Confessions of a Closet Fanfiction Writer

“Please, please, can we have a Sega Genesis?” my brother wheedled. “I’ll buy it with my birthday money!”

Our parents hemmed and hawed. This was the 1990s. Focus on the Family had been cranking out anti-videogame propaganda for years–anything from it ruining a kid’s grades to being a gateway to porn. But finally they said that we could buy a Genesis on one condition: the approve the games we bought.

The light was green! We bought our first video game system (and every single system after that). We played Sonic the Hedgehog and Jurassic Park and the maddeningly difficult Disney games. Batman Forever became a fixture.

Then–horrors–one hot summer day, our parents decreed that we spent too much time on games. “One hour a day,” they admonished. “Go do something else.”

Mutinous, I stalked upstairs to my desk. As a homeschooler, I had a very nice desk where I did my school and drew pictures. I busted out a binder, filled it with loose-leaf notebook paper, and began writing a story that mixed my two loves at the time: Sonic the Hedgehog and Jurassic Park.

Fan fiction had entered my life.

It was years before I even knew the term fanfiction. I just wrote my Sonic stories and read them aloud to my siblings. I adapted the games into epic novels, mixed in elements from the cartoons, crossed over other games, Michael Crichton’s book on nanotechnology called Prey, anything I wanted. The story universe grew into a sprawling monster of a thing.

I taught myself to type so I could convert my terrible handwriting into neatly typed pages. I consumed every book on writing I could find. I learned HTML to build a Web 1.0 website where I could post my stories, and maybe even connect with other kids who wrote Sonic stories.

The 90s gave way to the 2000s. My crappy little website grew into a fair-sized fansite with a busy community of creatives. I kept writing. I really wanted to try to write something publishable, but I didn’t really know how to write outside the universe I had spent so much time building. I dabbled here and there with a few ideas, but nothing stuck.

Fast forward. I got married, closed my website, got a job, and generally moved on with life. But the writing bug never left. I just loved burrowing inside a universe and reconstructing it from the inside out.

After I wrote a few books in my husband’s Spacetime universe (note: still fanfiction), I finally figured out how to convert fanfiction into original fiction.

Spoilers: you don’t.

Your favorite character is still your favorite character, even with a bit of a facelift. Or even living in a different world. As long as you give yourself enough characterization hooks to constantly remind yourself of who this character really is on the inside, you can write something ‘original’ while still secretly writing your fanfics.

“Okay,” I said to myself. “I happen to love young adult paranormal romance. But I hate vampires. What if I used this one reformed villain from my fanfics, and the heroine thinks he’s a vampire, but he’s a different kind of monster?”

As I worked to translate my reformed villain from one universe to another, I had to do a tremendous amount of world building to explain how the magic worked, how he kept himself alive, and better yet, how the magic was killing the heroine. I wanted bees that collected magic, and I had to build explanations for that. Slowly my fanfic character became his own person–deeply flawed, deeply wounded, compellingly loveable.

I turned to my heroine. She needed to be just as interesting as the monster. In fact, the more opposite she could be, the better. I imported another of my fanfic characters, a spunky, spitfire girl whose attitude stemmed from her massive insecurity. She’s impulsive. She’s headstrong. She’s stubborn. And when she decides that the hero is a vampire, she’s bound and determined to prove that he is. Except that he’s actually something worse.

“And now,” I thought to myself, laughing, “which of my really bad guys can I bring in to make their lives miserable?”

The funny thing is, the villain of Malevolent isn’t from my fanfics at all. If anything, he’s inspired by Dr. Phoenix from N.D. Wilson’s Ashtown Burials series–gentle, kind, and utterly ruthless.

As the books went on, the characters really stood on their own feet. The fanfic template faded. But it jumpstarted the delight, that kernel of joy that kept me up late, typing words until I had callouses on my fingertips.

