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Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After Christmas

Okay, Christmas is over, passing in a blur of laughter, food, friends and family, wrapping paper, and cranky, over-stimulated children. It was totally glorious, but I’m so tired I can hardly move. I’m so worn out I’m even thinking that next year I might BREAK SOME TRADITIONS!

Gasp! What horror! How could you? We’ve always done it this way! Yeah, well, my reply is I’m doing it out of self-preservation. Here’s the schedule; see what you think of it.

On Christmas Eve morning we go to my sister-in-law’s house for breakfast. It’s such a lovely gesture on her part. We don’t have to bring a thing. We just go and enjoy eating and being with the family. But we can’t stay as long as we’d like because we have to have to meet our best friends at lunch time to exchange gifts. We can’t visit as long as we’d like with them because we have to get home to cook for the Christmas Eve dinner.

We’d like to take a little nap, but we can’t because if we deviate from our schedule even one little bit we’ll be up half the night catching up.

We have dinner on Christmas Eve with my husband’s family, but we can’t stay as long as we’d like because we have to hurry home to cook for tomorrow morning.

On Christmas morning we have to get up by six o’clock because we have my family coming for breakfast. All we have to do this morning is make coffee and tea, bake a casserole, and warm up the things we cooked last night. The breakfast isn’t fancy, but we do have plenty of it. We’d like to have some more coffee after we get the presents opened, but we can’t because we have to get the house straightened out for dinner. We also have to bake and carve the turkey.

By three everyone is arriving. We eat too much, open some more presents and just generally have a good time. This is the one gathering during the past two days where we don’t have to hurry. After everyone leaves we have to take out the garbage, wash the dishes, scour the kitchen, sweep up the grass and dirt tracked in, and finally we’re finished.

And I haven’t even mentioned washing the Christmas china, pulling out linens, and advance baking I did before Christmas Eve rolled around.

As I said, it’s glorious, but I’m wondering if maybe next year I can cut a few corners. I have to use the Christmas china. I love it so, there’s no compromise there. Now about the food… Who says that I have to bake the turkey? I have a friend who does turkeys for people; I’ll get him to do it. And who says that I have to bake all the desserts? I know a lady who owns a bakery. Why not buy some baked goods from her?

And that breakfast. I love it dearly, but why not simplify the menu a bit? I mean, do we really need four different desserts? I wonder if our friends would be willing to do our gift exchange at a different time, a time when nobody has to rush off.

We’ll see. Maybe I'll remember for next year, but maybe not.

Hope all of you had as wonderful a time as I did.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Please Welcome Linore Rose Burkard

I've got a treat for you today! Readers of regency or inspirational romance will undoubtedly be familiar with Linore's work. Spirit and Sensibility
for the Jane Austen Soul perfectly describes Linore's s work. She specializes in
Fast-paced adventure, falling-in-love, humor, all the Regency atmosphere you could want and feisty heroines who aren't afraid to fall on their knees to pray. Her work is filled with twists and turns when you least expect them and happy ending made in Heaven.

Welcome, Linore. Thanks for stopping by. I know everyone's eager to hear about you and your work. My first question if for Linore the writer.

For the benefit of anyone not familiar with your work, can you tell us how you became a writer? Is it something you always wanted to do?

It’s something I long felt was too exalted a thing for me, little me, to do—write a book! I loved books from the time I could hold them in my hands, and especially from when I started reading; but I thought authors were like a special order of being, not, surely not mere mortals like the rest of us. Now that I’m an author I can say that authors are a certain kind of people—imaginative, persevering, hard-working, and driven. But we clean house and run errands like anyone else!

That's funny because I felt the same way. My husband told me for years I should try to write, but I didn't believe I could. Could you tell us about your writing? What genres do you write in, etc.

I write inspirational romance for “the Jane Austen soul.” In other words, regency romance with a twist of faith. My books take readers back in time to experience life and love during the regency, while inspiring them to believe that God is involved in everyday life. I also think my stories remind us that happy endings are possible for anyone.

Are there any other authors who’ve inspired you?

Jane Austen, Dickens, and Georgette Heyer; as well as Rumer Godden, and one of my childhood favorites, Eleanor Estes. Probably lots of others, too.

It's hard to narrow it down, isn't it? What are your future goals as a writer?
I’d like to be the author who brings the Regency to life for the Christian market the way Georgette Heyer did for the world at large. If I can succeed in tucking in a good amount of fun, wit, and research, alongside of memorable characters and that all-important faith element, I believe I will do it. The reader response to my first book, Before the Season Ends, has been overwhelmingly, even passionately, favourable, so my prayer is that I’ll be able to maintain the same quality of writing in all of my books.

I've read Before The Season Ends and can highly recommend it. In fact I'm looking forward to the sequel The House In Grosvenor Square. Where can we find more information about you and your work?

On my brand new website! I have some truly nifty free resources there for readers, too. If you’re new to the Regency you will really appreciate some of them.

What's that address?

It's a very pretty website. I love the colors. What do you hope that people will be saying about your work fifty years from now?

That each book was great in its own way; that I was the author who first introduced them to Christian regency romance and they’ve loved it ever since.

That sounds great, Linore. I also a few questions for Linore the person. What three words best describe you as a person?

Authentic (I am what I am!)
Expectant (God slowly reveals his plan for my life)
Diversified (I’m a mom, I have to be!)

If you had an entire day just to have fun and amuse yourself what would you do?

Right now, it would be to go shopping. I’ve been so busy this month I’ve had to do most of my Christmas shopping online. But I prefer to be there, among the bustle and rush of the season. Just long enough, not all day, and then I’d come home and watch “A Christmas Carol,” or a good period film.

