Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Let's Get Christmassy with... Lynne Milford

We’re getting festive here with some special peeps and today we get Christmassy with Lynne Milford

Hello Lynne

Please tell us a little about you and if you are a reader, Blogger or author.

I’m an author and a blogger, although the first is a very new addition. My debut crime novel A Deadly Rejection was self-published in October and it was a really special moment for me. I’ve been working on the book for so long that it was great to see it out there.
I also blog on writing at Tales from the Writing Desk.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

I’ve lived away from home for a long time and I would often be driving home on or around Christmas Eve. The song ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ was always very apt. So I’d be hurtling up the A1 desperately trying to get home as quickly as I could. In my home town the Rotary club collects money for charity with a Santa float, driving it round the streets past all the houses. One year I was pulling into the estate where my parents live when I spotted the Santa sleigh coming along the road. I just managed to get parked up outside the house before he came round the corner. My mam and dad got such a shock when I rushed in shouting ‘Santa’s here’. I think they thought I’d gone mad. He’s a big memory from when I was a child, so making it just in time to see him was great. Plus it was snowing!

What is your favourite Christmas food?

Mince pies, without a doubt, are the best bit of Christmas eating. I have a rule that I’m not allowed any until after 1st December though, because then it starts to feel like Christmas. I also love a turkey dinner so I try to have as many of them as possible. This year I think I’m on for five, including Christmas Day, which is probably a record!

What is your favourite Christmas song?

Last Christmas by Wham. As soon as I’ve heard that, then I know Christmas is on its way. I love the video as well. In terms of Christmas carols, I love Silent Night. It really demonstrates the real meaning of Christmas and provides an oasis of calm within the crazy Christmas preparations.

What is your favourite Christmas photo? Please tell us why

It’s not a picture of people in reindeer jumpers sadly. It’s a sculpture of the Wearmouth Bridge in Sunderland. I took this while I was out for a walk with my dad in Hetton Park, in my home town of Hetton-le-Hole near Durham. It’s clearly a bitterly cold day, but the light is just right for the picture. I’m not much of a photographer, but I’m very proud of how good it looks.

You can find Lynne at all these places…


Please come back tomorrow to find out what makes Jules Wake
 Christmas Christmassy

Monday, 11 December 2017

Let's Get Christmassy with ... Val Portelli (Voinks)

We’re getting festive here with some special peeps and today we get Christmassy with Val Portelli (Voinks)

Hello Val

Please tell us a little about you and if you are a reader, Blogger or author.

I’ve always been a reader, and loved writing, but only became a ‘proper’ author when a freak accident left me bed-bound and going stir-crazy. To save my sanity I wrote my first book, it was published and I was hooked. A Facebook author page followed at the insistence of my niece, then my second book was published. Another niece helped me set up my blog, and I found the confidence to self-publish my third book. In between working on several other novels, I also write and post weekly short stories on every imaginable subject, often inspired by social media.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

There are so many as I love Christmas, even if I’m a bit Bah Humbug when advertising starts before I get back from my summer holiday. All it takes to change my mood is to dig out the Christmas box of decorations, most as old as the hills. The singing Santa who doesn’t sing any more now takes his place on the blow-up Rudolph’s back as they ride across the front-room window. The knitted Christmas tree I bought in La Gomera belongs at the foot of the bannisters, the red Santa boots, and the red and green stockings accompany you in decreasing sizes as you mount the stairs. It takes ages to put up the rest as each evokes memories from when they first became part of the tradition. Throw them away? You must be kidding.

What is your favourite Christmas food?

Turkey, stuffing, dates and figs, Christmas pudding, mince pies, satsumas, I love them all. I’ll even eat spouts although they’re not my favourite. Does sherry count? I’d never think of having it at any other time of the year, but somehow it seems appropriate. My Mother was never a drinker, but one Christmas was worrying over the lunch being ready on time. She accepted a sherry, I topped it up when she wasn’t looking, then found my sister was doing the same. Lunch was late but she stopped worrying, even if she was a bit giggly.

What is your favourite Christmas song?

I love the traditional old Carols. O little town of Bethlehem, In the bleak midwinter, Silent Night, White Christmas, Little drummer boy and many others all have their place. It starts to feel like Christmas the first time I hear ‘A spaceman came travelling’ but it’s not really Christmas until Noddy Holder shouts ‘It’s Christmas!’
Now I’m giving my age away.

What is your favourite Christmas photo? Please tell us why

Most of my favourite old photos are still sitting in boxes waiting to be transferred to my computer, but this one (courtesy of Pixabay) always sums up the spirit of Christmas to me. (It’s also my way of trying to get on Santa’s good girl list.)

