The no-holiday blog

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Monday musings

By DelSheree Gladden

About two weeks before Christmas, my family and I start a holiday movie countdown of all our favorites. The Muppets Christmas Carol and A Christmas Story are always saved for last. The Nightmare Before Christmas, Elf, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation are mixed in along the way. Occasionally I get them to watch the old Claymation Christmas movies I grew up on, even though my kids think they’re a little weird and borderline creepy.

Despite my love of Christmas stories, I tend to avoid writing holidays into my books and have never actually written a completely holiday themed book. The closest I’ve ever come were two stories I wrote for holiday-themed box sets. One was a Valentine’s Day themed novella turned full length sweet romance called The Crazy Girl’s Handbook, where poor Greenly gets tricked by her sister into meeting up with the blind date she’d backed out on while babysitting her two nephews and ends up mortified and sporting a headwound. The other book is The Oblivious Girl’s Handbook, a story of a girl whose life falls apart right before Christmas when her boyfriend, who’s been running her life for the last few years, walks out and leaves her completely lost and with a cat that won’t stop attacking her.

The full-length versions of each book really don’t focus on the holiday, and were just a springboard for the story. The holidays in both are, as you probably gathered, rather disastrous and not all what you’d typically except from a holiday story.

Thinking about these two made me wonder why I’ve always shied away from holiday-themed writing. I think it’s partly because holiday-themed books seem so limited. How many people really read Christmas romances in April or Halloween thrillers in August? Logically, I know this shouldn’t limit me, because a good story is a good story, no matter what time of year, but I hesitate to write something I think readers might look at and think, “I’ll wait until December to start that one,” and then forget about it.

Another reason I think I’ve largely avoided writing holiday books is that holidays are stressful! I always struggle to find the right gifts, find time or energy to decorate, plan events, force myself to go to parties, or get involved in cheesy games or gift exchanges. Writing about all of that makes me cringe. That’s probably why my two Handbook Series books center around such messy holidays!

The last reason I don’t write holiday books is because there’s an inherent timeline involved, and I’m not in a writing place that works well with deadlines at the moment. Having to finish something by a particular date makes me anxious, and then the words seem to bottle up, and then I get more anxious that I’m not going to finish in time. It’s an unpleasant cycle.

So, hats off to all those who write holiday-themed stories without losing their minds. I doubt I will ever be one of them, but I will forever enjoy reading and watching them.

DelSheree Gladden

DelSheree Gladden

was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read.

Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.

Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by.

When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at

And find her on social media

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Greetings on the Eve before Christmas

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Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash

Samreen Ahsan

‘Tis’ the season to be reading … wishing you joyful holidays with your friends and family.

May you read lots of books and may you have a wonderful new year!

Raine Thomas

Wishing everyone an incredible holiday season full of love, family, and great books!

Dawn Torrens

Wishing you all health and happiness for the 2020 from my family to yours.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Seb Kirby

Wishing everyone a great holiday season and a peaceful New Year!

Scott Bury

Best wishes for the holiday season, whichever holiday you celebrate.

I hope you all have a healthy and happy 2020, with plenty of opportunity for reading great books and discovering new and exciting authors.

Alan McDermott

Wishing you all wonderful holidays and a peaceful and prosperous New Year!

Mary Doyle

This is the time of year when I review everything I’ve read and listened to throughout the year.

It’s so much fun to walk down that memory lane and recall the joy great storytelling has made in my life. Then, I give bookstore gift cards in the hopes friends and family will find the same kind of joy in words I have.

Happy Holidays and good reading in 2020!

Toby Neal

May you be blessed in 2020 with good health, happiness, and an abundance of great reading!

Gae-Lynn Woods

Here’s to a blessed, peaceful and book-filled holiday season!

May you find many great reads in 2020!

Janet Oakley

Christmas time has always meant writing Christmas “poetry” on the name tags for each gift. Sometimes limericks, these were clues to the gift inside.

I hope that all our readers have a wonderful holiday sharing the warmth of this time with friends and family.

Corinne O’Flynn

Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2020. Here’s to health, peace, and lots of wonderful new reads to fill the new year!

David C. Cassidy

At this special time of year, may your friends and family be blessed with health and happiness.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and have a wonderful and prosperous New Year.

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An author’s Christmas

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How do writers spend their Christmas? Bestseller D.G. Torrens opts for an adventure in 2019.

