crazy that was November.
  • Going to see Mortal Engines and Mary Poppins Returns with my siblings.
  • Peppermint shakes!

  • General quiet, cozy Christmas celebrations with family.

  • Curling up with Echo North and reading it in the cold near-end of the year! ❤

January Highlights

  • Ringing in the New Year watching some fireworks and seeing a shooting star.
  • Starting new journals! My favorite. 😀 Seriously, my writing journal and my bullet journal are super helpful and fun.
  • Some writers’ workshops.
  • Plot-walks with my sis.
  • Mail! Always makes my day. ❤

  • Started trying to make fingerless gloves again. XD
  • Working on some new habits and goals. I’m trying a new thing in my bullet-journal with a habit-tracker that I color in. It’s been fabulous so far!
  • Saw the Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse! It was super cold out but so worth it.

February Plans

Things I’d love to get done this month:

  • Quite a bit more blogging (my poor abandoned blogs!)
  • Read some review books and review them
  • Read other things Because Reasons
  • Finish writing The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (I KNOW. I can’t believe I’m not done yet but I still want to do this! *collapses*)
  • Also, How to Train Your Dragon 3 is coming out this month and I AM NOT EMOTIONALLY PREPARED FOR THIS. SEND HELP.

Loved this display at the theater when I saw Mary Poppins Returns


Whew! If you made it through this you deserve a cupcake.

In brief:

I made it through my 9th NaNo and I’m super pleased with how it turned out! And so glad I decided to go Rebel and work on trying to finish two WIPs. 😀 There were some rough spots and it was one of my busiest NaNos, but overall it went amazingly and was an awesome month.

December was a mix of busyness and lovely relaxing, and much hanging out with awesome people and Christmas coziness. January was generally quietly starting out the year, with a mix of slumps and bright moments.

And now we’re well into February and EXCUSE ME, Mr. Time, but who gave you permission to run away like this? Ahem. If you need me, I’ll just be over here wrapped in a shock blanket, wondering how we’re this far into 2019 already. 😛

What have you been up to lately? How has your year started off? And have you missed the Ishnesses and should I bring ’em back? Speak to me in the comments! Thanks for reading! ❤

Christmas Character Tag: Teague & Meridian & Co.

The awesome Sarah @ Dreams & Dragons tagged me for her original The Christmas Character Tag waaaay back when, and I didn’t get around to it at the time. But I figured, what better time to do it than now? 😉 Thanks so much for the tag, Sarah! ❤

I’m featuring the characters from my WIP The Other Half of Everything: Teague and Meridian, and Teague’s siblings (Ivan and Lulin). Because I’ve been focusing on my steampunk book and Tare lately, and these characters were feeling left out. 😉

And because I’ll take any excuse to let Teague and Meridian take over my blog. 😛 Though this time Ivan and Lulin are joining in the fun.

The first several answers are the characters answering the questions directly, and later it moves on to something more like impromptu scenes I wrote just for this post’s questions.

Consider it kind of like my little Christmas present just for you, my dear bloglings! 🙂

Enjoy!

Rules

1. Acknowledge the person who tagged you. Thanking them is nice, but not necessary. You can be annoyed at them if you like. (Though, if you’re annoyed, why are you doing the tag anyway?)
2. Pick your characters. I advise having several, though not too many. They can all be from the same story, or they can be from different stories. If they’re from different stories, make sure to specify who’s from the same story.
3. Answer the questions. This should be self-explanatory.
4. Tag people. If you want. Don’t tag more people than you have characters in the tag. If you don’t want to tag anyone, you can do that too.
5. Listen to your favorite Christmas song. Because putting the effort in to write a post deserves a reward, my friend!

About the Characters

For those joining us new or who need a quick refresher:

Teague Aurelius: 23. An extremely absentminded author of fantasy who lives in the top floor of a huge old house, where all his rooms are filled with books. May or may not travel to the worlds he writes about.

Meridian Brownley: 17. Narrator of the book The Other Half of Everything (and slightly unreliable, at that) that I’m writing. Housekeeper for Teague. Plays violin and cooks. Doesn’t care about reading. Can’t stand writers. Or fantasy. (Awkward.)

Ivan Aurelius: 21. Black sheep of the family. Doesn’t get along with Teague. Has spiky blond hair and wears black leather and spikes.