Better yet, the readers enjoyed the book, too. They had no idea who these characters were originally. Heck, even in my fanfics, these characters barely resemble their official selves. My character arcs had been that deep. And now, given new life in a new setting, these characters whom I had loved for years could charm new readers.

So, if you, like me, are having trouble switching from fanfic to original fiction, just do it like this. Trick yourself. Use your fanfic characters, but dress them up so that nobody recognizes them except you.

It also works for old projects that you would like to rewrite and publish. Take only the gold from those early drafts–only the things that you love, love, love. Toss the rest and start fresh. Your readers will thank you.

 

Author Bio:

Kessie Carroll is a second-generation homeschooler. When she’s not chasing kids, she’s writing, drawing, blogging, or playing Minecraft with her hubby. Catch her online at her favorite haunts:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kmcarrollauthor

Twitter: @netraptor01

Blog: kmcarrollblog.wordpress.com

Malevolent: https://kmcarrollblog.wordpress.com/malevolent/

Bellanok is Available in Paperback!

bellanokanovelBELLANOK: THE RELUCTANT SAVIOR

I’m so excited to announce that Bellanok is officially available in physical book form. Yes! One for your bookshelf! One for your local library! One for your fellow fantasy lovers for Christmas!

This has been a long-time coming. And I am ever so thankful for all the love and support from family, friends, and fans. But most of all for God giving me this gift, this passion. This is truly a dream come true!

Before you hop over and purchase several copies for you and everyone you know, check out this fun book trailer from Amaeris Designs Productions.

Need an escape this weekend? Ready for a fantasy adventure? You can see a full description of Bellanok, as well as blog tour information, in My Books. But you know you just want to hop over and buy now! (Available for Kindle AND in paperback.)

 

amazonbutton

 

15042167_1246206618734470_2469217309359773998_o

If you’d like to follow along as I work on releasing another 3 books (also fantasy) through Elk Lake Publishing over the next couple of years, be sure to sign up for my newsletter!

And if you want to join in launch time fun and get to know a few other ladies of spec, as well as other spec readers, check out the Ladies of Spec Readers Group!

Novel News: July & August 2016

Where did the summer go? It has been crazy busy around here, and I feel like I’ve been getting nothing done. And the muggy heat has been beating down my energy levels, which is never any good.

At least I still have my books. And writing. And friends. Now I get to share some novel news with you!

 

New Releases

Bellanok4Bellanok: The Palandin’s Hope

The final part of my novel serial is HERE! I’m so excited to wrap up this book and see where Brian and Fauna’s adventures take them.

The demon horde is on its way, and Brian and Fauna have no way to protect Bellanok. They must pull the island together to rise up against the evil overtaking their numbers. But will it be too late? After all, Brian doesn’t even know the extent of his paladin powers, and Fauna still can’t talk to the Creator.

 

FrayedFrayed (Dark Trench Shadow Book 1) by Kerry Nietz

You know, the guy who wrote the Amish Vampires in Space book . . . Now he has a new series, Dark Trench Shadow. Here’s the blurb for Book 1:

ThreadBare is a debugger. He’s property, one of the Imam’s vast pool of implanted servants. He lives in a smelly, greasy garage on the boundary of the battlefield known as Delusion. All he wants is to complete his tasks, exceed his rival BullHammer, and stay alive. Possibly get a promotion.

When an atypical chore brings Thread into contact with Sandfly and HardCandy, things get complicated. Day by day and task by task he struggles with the life he’s always known. Ideas plague him, brutality vexes him, and women distract him.

Then there’s the list of offline debuggers, those who’ve quietly disappeared. Through datamixes—dreamlike records of their lives—Thread tries to uncover the truth. Where did they go? What does it all mean? And what can one forgotten debugger do about it anyway?