Algarve, Portugal. Image by LauraRinke from Pixabay

How do writers spend their Christmas holidays you may ask? Well, this writer is taking my 10-year-old daughter to Portugal for a week. We are ditching the traditional Christmas lunch and opting for an adventure. Christmas day will be spent snorkeling, scuba diving and jet-skiing in the beautiful Algarve, followed by an organised barbeque on a private beach accompanied by live music. Not your typical Christmas day, but one that I am very much looking forward too.

My faithful laptop will be travelling with me and when my daughter is tucked up in bed at the end of the evening, I shall sit on the patio with a glass of wine and type away until the early hours of the morning — heavenly!

I must confess that I never travel anywhere without my laptop. Inspiration can strike at any time and I need to be ready. I find travelling around the world and immersing myself in new adventures greatly improves my writing. Travelling often provides me with new and exciting material. For example, the first time that I spent Christmas in India, a new story emerged. One year later, my novel, Forbidden was published.

Don’t get me wrong though; I love a traditional Christmas. However, after years of spending Christmas day preparing a sumptuous feast for the masses and running around like a headless chicken, I decided that I needed a break from it. The last three years, I have opted to go abroad and I needed to really feel like I was on holiday rather than in the kitchen and feeling exhausted by Boxing Day.

I made a promise to my daughter when she was very young that I would take her all over the world and show her as many countries as I could and when time allowed us. We still have many countries to visit, however, we are working our way through a long list!

There is something extra special about travelling around Christmas time: people are in high spirits, there is a magical feel in the air and strangers appear friendlier.

I write my best work during the winter months. I am not sure why that is — I just do. Maybe it’s because the winter months for me personally, represents a romantic feel. Autumn and winter are also my favourite seasons of the year.

I would like to wish all of our readers at Bestselling Reads a wonderful Christmas and prosperous New Year from my family to yours. Merry Christmas.

D.G. Torrens

Dawn Torrens 2019

is the author of 14 books, including the bestselling trilogy, Amelia’s Story #1, Amelia’s Destiny #2 and Amelia The Mother #3. This is an emotion-charged true story that the author wrote for her daughter.

D.G is a mother/writer/blogger who has a dream to inspire as many people as possible through her story. To show those with little hope that dreams can come true.

Born in England, passionate about writing, D.G. Torrens is married with a daughter. Her first book, Amelia’s Story, has inspired people all over the world. Amelia’s Destiny, book #2 is the sequel and is followed by Amelia The Mother book #3 in this awe-inspiring trilogy. A memoir that remains with D.G.’s readers long after they have put the book down …

D.G is a prolific writer and in 2013, her works were recognized by BBC Radio WM, where she has given several live interviews in the BBC studios in Birmingham, UK. Thereafter, D.G. became a regular Headline Reviewer for the radio show for the next 12 months.

Visit her on:

And follow her on Twitter @torrenstp.

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The importance of holiday traditions

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A seasonal Monday musing

by Raine Thomas

My love of the holidays started in my childhood. As busy as my mom was while working full time and running our household of six, she always managed to find the time to dig out the holiday decorations from their storage boxes in the garage and get them up so we could all enjoy them. For many years, we had the same disheveled artificial Christmas tree that she decorated with so many strands of lights you got a little shock if you pulled the plug the wrong way. That sad tree is a memory invoking notes of A Charlie Brown Christmas, another tradition in our household.

I also remember spending days in the kitchen with my mom. She had a variety of cookie recipes she made every year. Magic cookie bars, thumbprint cookies, butter balls, lemon squares, and iced sugar cookies were at the top of her list. She’d make enough cookies to put into pretty tins to give our teachers, our neighbors, the mailperson, the garbage collectors, and anyone else she wanted to recognize. Everyone loved them! It helped me and my brothers learn that gifts don’t always have to cost a lot of money to be appreciated. In fact, those gifts requiring time and thoughtfulness are usually among the most beloved!

When I got older, some of my best holiday memories involved going with my mom from store to store looking for bargains on gifts and new decorations to add to our individual households. We would stop for breakfast at the local diner (boy, do I miss their biscuits and gravy!), then venture around the malls and shops of south Atlanta. Once all the shopping was done, we set a day to get together, indulge in some alcoholic holiday cheer, and spend hours wrapping presents together while watching one Christmas movie or another.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

My mom passed away earlier this year. I can’t help but think about all of those traditions now as we venture into our first Christmas without her. My 13-year-old daughter was very close with her grandma, so I know memories of our many Christmases with mom are also at the forefront of her mind.

I’ve come to realize just how important those many holiday traditions were. They weren’t just “traditions.” They were memories in the making. They were moments that we can revisit now and feel joy when otherwise we might be mournful.