Lulin Aurelius: 19. Sometimes playful and seems younger. Other times seems far older than her age and is carrying a secret. Peace-maker between her brothers. Her hair is a white pixie-cut, because of course.

Onward to the…!

Questions

1. If any of your characters are from Earth: what are some of their Christmas traditions? If your characters aren’t from Earth: does their world have an equivalent to Christmas, and if so, how do they celebrate it?

Teague: What an interesting question. What if we do both?

Ivan: We haven’t done a lot with it here in awhile. And that’s… just fine with me. >.>

Lulin: Oh, stop pretending! Anyway, we used to do decorations and all the usual stuff. And in the other worlds there would sometimes be a sort of midwinter feast if we were there around that time — so that was nice. ^_^

Meridian: I usually bake. With Gran. But not really any traditions.

2. Which of your characters gets the most into Christmas? The least? Who gets annoyed at the commercialization, and who doesn’t care because it’s CHRISTMAS?

Lulin: CHRISTMASSSSS!!! *dances around and puts up garlands and gives everyone Christmas sweaters*

Meridian: Hmph. Commercialization. And… yeah. I’m not the hugest Christmas person. The only thing that’s the best about it is the baking.

Ivan: *folds arms and coolly pretends not to care* It’s okay. I guess. *surreptitiously steals cookies*

Teague: *reading* *bewildered* Christmas? What were we talking about? Are there books involved?

3. All the characters try to decorate a Christmas tree together. What happens?

Lulin: More tinsel!

Teague: We could build a tree out of books instead.

Ivan: Guess who can put the most ornaments on the fastest without breaking any.

Meridian: Everyone! Stop! I’m doing it. It has to be perfect.

Everyone: But you don’t care about Christmas!

Meridian: It still has to be perfect!

(Dear reader, we draw a veil over the remainder of this scene and leave you to imagine it, because the chaos is immeasurable.)

4. What’s each character’s favorite Christmas song?

Teague: Silent Night.

Meridian: Any of them that are pretty but played just instrumental so I can hear the melodies.

Teague: Oh. Yes. The musician. You would be like that, I suppose.

Meridian: *wrinkles her nose* At least I didn’t say “none of them.”

Lulin: Carol of the Bells! And Drummer Boy! And… All of them!

Ivan: Last Christmas.

Lulin: What??

Ivan: I’m kidding. I hate that one too. Jingle Bell Rock.

Lulin: DON’T YOU DARE.

Ivan: But with real rock.

Meridian: Why am I not surprised.

5. Can your characters agree on a Christmas movie to watch together? What happens if they try?

Lulin: Elf! Or It’s A Wonderful Life…

Meridian: I don’t really care. Maybe there’s some good cheesy Hallmark movies. Or… not.

Ivan: *groans* Spare us. I’ll be watching Die Hard.

Teague: *mildly* That’s not a Christmas movie.

Ivan: It is so!

Teague: I don’t see why anyone would watch a movie when they could be reading instead… *pulls out long list of Christmas books he intends to read*

The list unfurls and rolls across the floor. Everyone stares at it.

Meridian: Bye. I’ll be baking.

Lulin: *looks at Ivan* Muppet Christmas Carol?

Ivan: You wish.

Teague curls up on the couch to read.

Lulin turns on the Christmas Carol movie.

Ivan pretends he’s not watching but really is.

Delicious smells start wafting from the kitchen…

6. Your characters are going to a White Elephant Gift Exchange; what kind of gift does each one bring? (Or, because I had a different question here originally and forgot to change it before it started circulating, if you prefer you can answer: “Speaking of which, who cries at Christmas movies?”)

Meridian: I don’t care if the rules say not to bring food. I’m bringing stuff I bake. Or some music albums…

Lulin: Something pretty!

Ivan: What if yours goes to a guy?

Lulin: Honestly? I really don’t care. Something pretty.

Ivan: I’m not going so I’m definitely not giving anything.

Teague: There’s only one answer to this, as to most, questions: Books. Possibly one of the ones I wrote…

Ivan: *facepalms* Don’t inflict them with that.

Teague: *coolly* You already said you’re not going, so you don’t have a say in the matter.