 

LegacyLegacy Rewound by Kat Hechenback

I read Finding Angel, the first book in the Toch Island Chronicles and really enjoyed it. I need to add Seeking Unseen (Book 2) and Legacy Rewound (Book 3) to my TBR list. Here’s the blurb:

Melinda knew Kalek’s music created powerful visions, but it wasn’t supposed to actually send her into the past! It definitely wasn’t supposed to bring someone back to the present with her. Especially not someone tied so tightly to Melinda’s own past, someone to prove, once again, that her family ancestry was made up of psychopaths who should never have existed. Now it’s her chance to change her lineage–and history–forever.

 

ThirdHeaven

 

The Third Heaven: Realm of the Dead by Donovan Neal

I just met Donovan at Realm Makers this year. I haven’t had a chance to read any of his books but they look interesting! Here’s a taste of his blurb:

Lucifer holds captive the archangel Talus as a prisoner of war. Will Lucifer’s powers of temptation and torture, turn his brother to his cause? Or will Talus remain faithful to the end?

 

 

Wrath

 

Wrath and Ruin: A Chilling Anthology by CW Briar

Another author I’ve known through Realm Makers. I love the cover here!

Some monsters are nightmarish beasts with fangs and grotesque bodies. Others come in the form of bad decisions we dread or regret. Both kinds haunt and stalk us while we are alone at night.

Wrath and Ruin is a collection of nine stories with a focus on fantasy and sci-fi threaded with quiet, traditional horror. Monsters, both literal and figurative, lurk in the shadows of this diverse anthology.

 

 

RopesOn the Ropes by Hallee Bridgeman

Okay, so here’s a non-spec for those of you who enjoy romantic suspense. I like one every now and then, and Hallee’s just a great storyteller. Here’s the blurb for this novella:

Blow after blow, she hides her face and fights for her life.
Doctor Ruth Burnette has everything she has ever dreamed possible: the perfect job, a twin sister who is her best friend, and a fiancé who is retiring from professional boxing as the middleweight champion of the world.

Then came that fateful night when she witnessed a mafia execution. When her sister is murdered she knows she’ll battle to the last round and never, ever throw in the towel. Now she’s down for the count, in witness protection, anxious, alone except for the faithful company of her German Shepherd at her side.

As the time draws near to when she has to leave her safe little corner she stays on her toes. She has to testify against one of the darkest criminals in New York, she shores up the courage to face the accused from the witness stand. Unexpectedly, he’s not the one who worries her. She wonders what coming face-to-face with his son, VICTOR KOVALEV…her former fiancé …will bring.

Will Ruth have a fighting chance against the Kovalev family, or will Victor keep her pinned ON THE ROPES?

 

Writing Update

Now that Bellanok is complete, what’s up next on my plate?

Well, I’m going to compile Bellanok into one novel, and then make it available as an ebook and a paperback. I hope to release that sometime in October. In the meantime, I’m going to be running some contests and giveaways in anticipation of that release!

At Realm Makers, I got a request for my YA fantasy story. So I polished up the proposal and sent that, along with the full manuscript off to this publisher. In the meantime, I begin my massive overhaul of a supernatural suspense, now titled, Soul Seer. I’m pitching it this week at ACFW. Pray for me! Depending on feedback, I may consider it for another self-publishing project.

 

Other News

13835825_10209189383505598_284719027_oRealm Makers had their conference at the end of July, and it was fantastic. It just gets better and smoother every year! I heard lots of good feedback from attendees. Now that this year is over, though, we’re looking forward to 2017. If you haven’t seen the news all over yet, Realm Makers is going to be in Reno, NV, July 27-July 29.

If you’re a published author in speculative fiction (or if you know someone who is), be looking for more information on our annual Realm Award and Genre Awards toward the end of the year.

 

Cartoon

14051804_1137317636306739_2224032335461958373_n

What was the last book you purchased? Have you read it yet?

Writers, did you have a novel release this month?

Please feel free to share in the comments!