Thank you for inviting me Pauline, it’s been lovely reviving Christmas memories.
I’d like to wish you and all your readers a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year. May Santa be good to you, and fulfil all your dreams

You can find Val at all of these...

Spirit of Technology

ABC Destiny



Facebook author page


Please come back tomorrow to find out what makes Lynne Milford Christmas Christmassy

A Diamond Tale that has a Little Sparkle!

Today, 11th December, I am joining this fabulous Christmas Blog, Diamond Tales, and like all the stories in this Festive Feast, it mentions diamonds! My wonderful character, Doreen Wilkinson, from Sometimes It Happens… tells a heart-warming story about life before winning the lottery, so if you want to know how diamonds feature in this short story than please pop along and say hello to a lovely lady, Doreen.

You can also discover more beautiful Diamond Tales from these wonderful authors…

3rd December                Richard Tearle Diamonds

4th December    Helen Hollick  When ex-lovershave their uses

5th December     Antoine Vanner  Britannia’sDiamonds

6th December     Nicky Galliers  Diamond Windows

7th December     Denise Barnes  The Lost Diamond

8th December     Elizabeth Jane Corbett A Soul Above Diamonds

9th December     Lucienne Boyce Murder In Silks

10th December   Julia Brannan The Curious Case of the Disappearing Diamond

11th December    Pauline Barclay Sometimes It Happens

12th December    Annie Whitehead   Hearts, Home and a Precious Stone

13th December    Inge H. Borg  Edward, Con Extraordinaire

14th December    J.G. Harlond The Empress Emerald

15th December    Charlene Newcomb Diamonds in the Desert

16th December     Susan Grossey  A Suitable  Gift

17th December     Alison  Morton Three Thousand Years to Saturnalia

18th December      Nancy Jardine   Illicit Familial Diamonds

19th December      Elizabeth St John The Stolen Diamonds

20th December      Barbara Gaskell Denvil Discovering the Diamond

21st December       Anna Belfrage   Diamonds in the Mud

22nd December       Cryssa Bazos    The Diamonds of Sint-Nicholaas

23rd December        Diamonds … In Sound & Song

Wishing you a diamond run up to the festive season!
Pauline x

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Let's Get Christmassy with... Vivien Brown

We’re getting festive here with some special peeps and today we get Christmassy with Vivien Brown

Hello Vivien

Please tell us a little about you and if you are a reader, Blogger or author.

I am primarily an author although I am an avid reader too, particularly of women’s fiction in its broadest sense – anything from romance to sagas to psychological thrillers with female protagonists. I have been writing short stories for women’s magazines for around twenty years (under another name). In fact, the first I ever sold was a Christmas story to Woman’s Weekly, about a family feud that gets resolved on Christmas morning, with the help of a department store Santa! These days I still write occasional short stories but prefer to concentrate on novels. My debut ‘Lily Alone’, a domestic drama about a very young child left alone at home, was published by Harper Impulse in October. Away from writing, I love cryptic crosswords, boyband concerts, horseracing, TV soaps and quiz shows.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

I think waking up, as a small child, to feel that fat present-stuffed pillow case against my feet on Christmas morning, is very hard to beat. Still believing in Santa, still feeling the magic and wonder of Christmas Day, climbing out of bed while it was still dark and not noticing or caring that the bedroom was really chilly, with the windows all iced up on the inside! And then my sister and I lugging our pillow cases into our parents’ room and opening everything all over the bed. In those days, presents were not expensive, not technology-based, and didn’t get picked from the Argos catalogue or online. There was always a tangerine at the bottom, and usually a book or an annual from whatever TV show or character was popular at the time, although I could never abide Rupert - and still can’t! I like to try keeping the old traditions going as much as possible although, for my little granddaughter Penny, the pillow case has  been upgraded to a giant knitted stocking these days - seen here laid out on Christmas Eve, ready for Santa’s arrival.

What is your favourite Christmas food?

My absolute favourite food is chocolate, but I eat that all year round so I don’t suppose it really counts as a Christmas food, even though there is even more of it about at this time of year. This picture is from a day I spent learning how to temper chocolate and make my own truffles at the Chocolate Hotel in Bournemouth. But I would have to say my fave seasonal food is the humble mince pie, which I rarely have at any other time but Christmas, but I do like my own home-made ones so much more than shop-bought. I love rolling out the pastry, adding big dollops of mincemeat and finishing off with a Christmas shape on top – I have pastry cutters in the shape of a bell, heart, star and Christmas tree, as well as random rabbits, butterflies, doves, etc. I like to sprinkle them liberally with caster sugar while they are still warm – and that’s the best time to eat them too!

What is your favourite Christmas song?