Rather than focus on our loss, we’ve decided to focus on happy traditions…those traditions I had with my mom and those we’re creating ourselves. We’ll be making fresh gingerbread cookies and decorating them together. We’re hunting for Christmas movies my daughter hasn’t seen and spending time watching them. We’re playing the Christmas carols we all love every chance we get, and we’ll read the poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore on Christmas Eve.

This time of year invokes a lot of nostalgia, especially in light of my mother’s passing. I’ve been taking time to write about my thoughts and feelings in hopes I can infuse them into a future story, as all life experiences should guide us authors. For now, though, I’ve got cookies to bake…and more importantly, memories to make.

Raine Thomas

Raine Thomas, new adult, young adult and romance

is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen.

Raine is a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Get to know more about Raine on

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Christmas in paradise: Palm Trees & Snowflakes

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The holiday shopping season is officially on. From now till the end of the year, Teaser Thursday will feature holiday-themed books and novellas for your holiday entertainment.

A Hawaiian holiday season teaser

By Scott Bury

When she opened her apartment door, her reflection in the hall mirror shocked her. Her shoulder-length, light brown hair was tangled from the night’s activity and frizzy from Hawaii’s humidity. Her large green eyes were dark with fatigue, with semi-circular shadows under them. Blood smeared the sleeve of her overpriced jogging jacket. The little bump on her nose still frustrated her, as it did every time she looked in a mirror.

Her black-and-white cat wound around her ankles, making “Brrr-rp” sounds. She bent to pat him. “Hello, Tux. Did you miss me?”

Photo by Mel Gardner on Unsplash

Tux purred in answer. She carried him into the kitchen, where she saw her answering machine flashing. After filling Tux’s bowl, she hit the button. Her mother’s attenuated voice came out. “Hello, Honey. I was hoping it wasn’t too early when I called. I can never remember what the time difference is over there.” Vanessa could hear her father in the background, explaining it. Her eyes went to the photo of her parents that hung on her kitchen wall, taken on their thirtieth anniversary. A pang of guilt shot through her. “Oh dear, you’re probably asleep right now. Okay, I’ll just remind you to let us know when you’re arriving so we can pick you up at the airport. You know what the roads can be like at Christmastime. Call us. Love you.”

Vanessa did not have the energy to disappoint her mother by telling her she did not know whether she could come home to Vermont for the holidays. As she kicked off her running shoes, her mobile phone chimed. She looked at the screen and thought I’m even more tired than I thought.

No, her eyes weren’t playing tricks on her. Perry Boyd. I’m coming to Hawaii tomorrow. Wd lv 2 C U.

She hadn’t seen Perry for over two years, hadn’t even spoken to him or exchanged emails. Now he wanted to come all the way to Hawaii from Vermont, just to meet her?

Vanessa always found Alan King’s sad disappointment harder to take than the tough dressing-down her previous commanding officer had preferred. Sitting across his desk from King, she had to think about not fidgeting. She glanced at Alan Terakawa beside her, then focused on King’s receding hairline.

After two hours of sleep, Vanessa had returned to the FBI office dressed according to the Bureau dress code, plus a little added Vanessa Storm flair: grey linen pants, a silk blouse under a stylish cotton jacket that concealed her shoulder-holster yet didn’t get too hot in the tropical climate. Her moderate heels brought her almost to her partner’s height.

Terakawa was dressed, as always, in FBI standard dark suit, white shirt and perfectly knotted tie.

“How did this go so wrong?” King asked, his eyes filled with pain. “A body in the morgue, two people in the hospital with gunshot wounds, one of them a law enforcement officer. I have to make an official statement to the media. Of course, after a detailed report to Washington. So tell me everything you can. First, though …” King focused first on Terakawa until he shifted in his seat. Vanessa saw sweat on his brow. Then the SAIC turned to Vanessa. Time telescoped. Her mouth went dry. “Are you two all right?”

“We’re fine,” Vanessa stressed. “I’m anxious to question the suspect.”

King sat back in his chair. “What do we know about the snowflake case?”

“Not much more than before. We got a tip from an informant that a new shipment was coming in on 9 Pier, but they didn’t know which container. The pills we found were concealed in children’s toys that came from Shanghai via Manila. Which is baffling. Previous shipments of snowflake have come from other ports, including Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur. One came in a container from Seoul. The methods for smuggling are different every time, too. While this shipment was in a child’s toy, others have been in flat-screen TVs, tires, cutlery, you name it.”

“Maybe you can find some answers in Ferreira’s computer,” King said. “Thank you. That’s all for now.”