(Alternate question “who cries at Christmas movies?” Everyone points at Lulin. She smiles weakly.)

7. What’s each character’s favorite Christmas treat?

Teague: I’m honestly not picky… But chocolate is probably the best, on general principles.

Lulin: Gingerbread! And peppermint hot cocoa.

Meridian: You’re honestly going to make me choose between foods?

Ivan: Candy-canes.

8. Who among your characters likes eggnog? Who thinks it’s disgusting?

Lulin: *wrinkles nose* Eggnog is weird.

Ivan: It’s awesome. Be quiet.

Teague: I haven’t the faintest idea how I feel about it. I’ve never noticed what it tastes like.

Meridian: How could you not notice? It’s gross!

Ivan: Fight me.

Meridian: I think I will.

Lulin: Um…

Teague: Children. Please.

Ivan: What did you just call me??

Lulin: *quickly* Who wants a candy-cane?

9. Who’s meeting who under the mistletoe? Who’s catching those people and teasing them about it forever?

Meridian eyes the mistletoe hanging in the doorway to the Teague’s living-room. “Who put that up there?”

Lulin’s innocent blue eyes stare out from her face framed in a white pixie-cut. “Nobody?”

Meridian grumbles under her breath something about plants belonging outdoors and returns a moment later lugging a ladder usually used to reach books. She pauses.

Teague leans in the doorway reading a book and apparently not paying attention to anyone.

Meridian sighs and leans it against a nearby bookcase. “Teague. Move,” she says. “I need to put a ladder there.”

“Mm?” Teague doesn’t look up.

Meridian waves a hand in his face.

Lulin walks casually behind her and “accidentally” knocks into her. Meridian crashes into Teague, who drops his book and catches her instead, looking down into her eyes.

“Oh, hello, Meridian,” he says with a smile. He looks up at the mistletoe above them and then back at her with laughter in his eyes that indicates he knew right where he was standing all along.

“No you didn’t — !” Meridian begins.

Ivan can be heard snickering around the corner and Lulin gives a peal of merry laughter.

“Fine,” Meridian relents. She pecks Teague’s cheek. “Merry Christmas. I guess.”

Somebody needs to stop being so mushy,” Ivan calls loudly.

“Oh, shut up,” Meridian says fiercely.

Teague smiles and leaves a kiss on her forehead, murmuring, “Merry Christmas, my Meri.”

10. Who makes all the Christmas cookies and other treats? Who eats all the Christmas cookies?

“I don’t trust anyone else to do the baking,” Meridian says firmly. “I’m doing all of it. Now shoo until I finish.”

“I can help,” Lulin protests mildly.

“You’re just covering for Ivan,” Meridian says, snagging his leather-clad wrist as he reaches toward the platter of cookies.

Ivan yelps. “I was just going to taste it!”

“You can taste it when I finish.” Meridian is remorseless and continues mixing batter.

Teague wanders through the kitchen with his face in a book, grabs a cup of tea and somehow drinks it without looking at it or spilling anything.

Meridian turns around from checking in the oven and sees an empty spot where a cookie had been a moment before. “Ivan!”

“It wasn’t me! So!”

“Then is there a cookie gremlin because something took it.”

Ivan points at Teague, who is retreating with his face still in a book and doesn’t appear to realize what’s going on around him.

Meridian looks to Lulin for confirmation, but she just blinks wide-eyed at her and won’t give up either of her brothers.

“He’s far too distracted to properly steal a cookie,” Meridian accuses, hands on hips.

“Mm?” Teague puts in as he disappears around the corner and calls back, “Delicious cookies, by the way. You’ve outdone yourself.”

Meridian blinks after him.

Ivan gives a told-you-so smirk, then sighs. “How come I can’t get away with stuff like that?”

Meridian gets a dangerous gleam in her eye and starts to follow Teague. “Who said anyone’s getting away with anything?”

Ivan snags a cookie from the plate and says through munches, “Teague being an unwitting accomplice is still the best thing ever.”

Lulin pulls more cookies out of the oven and smiles innocently. “Talking of best things ever, I’m going to enjoy watching Meridian go after you in a minute.”

Ivan gives her a shifty look and grabs another cookie. He slinks quickly out, to the accompaniment of Lulin’s chuckle and Meridian somewhere in the house going off loudly at Teague whose faint murmurs are difficult to hear.