New Release: Zombie Takeover by Michele Harper

You know that person that can make just about anyone smile? We all have at least one of those in our lives. Well, I’m happy to share one of those people with you today. You might remember her Confessions post from a couple of weeks ago, but it is my pleasure to introduce you to Michele Harper.

AUTHOR BIO:

Author Head Shot MicheleMichele Israel Harper spends her days as a stay-at-home mom and her nights typing away furiously on her laptop. Sleep? Sometimes… A member of the Heartland Christian Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, as well as the treasurer for the Indiana chapter of ACFW, Michele has her bachelor’s degree in History and can most often be found with her nose in a book when not chasing her two rambunctious boys or cuddling her new baby daughter. Visit her website at www.MicheleIsraelHarper.com to learn more about her.

I met Michele last year after she read Bellanok and went ga-ga over it. She seriously made my day. We became friends on Facebook and were getting to know each other when I got to meet her in person at a local ACFW event. Turns out, she had a couple books out too. Here she’s signing one for me!

 

Michelle is just a joy to know! And even being a mom and wife, she still is an editor, publisher, & author. Amazing!

And as an author she just released another book: Zombie Takeover.

Check out the blurb:

Zombie Takeover_Kindle editionI was the bravest, fiercest warrior, singlehandedly stopping the zombie apocalypse and earning the respect and admiration of those who fought with me. Just kidding. I pretty much peed my pants and wasted a ton of ammo. At least everyone else shot what they were aiming at. Me? Not so much. This is my story—me, Candace Marshall, the world’s biggest scaredy-cat, facing my biggest fear. Zombies. It was awesome. (As in, not at all.)

Candace Marshall hates zombie movies. She hates anything scary, in fact. In his usual, notso-thoughtful way, her boyfriend surprises her with advanced screening tickets to the latest zombie flick, complete with interactive features and a tour. She refuses to watch it, but it doesn’t matter. Horror becomes reality when an experiment gone wrong transforms her peaceful town into a mess of slathering zombies. Thrown together with the only other survivor, Gavin Bailey, her favorite actor and secret crush, she somehow fights her way through the mess, making plenty of blunders and surprising herself with … courage?

Here are the buy links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Yo9yUf

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1U9F2NV

iBooks: http://apple.co/1S2Xr7E

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1Ugurhl

 

file0002117963911Blog Tour

Michele’s hitting celebrity status–she’s even got her own online tour! Ha! Just kidding. But if you’re interested in some insights, interviews, etc., check out the rest of her tour!

Thursday, July 7th: Amy Brock McNew (www.AmyBrockMcNew.com) Interview

Friday, July 8th: Kristen Stieffel (www.newauthors.wordpress.com) Guest Post

Saturday, July 9th: Laurie Lucking (www.landsuncharted.com) My Top 3 Spec Fic Picks

Sunday, July 10th: Robin Pack (www.snippetsoffaith.com) Book Review
Monday, July 11th: Robin Scobee (www.quillsandinkblotts.blogspot.com) Book Review

Tuesday, July 12th: Michele Israel Harper (www.MicheleIsraelHarper.com) Release Day Feature

Wednesday, July 13th: Jennette Mbewe (www.jlmbewe.com) Book Launch Fun Post

Thursday, July 14th: Shayla Eaton (www.curiouserediting.com/blog) Review

 

Of course, you can find Michele on social media too . . .

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/love2readlove2write/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/razersj

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14554353.Michele_Israel_Harper

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/razersj/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michele_israel_harper/

Amazon Author: http://www.amazon.com/Michele-Israel-Harper/e/B016YW4Q6Q

 

I love sharing new books with you guys and introducing you to my friends.

Do you have any questions for Michele about being an author or about Zombie Takeover?

Novel News: June 2016

Another month has come and is almost gone. June was pretty much a blur for me with so much going on: my son’s birthday, Father’s Day, my anniversary, another bout of weather-related illness, and tons of fun with the kids. And here we are, ready for another Novel News update!