Alan left, but Vanessa waited for a moment. “There’s one more thing.” She took a deep breath. “I’d like to request some vacation time to visit my parents in Vermont at Christmas.”

Photo by Alasdair Elmes on Unsplash

King’s cheeks puffed out as he sighed. “Normally, I’d say no problem. But we’re up to our elbows with this flood of new drugs, plus we’re short-staffed .”

“I appreciate that, sir. But things slow down during the holidays, even for the FBI. I have more than a week of holidays coming to me. This would be the first year I’ll have been away from my parents for Christmas. I’m an only child—”

King’s tone changed. His posture straightened. “I can appreciate that, Special Agent Storm. But I need you to understand how critical the snowflake case is. It’s the newest designer drug, and it’s sweeping the mainland. There have been six snowflake-related deaths among teenagers in the past two months, and Washington has made it a priority. Our best intelligence shows Honolulu as its first point of entry into U.S. territory. I’m sorry, but we need you here.”

Son of a bitch. “All right. How about this—if I can make a breakthrough and an arrest in the snowflake case by the twenty-third, I can take a week off at Christmas.”

A tiny smile broke King’s command façade. “Okay, Vanessa. If you can make a significant arrest by the twenty-third, you can take time off. Consider it a reward for a job well done.”

Now you’ve done it, Storm.

Palm Trees & Snowflakes

In Honolulu, where the palm trees are strung with lights for the holidays, FBI Special Agents Vanessa Storm and Alan Terakawa have their hands full trying to stop the deadly flow of snowflake, the newest designer drug. Faulty intel brings the agents into a deadly firefight, which yields even more puzzles. Time is running out to stop this lethal flood.

Available exclusively in Kindle e-book format from Amazon.

Scott Bury

It turns out a farmers’ market is not the best place to sell books. Who knew?

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has several mysteries and thrillers, including Torn RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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Monday Musings: My Bright Idea—Stocking Stuffers

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by Kathleen Valentine

Back in October I had this sudden realization that the holidays were fast approaching. This is nothing new for me—I tend to spend most holiday seasons in total denial and look forward with unbelievable longing for December 26th. It’s not really that I am terribly Scroogy, it’s just that, like many writers, I resent demands on my time when I’d rather be writing. We are selfish people.

2014 was not the best year I’ve ever had. I took on too many projects that turned into long, drawn-out, complex ones that ate up far too much of my time. I hope I learned from that and will know better in the future. So, as I contemplated the coming holiday season and idea came to me. Like every writer, what I longed to do was annoy the heck out of all my friends by continuously reminding them that books make excellent gifts—especially my books, but I know that is bad form. And then I had this bright idea—what would happen if I made a book specifically designed to be a “stocking stuffer” and priced it low enough that people would actually buy it? This would mean I wouldn’t make a profit on it, but it would be a good way to get my work out there in a cheery, holiday way.

I have a few series of books one of which is called Secrets of Marienstadt. All the tales in this series are loosely based in legends and folklore from the Pennsylvania Dutch community I grew up in. In 2011 I released the first Marienstadt story, The Reluctant Belsnickel of Opelt’s Wood, based on the custom of Belsnickel practiced in my hometown. In 2012, I published another Marienstadt story, a novel, called The Christmas Daughter, about a big, tough biker guy who suddenly finds himself the father of a shy, fragile, and vulnerable little girl. Recently I wrote another Marienstadt story called Treeing, which I was saving for a possible future collection. Since all three stories have a Christmas theme, I thought about combining them in one volume. I called it A Very Marienstadt Christmas and it would only be available in paperback—not digital, simply because the purpose is to encourage people to give it as a gift. Would it be a good idea? It was worth a try.

As I startedAVMCpromo2 the design of the book I had another brain-storm. Throughout the Marienstadt stories, much of the action takes place in Lola’s Strudel Shop and descriptions of the delicious pastries Lola serves are often remarked on by readers. What, I thought, would happen if I “spoke” to Lola and requeste that she write a chapter for the book telling about strudel and her recipes. It seemed like a good idea.

By the end of November the paperback was ready and I uploaded it to CreateSpace. Within days it had sold enough copies to make me feel encouraged that this was a worthwhile effort. Plus, I bought a couple cartons of them myself to give as my Christmas gifts.

I don’t know how long I will keep the book available but I think at some point I will withdraw it from distribution—it remains to be seen. And it also remains to be seen what, if anything might come of it. But one thing being an indie writer has taught me is that we can be as creative as we like and that is half the fun. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Belsnickel, etc. I’ll keep you posted.

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