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!

A Spekkie Author Christmas Part 2

a spekkie authorChristmas is my favorite time of year–always has been. So many memories . . . Like the time I bought my mom a special book and made her cry, or the time we were moving over Christmas and “decorated” our van, or the first Christmas I spent with my husband. What’s not to love?

So, this week, I asked the speculative fiction authors what their favorite Christmas memory is. As with any group, it’s a fun array of answers!


Oh, so many! My siblings and I would stay up all night long reading books in a blanket-tent in our upstairs library, trying to keep the fire going all night long. This was a yearly tradition (that made it tough on Santa since the stockings were over the fire) and cultivated a lot of bonding between me and my siblings. —Nadine Brandes


One Christmas my dad made me a mobile of gifts and I got to cut away each one revealing a fun gift. It wasn’t so much the gifts that I liked as it was the thoughtfulness my dad put into it. He has always loved giving gifts and does so with love and care. It reminds me of how God loves us and cares for each one of us with just as much love and care. —E.A. Hendryx


One year, I found weird ways to wrap everything. Nothing went into a nice, happy box unless the box was the entirely wrong size and shape for the thing that went into it. I wrapped a necklace after putting it into an empty, plastic tape dispenser. A DVD was taped to the bottom of a shirt box. A shirt was wrapped around a metal coat-hanger bent into a loop. This happened because the previous year, one of my relatives boasted that he could guess what all his presents were, and he was right most of the time. I decided to mess with his head, and everyone else’s. —Cindy Koepp


Nearly every year, my mom and my grandma and I would make Christmas candy. We made fudge and peanut butter fudge and toffee cookies and all sorts of treats that we could share with the whole family. Every year, I’d look forward to it because as I got older, I got more responsibility in the kitchen. I used to just fetch ingredients, but then I moved up to stirring pots, and eventually I got to chop nuts. In the last few years, I’m the one in charge of candy making, and it’s my mom and grandma who assist. So it’s pretty cool to see how we’ve come full circle. —A.C. Williams


T’was the night before Christmas, and for some reason I was in a shopping cart in the toy section. Whatever I pointed to usually went into the cart. I didn’t really understand this memory until I spoke with my mom. Apparently they had fallen behind in Christmas shopping, so they had us pick out all our presents, wrapped them, and then we unwrapped them the next day! Apparently we were still completely surprised. —Janeen Ippolito


When I was in fifth grade, my grandma was diagnosed with advance lung cancer. At the time, my mom was a single mother trying to raise four kids and go to college. But when my grandma was diagnosed, my mom took that semester off to take care of her mother (who was also single). All of our income was tied up in school loans, so when mom took that time off from school, we had no money.

A couple days before Christmas, my grandma passed away. It was a dark time for our family. We had no money for Christmas and we had just buried my grandma. Not only was it going to be a hard Christmas, it looked like there would be no presents under the tree.

Unbeknownst to us, a family member submitted our names to an Angel tree to provide us with gifts. On Christmas Eve, a couple packages showed up with food and presents. We all gathered in my grandma’s tiny house and gave thanks for the generosity of others during our time of need. I’ve experienced many Christmases since then, but I will never forget that one. —Morgan Busse


We didn’t start doing the Elf on the Shelf until our kids were older, and the last couple years of elfing have been so fun. Wendy (our elf) gets into lots of mischief. This year, she’s going to be looking for love on some online dating sites. —Lindsay Franklin

What about you? What is YOUR favorite Christmas memory?


Don’t miss the next 3 weeks of spekkie author fun! Sign up for my newsletter now. Plus, get info on Bellanok as soon as it becomes available. I can’t wait!

A Spekkie Author Christmas

A Spekkie ChristmasSpekkie? What’s a spekkie? Well, I’m glad you asked.

A spekkie is the nickname people at Realm Makers have given speculative fiction writers. What’s speculative fiction? Well, that’s a term that encompasses genres like fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural, and the like.

It’s been several years since I delved into the world of speculative fiction. And what an exciting adventure it has been! I’ve met a lot of amazing people who have imaginations as wild as mine–many more so.

For the next few Wednesdays, I thought I’d introduce y’all to the minds and hearts of these unique people through something we all share: Christmas. Each week, I’ll ask a question and share the answers from a few different authors. Some are published, some are not. Some are older, some are barely 18. Some write fantasy, some write sci-fi. All are wonderful people to know.

So, without further ado, here is the question for Week 1:

We’re finally allowed to listen to Christmas music without people looking at us weird! What is your favorite Christmas song and why?


I tend to be rather Old School when it comes to religious and holiday stuff. In this case, I’m very Old School. One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Lulay Mine Liking,” which had its start in the Medieval era (15th C). Other favorites include “O Holy Night” (1847) and “O Come Emmanuel” (tune: 15th C, words: 1710). —Cindy Koepp


Well, it’s hard to stick with just one, but this time I’ll say O Come O Come Emmanuel. When we sang this on the first Sunday of Advent this year, we sang a verse I hadn’t heard before. It wasn’t in our old hymnal:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Kristen Stieffel


I like all the songs mere mortals (like me) shouldn’t even attempt to sing: “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night,” “O Come All Ye Faithful.” If I sound like a dying cat singing it, it’s probably one of my favorites. —Lindsay A. Franklin


It’s a toss-up between “Little Drummer Boy” and “Silent Night/Night of Silence.” The former because it speaks of simple faith. We all of us are ‘poor boys, too’ – with nothing extravagant to offer God in exchange for the gifts He gives us!

The latter is not only a beautiful song (it gives me chills!); but it speaks in truly tangible ways of the Hope that came in the form of a babe.