 

New Releases

51VKgWOVwGL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Acolyte by Keven Newsome

This is the 3rd book in the Winter series, a series that has been surprisingly enjoyable, packed with action, demons, and an insecure prophetess (a la Old Testament prophet-style). Keven did not disappoint in this 3rd leg of the journey. Winter struggled with her powers while trying to protect her friends and the villain’s target. I can’t wait for the final book!

 

 

 

Bellanok4Bellanok: The Paladin’s Hope 

The final novella in my Bellanok serial. It has not come out yet, but it comes out on TUESDAY, JUNE 28! That’s right. More dragons. More demons. More fantasy fun. Are you ready for the final battle? Good. Because I’m not sure Brian and Fauna are. If you haven’t caught up on their journey yet, check out My Books.

 

 

 

51-1lyLoeVL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

The Circumnavigation of Shatterworld

by Lelia Rose Foreman

I have not read this book yet, but it is by a fellow Realmie. It looks like quite the interesting sci-fi adventure tale, though, with new earth species, storms, and monsters of all sorts.

Writing Update

Now that the Bellanok serial is done, what’s next for me?

Well, I will be compiling Bellanok into one novel that will be available both as an ebook and paperback. I hope to release that in mid-July. No exact date yet.

After that, I will be revising Aletheia, the first book in a trilogy based on the premise question, “What if the armor of God were real?” Hopefully, I’ll have that finished before I head off to Realm Makers at the end of July.

 

Other News

The Silmarillion Awards: An interesting new set of awards. Click on the link to find out more!

If you write fantasy, should you read it? Great article on the Faith & Fantasy Alliance blog.

 

It’s the start of my conference season! Today, I’m at the KY Christian Writers Conference in Elizabethtown, KY. A small, intimate conference that is so inspiring.

Next month, I head up to Villanova, PA, for the Realm Makers conference. And in August, I’ll be at the ACFW conference in Nashville. Yay!

I hope I’ll get to see some of you at one of the conferences!

 

Quote

13495543_10156981841725537_5500102008228851927_o

 

Do you have any big summer plans?

Writers, did you have a novel release this month?

Please feel free to share in the comments!

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss any of the updates! Coming in July, we have more goals, more confessions, and lots of book fun!

Novel News: May 2016

Welcome to my new end-of-the-month posts! In Novel News, I’ll be sharing new releases, quotes from books, author highlights, and whatever else my book nerd heart desires.

Sounds fun, right? Don’t miss any of the news, sign up for my newsletter!

New Releases

13073034_10153909240935743_981598948_o

Bellanok: The Dragon’s Oath

The first book that came out is . . . MINE! Ha! You knew I had to share that, right? The 3rd part in my novella serial came out earlier this month. As Brian prepares for his new role as the Creator’s chosen paladin, Fauna struggles with her inability to communicate with the Creator anymore. An unexpected turn of events will rock the faith they’ve worked hard to build. Will they be able to rise above their struggles? Find out in Bellanok: The Dragon’s Oath.

 

 

Also out this month . . .

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00038]

 

Darkened Hope by J.L. Mbewe

This is the second book in the The Hidden Dagger trilogy. (Secrets Kept is the first.) The author is a good friend of mine, and I’ve had the honor of helping her proofread her books. Darkened Hope is even better than the first book, full of interesting cultures, unexpected twists, and well-rounded characters. I definitely recommend reading Darkened Hope this summer.

 

 

9781943788040-Perfect.indd

 

Rebirth by Amy Brock McNew

This debut release by Amy is one of the best stories I’ve read in 2016. The emotional depth and realism in this story kept me up late at night. The kickbutt heroine and battles with demons didn’t hurt either. Amy often talks about “guts on the page” in her Facebook and blog posts, and you can tell her guts are on the page in this story. Definitely add this one to your list!