11. Who stays (or used to stay) up late waiting for Santa?

Lulin and Ivan both point at Teague.

He blinks. “What? I didn’t.”

“You always stayed up all night Christmas Eve,” Ivan says.

“Reading,” Teague protests. “And I always do that. You just don’t want to admit that the two of you used to.”

“A lot of stranger things than Father Christmas are real,” Lulin says. “I’m only saying. What about you, Meridian?”

“Nope.” The answer was a little too quick to be strictly true.

“Grinch,” Ivan says haughtily.

“Speak for yourself!”

12. What would each character say Christmas isn’t Christmas without?

“Family,” Lulin says at once.

Teague hesitates, and doesn’t look at Ivan, but agrees. “Family.”

They look at Meridian.

She coughs. “I was going to say baking but now I sound like a shallow jerk.”

Lulin smiles. “Not at all.”

“I just don’t remember having a family. Other than Gran,” Meridian says.

“No siblings like these two terrors.” Lulin throws an arm each around her two brothers.

Ivan squirms and tries to escape the hug. “Candy-canes!” he says quickly, answering the question. “Aaugh. Leggo.”

Lulin just hangs on, laughing.

Teague smiles, one arm around his sister, and reaches out his other arm to pull Meridian into the group-hug. “Now you do,” he says softly.

And Meridian smiles back at him.

Thanks for reading! ^_^ I’m not tagging anyone but feel free to steal this for your blog if you like! Sorry I haven’t been around as much (I’m afraid NaNo more or less killed me and I’ve been recovering and busy. XD) — but I do have some fun posts planned after I finish relaxing this coming week. Merry Christmas! ❤

Bye, NaNo; Hi, Christmas (Coloring Christmas Devotions Review + Photos)

Oh hey, look, November’s over and I survived NaNoWriMo and can rest now.

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist…)

Speaking of which, while I am recuperating enough to get together some form of Ishness post about my Novemberness (look for it Monday!), here: have a review of a coloring book for Christmas, because we all need to relax right now. *ahem*

Coloring Christmas Devotions

by Thomas Nelson Publishing

  • Authors: Published by Thomas Nelson. Illustrations by Lizzie Preston, Claire McElfatrick, and Suzanne Khushi
  • Date read: November 29, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Christian Non-Fiction / Devotional / Adult Coloring Book
  • Age: Any
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 96 (paperback)
  • Source: Booklook Bloggers
  • Notes: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of writing my honest review; these opinions are my own.
  • Links — Find the book on: ZondervanAmazonGoodreads

This is a combination of a Christmas devotional and a coloring book, with nearly fifty pages of charming art to color (on the right-hand pages) and 31 pages of devotions (perfect for reading throughout December) alternating with 15 Bible verses (on the left-hand pages).

The devotional topics are varied, on a Christmas theme—some of them moving and relevant, while others weren’t as applicable to me (since I haven’t been in some of those situations or didn’t “get” some of the more modern references), but might be to others. Mostly it was tying in modern struggles with the rush of the holidays, with examples from scripture and a theme of slowing down and focusing on the real reason for the season, which was nice.

The lovely illustrations range from winter or wildlife scenes to nativity scenes, to Christmas associations like bells, candy canes, nutcrackers, ornaments and holly, etc., and some of lovely patterns too.

Being my first adult coloring book, this was a fascinating experience, and so fun! I may be slightly addicted to coloring now. 😉 I’ve heard its relaxing and enjoyable but I didn’t realize until I tried it myself!

I used pencils and colored pens—I think markers or crayons wouldn’t be thin enough since most of the illustrations have very narrow areas that would be a little tricky to color. My pens didn’t quite bleed through the page, but anything darker might.

It’s the perfect book to wind down with and relax in the evening, particularly (in my case) when I had just finished NaNoWriMo and was transitioning from a writing season to a Christmas one at the end of November. I turned on some Celtic Christmas music and curled up with this coloring book, discovering new and wintry delights. 🙂

Overall, it’s a very fun book, and I like the mix of thoughtful section to read (which I read all in a sitting) combined with lovely wintry/Christmas-y art. I can’t really compare it to other coloring books since I don’t have experience with them, but I loved this one! I would recommend it for fans of coloring and really any Christians who celebrate Christmas.