I enjoy a rousing chorus or two of Jingle Bells, but when it comes to songs that really relate to the nativity story, I am a sucker for the sentimentality of Little Donkey, especially when hearing it sung by tiny school children at school carol concerts. I helped my daughter to knit all the people and animals for a nativity scene a couple of years ago and we were shocked that the pattern did not include a donkey. To us, he is a very important part of story, so we made up our own pattern for him to make sure the scene was complete.

What is your favourite Christmas photo? Please tell us why

I love my cats and still miss those who are no longer with us. They are just as much a part of the family as the humans are, and I like to make sure they get something special to eat at Christmas, and a new squeaky or flashing toy to try to distract them from pulling baubles off the tree. This picture is of my old cat Buster who never minded being dressed up in his special Christmas Day collar, which in reality was my daughter’s red hair scrunchie!

You can find Vivien at all these places …

Please come back tomorrow to find out what makes Val Portelli Christmas Christmassy

Friday, 8 December 2017

Let's Get Christmassy with... Liz Taylorson

We’re getting festive here with some special peeps and today we get Christmassy with
  Liz Taylorson

Hello Liz

Please tell us a little about you and if you are a reader, Blogger or author.

I’m a debut author, my first novel The Little Church by the Sea is a Christmas-set romantic women’s fiction novel and has just been published. Of course, I’m a reader too and Christmas novels have a special place in my heart – which is why I wrote one!

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

I remember one frosty Christmas Eve as a child walking home from church by the light of my Christingle candle (this was in the 1970s not the 1870s I should point out, though my children may attempt to convince you otherwise …) and seeing what my Mum told me was the Christmas star shining brightly above us in the sky. Magical. And then only a couple of years ago walking the same path on Christmas Eve with my husband and children, seeing a shooting star and remembering how I had watched the stars there with my own parents forty years before.

And then there was the year I cooked my first Christmas dinner and I let the sprout pan boil dry … I’ll never forget that smell!

What is your favourite Christmas food?

Not sprouts [shudder!].

Cinnamon toast is my favourite, another special childhood memory. I must have been about 11 or 12 and I remember my parents taking me to Nunnington Hall, a National Trust property, for an afternoon of carols with hot chocolate and cinnamon toast in front of a blazing fire. You can keep your mince pies and Christmas pudding – nothing tastes like Christmas as much as cinnamon toast does. As soon as December arrives I’m warming up the grill!

What is your favourite Christmas song?
Sweet Chiming Bells. It’s one of the traditional Sheffield Carols, the verses have the same words as the carol While Shepherds watched, but it has a cracking chorus to join in with (“Sweet bells, sweet chiming Christmas bells … they cheer us on our heavenly way, sweet chiming bells”.) If you’ve never heard it, I would recommend Kate Rusby’s version (on her album Sweet Bells). It appears in my novel too, it’s sung in the pub with mulled wine and mince pies, as all the best Christmas songs should be.

What is your favourite Christmas photo? Please tell us why

Well, I’ve got lots of lovely pictures of my children when they were little opening and playing with Christmas presents … but they didn’t want me to share them. It makes them cringe, apparently. So I’m going with a photograph that my sister-in-law Angela Harrison took, which is part of the ideal Christmas in my imagination. It’s taken at Robin Hood’s Bay a seaside village in Yorkshire not entirely unlike the one where The Little Church by the Sea is set. Robin Hood’s Bay has an annual Victorian Christmas festival, and this little cottage, beautifully but simply decorated for Christmas, is just like the one lived in by my heroine, Cass.

You can Liz at all these places...
Twitter: @taylorson_liz
Facebook: @TaylorsonLiz

Please come back tomorrow to find out what makes Vivien Hampshire Christmas Christmassy

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Let's Get Christmassy with Paula Harmon

We’re getting festive here with some special peeps and today we get Christmassy with 

Paula Harmon

Hello Paula

Please tell us a little about you and if you are a reader, Blogger or author.

Thank you for welcoming me. I am an author of three books and have a website on which I post pieces of writing. I was born in north London but prefer my life as a country girl, which began at eighteen months when my family moved to Bedfordshire and then trailed slowly westwards from small town to village before settling in South Wales when I was eight. At eighteen, I one to university in West Sussex before settling in Gloucestershire and then, when my children were small, moving south again. I have lived in Dorset for twelve years, which is the second longest I’ve lived anywhere. It means I feel a little rootless and a bit of an observer, but on the other hand, at least I’m not afraid of change! I work full-time so I have to write when I can find time. My job involves a fair amount of travel and trains consequently turn up in a lot of my writing. I’m married with two teenage children. I’m constantly battling to keep on top of things at home, but on the other hand, writing and reading are more interesting that housework. My failures at keeping house feature in my sillier short pieces too, mainly as a battle between a bad housewife and the laundry fairies. You’ll have to read them to find out who wins.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