 

 

Progeny

 

Progeny by Tosca Lee

I just started reading this story. It’s in first person, present tense, which I don’t usually enjoy, but Tosca just sucked me in. She doesn’t drop much backstory in the first few chapters, so you feel like you’re right there with the main character (who doesn’t remember who she was), and it opens so many natural questions. Yay!

 

 

 

516msN7b5NL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

 

The Beautiful Pretender (A Medieval Fairy Tale) by Melanie Dickerson

For the fairy tale lover in all of us! I haven’t started this book, but I’ve enjoyed other novels by Melanie Dickerson. I look forward to trying this one out. (I just love her covers though!)

 

 

Writing Update

Bellanok 4 is well underway. I was hoping to release it the first week of June, but it looks like I might have to push it to the second week. The tentative release date is June 10. Are you ready for the epic ending to our urban fantasy tale?

In Other News . . . 

Huge Giveaway of several different books from Amaze-ing Hats!

I’m reading an ARC for another fabulous book to read this summer, the 3rd in a trilogy. I’ll be sharing more in June.

Quotes

I found this meme while I was reading Rebirth (above), and it fit so perfectly with the story as well as with some things I’ve been going through. What do you think?

13240524_1542139216094276_4451309346521520846_n

 

 

 

Bellanok: The Dragon’s Oath Release!

I know, I know–y’all have been patient, but you have been waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting. Well, my friends, wait no more!

Bellanok: The Dragon’s Oath is finally here!

But, first, I’ll be your ready to see the new cover. Well, you voted, and I’m happy to say you went with my favorite as well. Here is the cover for the 3rd novella in the Bellanok series:

13073034_10153909240935743_981598948_o

What do you think? Beautiful, right?

Looking for a little info about this part of the story? Here’s the blurb:

The adventure continues!

Brian is in over his head as he bumbles around Bellanok, trying to learn what it means to be a paladin. Whether he’s sword training with Roman or calling down holy fire with Fauna, he just can’t seem to get anything right.

At the same time, Fauna is struggling with her inability to communicate with the Creator and what this could mean for the future of Bellanok.

Will they be prepared for what is to come? Or will Bellanok fall prey to the demons at its coast?

Now, I hope y’all will take the time to hop over and purchase Bellanok: The Dragon’s Oath as soon as you can. And, please, feel free to leave a review when you’re done to let other people know how much you enjoyed it. (Cause I know you will!)

BUY BELLANOK: THE DRAGON’S OATH HERE!

Haven’t read the first two yet? No worries. Guess what? THEY ARE BOTH FREE THIS WEEKEND! Starting tomorrow (Saturday, May 7) through Sunday night. Get ready for a journey to an island far, far away–and yet so very near.

Bellanok: The Reluctant Savior

Bellanok: An Urgent Quest

 

And if y’all wouldn’t mind sharing this post across social media, I’d appreciate it! 

Don’t miss the exciting conclusion to the story! Subscribe to my blog/newsletter and be the first to know!

Life and Updates

file0001024202589Happy Monday, everyone!

I know it’s been awhile since y’all have heard from me. Life has been, well, crazy around here the last few months. So much that I can’t even get into right now. So, I thought I’d catch you up on some stuff . . .

  1. Yes, Bellanok 3 is coming out soon. Look for more information at the end of the week. I’m going to have y’all help me with something! I’ll just say for now that Bellanok 3 will be out in March and part 4 will be out in April.
  2. I am (finally) open for editing again. If you’re looking for an editor (or getting close to being ready), check out my editing services page and shoot me an e-mail! (E-mail is basically my name at gmail.)
  3. Two of my friends are celebrating some pretty amazing stuff this month.
    1. J.L. Mbewe is celebrating her birthday hobbit style–a birthday bash on her blog with fun prizes!
    2. Zachary Totah is celebrating his one-year blogaversary with some reflection and, of course, some prizes. One of which is ebook copies of both of Bellanok novellas so far.
  4. In April, I’ll be participating in a couple of Facebook parties with other speculative fiction authors. Stay tuned for more information to come! If you haven’t signed up for my blog/newsletter, do so now so you don’t miss out on all the fun.