“Mary Did you Know?” is a runner-up. It asks poignant questions and really speaks to how little we truly do understand how much God has done for us. —Josh Hardt


This is a hard one. I will say it’s not Christmas without the classics such as Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby. But to choose one song, I think … “O Holy Night.” The flow of the music, each note weaving together and building to a crescendo until you can’t help but sing along albeit out of tune, because who among us non-singing folk can reach those high notes? Or maybe it’s just me. And the message obviously. Contemplating the birth of Christ and why He came. —J.L. Mbewe


And last of all . . . me! My favorite Christmas song for a long time was “O Holy Night,” and it is still one of my faves. However, in recent years it was surpassed by “Mary, Did You Know?” That song gives me shivers every time I hear it! Could you imagine being the mother of the Son of God?


Thanks to my spekkies for sharing with us today. Next week, we’ll explore the question: What is your favorite Christmas memory? In the meantime . . .

What is YOUR favorite Christmas song?

Bellanok is Finally Here!

Ralene Bellnock 1 The Reluctant SaviorToday is the day, my friends!

The day all my dreams (since I was a little girl) come true. There is a book out there with MY name on it. Bellanok: The Reluctant Savior is on Amazon!

Thank You

And there are some many people out there to thank. First, and most important, praise be to the my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, without whom none of this would even be possible.

Next to my family who has always been so supportive. I can’t count the number of times my husband herded the kids so I could squeeze in some writing time. Or the number of times my mom had to listen to me whine/cry/complain over the phone. No matter what, though, they never let me think I couldn’t do it.

God has blessed me with the most amazing community of writer friends. I’ve had some encouraging and discerning critique partners over the years. Most recently, I’ve had 3 women who have gone above and beyond for me and with me, and they deserve some recognition. Please give your virtual applause to Morgan L. Busse (my current critique partner), J.L. Mbewe (cover designer for Bellanok), and Rebecca P. Minor (Director for Realm Makers and a great friend). Thank you, ladies, for all you have done.

More on Bellanok: The Reluctant Savior

A friend of mine asked me to describe my book in one sentence, using the hashtag #ReadThisBookBecause, and here was my response:

#ReadThisBookBecause it’s not everyday a unicorn becomes a nightmare.

That’s just a teeny insight into the world of Bellanok. If that’s not enough to convince you to read it, visit the Amazon page to find out more! I also made a home for the book on my website.

Look for Part 2, Bellanok: The Quest for the Sword, coming around Thanksgiving.

Facebook Party

Don’t forget! If you’d like to learn more about me or Bellanok, I’ll be a special guest at J.L. Mbewe’s Facebook party TOMORROW NIGHT! There’s going to be all kinds of prizes, discussions, and other fun stuff.


More Books!

After you purchase my book (you know you want to!), don’t forget to check out these two books, also out today:

A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes


Embers by Ronie Kendig

Happy reading this weekend!

The Week of Bellanok . . . and Two More Books!

12071837_10153505589750743_1232367403_nRelease week is finally here. I am so thrilled . . . oh, man, you just do not even know. There’s also a good measure of fear and uncertainty, as there always is whenever we put ourselves out there in a way that makes us vulnerable. But this story is something God put on my heart, so at least I know my Audience of One approves.

This week, I am also working hurriedly on Part 2, hoping to have that done soon so that I can release that sometime around Thanksgiving. Oh, yes, that soon. The plan is to release each of the 5-part serial once a month.

If you have not yet signed up for my newsletter, I highly encourage you to do so. Be the FIRST to know any of the upcoming news about releases and such, as well as fun and encouragement delivered to your Inbox on a regular basis.

So, Bellanok: The Reluctant Savior releases on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2015.

It will only be available in e-book format for Kindle. If you do not have a Kindle, I am sure you are aware by now that Amazon has Kindle apps available for your computer, tablets, and phones. Download it to day so you’re ready!

If you have yet to see or hear what Bellanok is about, here’s a little blurb:

Bellanok is a haven for myths and legends . . . until evil discovers a way in. Now the fairy queen, Fauna, must journey from the island realm to the modern world to find the man the Creator appointed to save their kingdom. A man she has been dreaming of her whole life.

Brian is a down-on-his-luck pastor on the verge of giving up on God. He’s tired and frustrated–a failure. No sooner does he make a decision that jeopardizes his career than an unusual blonde woman shows up and tries to convince him he is some kind of savior.

Fauna must open Brian’s eyes to a different reality, and Brian needs to embrace the haven’s secrets. If neither of them succeeds, Bellanok will succumb to evil and the world will lose all trace of innocence.  





On Saturday, October 17, I’ll be a guest at J.L. Mbewe’s anniverary party on Facebook. Not only will you get to chat with me and learn more about who I am and what Bellanok is all about, but you’ll also get to know 2 of my best friends and favorite writers, J.L. Mbewe and Morgan Busse.



And Two More Novels

While I am super excited about my own novellette releasing, there are 2 other books I am excited about, so I thought I would share them with you.



The first title is the second book in Nadine Brandes’ Out of Time series, called A Time to Speak. This dystopian tales continues to follow a young woman named Parvin and her journey to change her world. I am about halfway through the first book, A Time to Die, and am loving it. I highly recommend it for YA and adult readers alike.






The second book is Embers by Ronie Kendig, the first novel in her Abiassa’s Fire series. This is Ronie’s first foray into the realm of fantasy writing. Her books up until now have fallen under her well-known tagline, Rapid-Fire Fiction, and have been more suspense/romantic suspense. I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read from her. If she applies the same tactics in Embers, suspense with a twist of fantasy, I’m sure this novel is going to be a hit!



So, now you have THREE books to enjoy this weekend. How will you ever choose?

Who said anything about choosing?

Support literacy in America and buy all 3! Not that I’m biased or anything.

Which stories sound the most interesting to you? What do you think of the awesome covers?