Every year, until I was about twelve, we had Christmas dinner at my great-aunt and great-uncle’s house in Berkshire. The extended family was there and I think one year there must have been twenty of us round a selection of tables in the hall which was the biggest space in this old farmhouse. Including myself, my sister and our second cousins-once-removed, there were seven children. We were surrounded by a selection of parents, grandparents, one great-uncle and a few great-aunts (of varying degrees of scariness). Dinner was the main event and beautifully cooked by great-aunt H and her daughter who is technically a second cousin, but I always call her Aunt A. I have some lovely photographs of us crammed round the tables, which I naturally can’t find at the moment. Afterwards, the children were expected to perform by singing carols or anything else we could come up with and then we all played parlour games, like charades and so on. It was all rather old-fashioned but so warm and happy. I don’t actually remember any present giving, because it was rather less important than all the delicious food and the general running about with the others.

What is your favourite Christmas food?

Mmm, tricky. I think it would have to be turkey because we only have it at Christmas, but it needs all the trimmings too. My dad, for reasons best known to himself, always made zabaglione at Christmas and we ate it with our Christmas pudding - which is my second favourite thing. I haven’t made it myself, perhaps I should do it this year!

What is your favourite Christmas song?

Oh again, it’s so hard to choose. ‘Little Drummer Boy’ reminds me of my first nativity play at school and I’ve always loved its message: what’s in your heart is more important than what’s in your wallet. Of more modern songs, ‘Fairytale of New York’ has a wonderful poignancy, which conjures up dreams freezing in the snow. I always want to think the ‘characters’ in the song managed to find a happy ending somehow. As a child, my sister and I used to go carol singing with friends and our favourite was ‘Angels from the Realms of Glory’ because we used to compete to see if we could make it through to the end of Gloooooooooria without taking a breath while waiting for the householders to open the door and give us sweets or preferably money.

What is your favourite Christmas photo? Please tell us why

I have a lovely one of my children aged about two and three cuddled up with Father Christmas. They a little perplexed, because there seemed to be a tiny chance that Father Christmas was actually Grandad in disguise but they were so excited anyway, that the presents he brought weren’t really too important. However, I’ve picked a photo which I found in a jewellery box one of my great-aunts left me. There weren’t any jewels unfortunately, but there were some photographs including ones of this family Christmases. Seeing us all frozen in time brought back such memories. The photograph is of me (on the left) and my sister in the Christmas dresses my mother had made us.

Thank you so much for asking me to take part.

You can find Paula at all of these…

My website is www.paulaharmondownes.wordpress.com - this has writing both serious and humorous and links to my books which also combine humour and seriousness.
My twitter account is @paula_1964

My instagram account is https://www.instagram.com/paulaharmondownes/

Please come back tomorrow to find out what makes Liz Taylorson Christmas Christmassy

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Let's Get Christmassy with Terri Nixon...

We’re getting festive here with some special peeps and today we get Christmassy with 

Terri Nixon

Hello Terri

Please tell us a little about you and if you are a reader, Blogger or author.

Hello, and thank you for having me on your wonderful Christmassy blog! I’m a keen reader, and also an author of the hybrid variety, publishing Historical sagas with Little Brown and HarperCollins, and self-publishing Mythic Fantasy. I have a new book out on December 7th - the second book in The Penhaligon Saga: Penhaligon’s Pride.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

So, so many! I suppose, growing up in a little village near Bodmin Moor it would be the walk home, in the snow, from midnight mass on Christmas Eve; we weren’t super-religious, but my brother was an altar-boy, and I was in the choir, and it was a real village community event. Didn’t hurt that we were allowed a mince pie and a glass of hot Stones ginger wine when we got home!

What is your favourite Christmas food?

I’m something of a fiend for the savoury snacks, so it’s the tubs of Cheese Footballs, the Christmas tree-shaped pretzels, and the miniature sausage rolls. Also the humble Terry’s Chocolate Orange (“it’s not Terry’s, it’s…” oh, wait.)

What is your favourite Christmas song?

Hands down, no contest, it’s Jethro Tull’s Ring Out Solstice Bells. Just the opening few bars give me shivers, and make me feel that warm, happy festive vibe. I’m smiling just typing this!

What is your favourite Christmas photo? Please tell us why

This picture sums up Christmas for me; it’s from when my youngest son flaked out in my bed after all the excitement of the day – he’s eighteen this Christmas!

You can find Terri at all these places too... 

Website: www.terrinixon.com

Please come back tomorrow to find out what makes Paula Harmon Christmas Christmassy