In other areas, my daughters both have birthdays in March. We’re throwing a joint part–a slumber party. What am I getting myself into? I just can’t believe my oldest will be turning 10! TEN!

Homeschooling is as much a joy as ever–even if we are a little behind. The kids are all loving the books we are reading this year with our Sonlight curriculum. We’re studying the first half of American history and have read books like The Sign of the Beaver, and we’re just finishing up The Witch of Blackbird Pond (one of my fave books in elementary books).

In 6 weeks, we’ll be taking the family (along with my husband’s side of the family) to Disney World! We’re very excited about it–and so are the kids.

So, that’s a little update on me. What about you guys? What’s new with you? What can we celebrate?

A Spekkie Author Christmas Part 4

A Spekkie Christmas (2)Christmas is a time steeped in tradition–religious, cultural, and family tradition! I don’t think too many families celebrate Christmas just alike. And that’s what makes this month so unique and fun!

At our house, we have started the Family Night Box tradition on Christmas Eve. Kind of like the “open one present” tradition both my husband and I had on Christmas Eve growing up, our family opens up the Family Night Box, which includes new PJs for everyone and either a family movie or family game. (I try to alternate–this year will be a game!)

So, I just had to know how my spekkie friends celebrate their Christmas season and what makes their traditions unique.

 

When I was a kid, one of our family traditions was making lefse, a Norwegian flatbread. Every Christmas we would make a batch, then eat it with butter and sugar, rolled up or cut into triangles and served with tea. Both sides of my family would serve this traditional Norwegian food as part of our heritage. —Morgan Busse

 

It’s pretty standard fare for us to splurge on the Christmas meal. We usually get a beef tenderloin and bake it/grill it up with delicious seasonings. It’s typically a larger, more expensive cut of meat, but it always hits the spot. I am a carnivore, so of course I love it. —Ben Wolf

 

Baking a Birthday cake for Jesus. We get ‘em – so why shouldn’t He? —Josh Hardt

 

My family and I have a specific routine on Christmas Eve. When it gets dark, we heat up some apple cider (or snag a Starbucks), blast Christmas music, and drive around to look at as many Christmas lights as we can in the area. After we return home, we give each other one or two presents that have something to do with Christmas morning be it a new coffee cup or pajamas or when I was little, a new stuffed animal. —Victoria Grace Howell

 

We don’t get to do this much anymore, but every Christmas my family would go out soon after Thanksgiving and get our Christmas tree. No, I’m not talking a lot in town or a plastic tree from the attic, we’d pack up snacks and hot chocolate then head up to the mountains. Then the search would begin for the perfect tree. Those are some of my fondest memories with my family, hiking all over (sometimes in feet of snow) to find that perfect, 12 foot tree (we’ve got tall ceilings). I’m excited that this year I get to participate in this tradition again since I’ll be going home earlier than normal. I’m definitely looking forward to it! —Emilie Hendryx

 

We wrap up a gift for Jesus. It’s an empty box with an imperfect wrapping job to remind us how imperfect we are. Then we put a slit in the top, and every family member writes on a piece of paper what they are going to give to Jesus for the coming year. No one knows what anyone else has written; it’s very personal. Then we put the papers in the box and place the box in the fireplace and light a fire. It’s kind of our burnt offering to God. —S.D. Grimm

 

One tradition we have that dates back to my own childhood is that we allow the children to choose one small gift to open at midnight Christmas Eve. I loved the tradition my parents started and have enjoyed sharing it with my children. —Ronie Kendig

 

At New Year’s Eve, we drop the Christmas Yeti. It’s a stuffed toy that my sister in law brought back from the 2012 Winter Olympics. The end of the year always makes me depressed and melancholy, because I’m naturally pessimistic and tend to focus on things I didn’t accomplish. So my husband came up with dropping the yeti as our own personal ‘New Year’s Eve’ ball. Since then that goofy yeti’s descent has been the main thing that really makes me laugh and not overthink the whole end of the year concept. —Janeen Ippolito

 

What is one unique family tradition YOU have at Christmas time?