Care to share one of your most embarrassing moments with us?

I did that on another blog! But here’s a different one: Once I was driving with my husband and two of our friends, another couple, in the backseat. Mike (my husband) had to get out and check the oil level in the car, and when he climbed back in he was complaining that he had somehow got some oil on his arm. I blurted out, as if I was with one of my kids, “Don’t lick your arm!” To peals of laughter from the backseat, my husband thanked me profusely for reminding him not to lick his arm, since, of course, he was in a terrible habit of doing so. I still get teased about that.

Yes, no doubt you do. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Spending more time baking, cooking, decorating, going places, playing games with the kids, and making my yard beautiful (gardening). Since I still have my children at home except for one who is away most of the year at college, I have to sacrifice a lot of my other creative outlets to give myself to the writing life. There are rooms I would have wall-papered by now, and some I still haven’t painted that I would have. I try not to take anything away from interacting with my family, but I do choose not to pursue “prettifying” things as much as I’d like.

There's never enough time for everything. Since I became a writer my house isn't quite as nice as it used to look. Thanks so much for talking with me.

Before The Season Ends is available at or at

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Gift Of Books

Besides being an author, I’m a social studies teacher at our local high school. A month or so ago, I noticed something very unusual going on in my first period class. I was standing in front of the class discussing feudalism with the kids, but three of the girls weren’t listening to me. Not that they always listen to me, mind you, but these girls weren’t talking. They weren’t passing notes, sleeping, or trying to do their homework before it was due. So, what were they doing? They were reading.

Yes, reading, and yes, it’s a very big deal. The majority of my students say they don’t care for reading. They say it’s boring. Almost, I don’t blame them. If I never read anything but textbooks, I’d think reading was boring too.

Okay, they don’t read. Is that a problem? You bet it is! Many literacy skills don’t get developed including reading comprehension, and let’s face it; people who read understand a whole lot more about what’s going on in the world. They score better on standardized tests too, and of course all of you readers know how reading can enrich your life.

What were the girls reading? Twilight. I asked them if it was good, and you should have heard them carrying on. One of them told me she’d never read an entire book in her life until she started Twilight. She was almost finished with it and already had New Moon ready to read. I was so intrigued I bought a copy of Twilight that very day.

I did like the book, but more importantly it impressed on me the need to provide young people with books they can enjoy, books that’ll make readers of them. So, this Christmas please consider a gift of books for any young adult or child on your list. In the long run it’ll be of more use to them than another sweater or video game.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Victorian Christmas Tree

When we think of Christmas during the Victorian Era, most of us picture a Charles Dickens Christmas complete with a goose or turkey and a Christmas tree, but the English haven’t always had Christmas trees. They were introduced into England in 1841 when Queen Victoria was on the throne. Her husband Prince Albert decorated the first Christmas tree. Albert was from Germany, a place where they’d long used Christmas trees. He decorated a tree for Windsor Castle using candles, candies, and paper chains. The custom spread, and before long all of the English had Christmas trees. So did the Americans.

As time passed, people started to use more elaborate decorations on their trees, including gingerbread men, marzipan candies, hard candies, cookies, fruit, cotton-batting Santas, paper fans, tin soldiers, whistles, wind-up toys, pine cones, dried fruits, nuts, berries, and trinkets of all kinds. They also enjoyed hanging cornucopias filled with sweets, fruit, nuts and popcorn on their trees. Small homemade gifts, such as tiny hand-stitched dolls or children's mittens were also popular. Beautiful angels were the tree toppers of choice, and some families set up a Nativity scene under the tree using moss for grass and mirrors for ponds.

Eventually, people started to use German store bought ornaments which first appeared during the 1860’s. Glass icicles came first followed by hand blown glass globes called kugels. People also liked Dresdens, embossed silver and gold cardboard ornaments in many shapes.

Decorating a Victorian tree today would be pretty simple without investing a great deal of money. Here are a few things I’d do.

1.String popcorn and cranberries to make a garland. The kids should have a great time helping.

2.Shape small paper doilies into cornucopias. Fill with candies of your choice.

3.Recycle old Christmas cards. Cut out shapes you like and attach them to the tree with ribbons to make mock Dresdens.

4.Make or buy small cookies to hang on the tree. You can decorate them with glitter if you like. Hairspray works great as a preservative.

5.Fill small mesh bags with colorful candy and tie them with ribbon.

6.Spray nuts in the shell with gold paint and glue a slender cord to them so they'll hang on the tree.

7.I don’t recommend lighting the candles if you use real ones, but you can buy strings of electric lights in the shape of candles. That sounds a lot safer to me.

8.Don’t forget to fill the tree with small toys. Personally, I’d add some cherubs, another Victorian favorite.

9.Decorative tassels would look beautiful on your tree.

10.Buy some pretty ribbon-Victorians preferred velvet-and shape it into pretty bows or swirls.

11.Fold wrapping paper in the shape of fans and put them on the tree. We used to love making fans when we were kids.

If any of you decide to do a Victorian tree, email me a picture at and I’ll post it on the blog for others to see.

Oh, and the picture that accompanies this post is from an 1841 engraving showing Victoria and Albert and their children.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's Here!

The Best Selling Toy Of The Season is now available at I think it's a great story for Christmas reading because it shows that love can overcome any obstacle, scale any barrier, and happen to anyone-even people who think they probably don't deserve it. And isn't Christms all about love?

Don't forget to check out my web site. I posted a free short story titled Misktaken Identity. Hope you enjoy it.