About the Book

Enjoy all the best parts of the Christmas season as you spend time reflecting on God’s greatest gift for His children: the birth of Jesus. This unique coloring book also includes devotions perfect for the season. Take a few minutes out of the busyness of Christmas to spend time in devotional thought, while relaxing through stress-free coloring.

With inspirational devotions on one side and a festive Christmas scene to color on the opposite page, Coloring Christmas Devotions will be a welcome part of your holiday celebrations. Take a few quiet moments to yourself to reflect on the reason behind the festivities as you read through the Scripture verses and devotions and color the pen-and-ink illustrations.

This coloring book is unique with a trim size that is easy to fit into a purse or bag, an embellished cover, perforated pages, and a low price point.

A beautiful gift or a fun treat for yourself, Coloring Christmas Devotions will help you focus your heart on the true meaning of Christmas.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

So, the big questions!

Did you survive NaNo? Are you ready for Christmas? And have you ever tried an adult coloring book? Because this was my first one, and now I’m curious about y’all! Thanks for reading! 🙂 I’ll be back soon with some NaNo-ish wrapup posts! ❤

Wintry Tag

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Sarah @ Light and Shadows had a wintry A Few of My Favorite Things Tag, and left it open for people to snag on their blogs… so I’m doing so (nearly a year later) because it’s December, and wintry/Christmas-y things are in the air. ^_^

1. Favorite “snuggle weather” books?

Books.

(…Okay, I sound like Tare when I answer like that.)

Um. I don’t really have any specific books I think of as good wintry reads. I guess I just read what I usually read?

I do like reading a short story called Wintermoon Wish by Sharon Shinn around this time of year… maybe I’ll do that again. Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas is a fun read for this time of year, as is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Lewis. But I haven’t been reading those.

I do seem to be in the mood for rereading Diana Wynne Jones books (Chrestomanci, in particular). But who am I kidding — I’m always in the mood for DWJ. 😉

OH! Do you know what would make a PERFECT wintry read?? (Or any other kind of read, TBH.) PAPER CROWNS BY MIRRIAM NEAL. It has the snow and ice, it has the awesome, it has the fantabulous characters, it has the snark… YES. I highly recommend getting yourself (or anyone else) a copy of this book for Christmas and snuggling up for a delightful read. ❤

2. Favorite winter/Christmassy snacks?

Candy canes, of course!

(Um. That was my inner Baz talking; pay no heed. >.> *COUGH*)

I don’t actually snack much, so I like any kind of snack, but around Christmas I’m partial to nuts and dried fruits (craaanberries, preciousss), chopped veggies, crackers/cheese/summer sausage, and of course cupcakes and chocolate. *nods*

3. Favorite hot drinks?

Hot chocolate and herbal teas like red raspberry leaf with honey. Yum. (I like coffee when I drink it, which is rarely. 😉 )

4. Favorite Christmas movies?

A Muppet Christmas Carol, hands down, every time. I love that movie. ❤ I even like it better than the book, and this movie is the classic version of the story for me. I tend to watch it most Christmasses.

5. Favorite holidays songs?

Carol of the Bells/Ring Christmas Bells, Silent Night, The Little Drummer Boy, Don Oiche Ud I mBeithil, O Come All Ye Faithful, A Breton Carol, Come O Come Emmanuel, 12 Days of Christmas, and the Snoopy and the Red Baron Christmas song.

6. Favorite “snow day” crafts?

By “snow day” I’m going to assume this means a cold day spent indoors. Since, you know, I don’t actually get snow here, or if I do I’m more likely to be out in it BECAUSE IT’S SO RARE, than staying inside because of it. XD Buuut… how about knitting or crocheting (if I actually have something in mind, which is rare), or more likely . . . reading. Yep. I don’t actually do much with crafts. Ahem.

7. Do you wanna build a snowman?

YES PLEASE.

How about you? Feeling in a wintry/Christmassy mood? Feel free to do the tag if you are! ^_^ Merry Christmas to everyone (and happy winter to those who aren’t into Christmas). May your hearts follow the star that led to the stable when the Light of the World was born there. 🙂 Have a blessed couple of weeks and I’ll see you again at the year’s turning! ❤