 

Don’t miss out on the final post . . . or lots more fun to come in 2016! Sign up for my newsletter today.

A Spekkie Author Christmas Part 3

A SPEKKIE CHRISTMAS (1)I love giving gifts at Christmas time. I’m definitely one of those who agonizes over finding just the right gift that complements family and friends. Sometimes I run out of time or never land on the perfect present. Still, I love watching people open presents–the light in their eyes, the smiles on their faces . . . *happy sigh*

I think the best present I ever received was the year my husband was deploying to Kosovo. He left in October for training, but wasn’t actually going overseas until January. His unit was able to come home for a short Christmas break before heading off. I think that is one of the most special times I got to spend with him.

So, I asked my spekkie writer friends what their best Christmas present ever was, and they had some very unique answers . . .

 

One of my best friends got me How To Write A Children’s Book and Get It Published by Barbara Seuling when I first interested in writing picture books. That was back in 1997. I read that thing over and over! But her support of my dream was the most important. She’s still one of my biggest fans! —Pam Halter

 

I think I was about sixteen, maybe fifteen, when my parents gave me a real desk for Christmas. I’d been asking for one for ages. It had a hutch bookshelf on top. I filled it with all my favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels and writing how-to-books. It made me feel like a real writer to have my own writing desk. —Kristen Stieffel

 

Oh boy. I’ve gotten so many good presents, but one that I still use a lot today is my WACOM Bamboo Tablet which is an artist’s tablet I use for drawing my characters. My mom gave me the tablet and I didn’t expect to get it because it was expensive, but I put it on my list several years ago anyway. I use the tablet so much and it makes drawing so much easier and faster! —Victoria Grace Howell

 

My family is so generous and I can think of many that impacted my life one way or another. But one of my favorites was a hope chest. My parents gave one to me and each of my sisters. Before I was married, I filled it with dishes and cute kitchen things for when I’d get married. Now that I’m married, it holds all 23 of my journals. (Yes, twenty-three.) —Nadine Brandes

 

We brought our newborn daughter home less than 2 days before Christmas. I’m probably required by Proud Daddy Code to say her. —C.W. Briar

 

A hand-made wooden dollhouse from my parents and grandparents. Mom and Dad bought the kit, and Grandma and Grandpa assembled it. It has windows and doors that open and close, and it was painted the same color as our house at the time. It must have been Christmas of 1992. I still have it, and every time I see it, I smile. Such amazing, fond memories of that Christmas morning. I was so surprised. —A.C. Williams

 

The best Christmas present I received happened when I was 16. It was the gift of my mom’s ingenuity and humility. My mom and I were on alone and she had just enough money to pay rent. There wasn’t money for food let along gifts, so I was shocked to receive three gifts that year – a sterling silver swan ring holder, a brass/glass mirrored perfume tray, and earrings, I think. She hadn’t bought any of them. She’d gone through the mall, humiliating herself by filling out credit applications she knew she wouldn’t be approved for (based on income), but with each application, they gave away a gift. And that gift became my Christmas present. She was always creative and ingenious that way. I really miss her. —Ronie Kendig

 

When I was a kid, personal computers weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now. When I was ten or twelve or somewhere in there, I woke up on Christmas morning to find two huge boxes sitting amidst all the other presents. One was for me, and the other was for my sister. We tore the paper off and found two brand new desktop computers in the boxes. (My dad was and is a tech geek, so he had the hookup.) —Ben Wolf

 

What is the best Christmas present you have ever received?

 

Still 2 more spekkie posts to go! Are you enjoying the fun? Sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss a post!