Monthly Archives: December 2016

All I Want for Christmas – Short Story

December 31 is such a strange day of the year. It signifies so much for many of us … an opportunity to look forward and make transformational decisions in the new year, an opportunity to look back over the last 365 days of the year and consider all that happened.

Yet, truthfully, it’s just another twenty-four hour span not unlike any other twenty-four hour period.

I always land on this day with a sense of dread and excited anticipation. It’s a roiling bubble of insanity inside me, let me tell you. Because I know what can happen in a year’s time, my little amygdala (that fear center of the brain) shoots off all sorts of warnings to me regarding things I should worry about and be afraid of.

However, the normal part of me – the part that loves this life I have been given – is excited at the possibilities and potential for the year. And that’s where I tend to focus. Possibilities … potential … hope … joy … excitement. I can hardly wait for what’s to come. And the best part, I can hardly wait for things that I don’t even know are possible! Life is filled with excitement and it is so much fun to find new surprises around corners.

I wish for all of you a joyous and exciting 2017. No matter what comes at us, we are stronger together, we are loved and treasured. We are created beings filled with hope. I take great joy in all of that. And I am thankful for the many friends that I’ve made. You all fill my life with so much goodness. Thank you.

The Christmas short story is here! (Link to Amazon)

A day early.

This story is so much fun and filled with a few surprises of its own. The only thing I ask is that you do not make comments about the content of this story. I know you’re going to want to and you have to refrain. Don’t spoil it for anyone else (I will delete any comment on Facebook or here on the website that contains any HINT of a spoiler). So many things happen here and you are going to love them!

Now that all of my publishing duties are managed, I’m taking the night off. There’s a bottle of pinot grigio in my refrigerator and a batch of Fred Astaire / Esther Williams / Ginger Rogers / Gene Kelly / whoever on and on … movies waiting for me to watch them. It’s going to be a great way to ring in 2017!

While the link on this page takes you to the Kindle version, this story will be published at the end of the paperback – which should go live by Monday, January 2.

Happy New Year!

(P.S. I added a sketch of the Bell House – click HERE to see it)

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Happy Napping Day

Or traveling day or more Christmas or more family or whatever you have going on today.

I decided to drop a newsletter and publish a new book and then go pretty much incommunicado as I traveled for the holiday. I HATE doing things on my phone, so all I could manage while still enjoying the drive, family, gifts, my sister’s pupperdogs, all of that, was maybe looking to see if something happened that was so important I needed to respond. Otherwise, I did nothing online. And that was okay.

Book 16 – Memories for Tomorrow is out! You can get the Kindle edition on Amazon right now at THIS LINK!

The paperback won’t be available until after I get the Christmas short story published and assembled into the manuscript. That’s next week.

Yes, if you thought that once you finished reading Book 16 you had to wait three more months to return to Bellingwood, you were wrong. A twenty thousand word short story that you will LOVE is coming your way January 1st. I’ll announce it on my blog and on the Facebook Bellingwood page.

In other exciting news, I will spend time this week helping my brother finish publishing his next book in his very popular sci fi Privateer Tales series – Blockade Runner. If you haven’t read these stories yet, or his Witchy World series, you need to check them out. Here’s a link to his website where you can get more information.

I had a wonderful Christmas. While I worried a little about traveling in weird weather, the roads were good and the wind was at my back yesterday. Temperatures were reasonable, which meant I didn’t have ice and snow – only rain. Even then, the rain wasn’t too bad … until Max was trying to get things into the Jeep to head to Carol’s house. All of a sudden – out of nowhere – a gully washer hit us and he was soaked to the bone. I drove in it for a short time and wondered how in the world we were going to get all of the bags of things into her house. But by the time we were there, the rain had passed.

Carol always invites a neighbor whose wife spends Christmas with their daughter in Chicago, to dinner on Christmas. He’s a character. A little odd, maybe a little dementia, a bit of a bigot and highly opinionated. At some point, you just sit back and shake your head. Okay, that’s what I did. Max finally had enough and escaped to the living room while Carol tried to figure out how to send the man home so we could open gifts. I just kept talking to him and laughing on the inside. Carol’s so danged gracious and somehow managed to let him know it was time to go home and he believed it was his idea. Man, she’s good.

And she’s an amazing gift giver. I just have to show you two things she gave me. I have a favorite artist. She’s a friend and does beautiful whimsical work. Her pottery is everywhere I am. I love it. You should check out her Etsy page. All of that creativity and she’s an amazing young woman, too! Anyway, Carol asked her to personalize a couple of pieces for me. I might have cried when I saw them.

The cats are sniffing every item I’ve brought back with me. Grey is making sure these are Nammynools approved.

I love the holidays, but when they are over and things begin to head back to normal, I relax again. I’m ready to work now. But first, more cat snuggling. I missed them while I was gone.

Bellingwood Vignette, Book 16, #4

Grey: Get off me. I know it’s cold in here, but you’re too heavy! Earl: Oh come on. Please?

The vignettes that I write are short little snippets that happen in Bellingwood to people other than Polly Giller. It’s fun to write from a perspective other than Polly and to take a little peek into our favorite character’s lives.

Today’s vignette is just, plain fun. While I’ve written it in the middle of the process of publishing Book 16, this conversation could have happened any time between these women, so you won’t spoil a thing by reading it.

In fact, I want everyone to participate in this story. There’s a question I have for you once you read the story. Your response will enter you in a giveaway for one of four signed paperbacks of Book 16 – Memories for Tomorrow.

My preference is that you respond on the Bellingwood Facebook page, but if you can’t, go ahead and post a comment here.

Okay – here you go. Read through to the end for the question.

The Body Electric

She wasn’t expecting anyone this morning, so when Andy’s doorbell rang, she dragged herself away from the book she’d been lost in and dashed through the house to the front door.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, not even bothering to wonder why her best friend was leaning against the storm door, her hands and feet splayed out to the door frame. There was no telling what that woman might do next.

“I’m bored.” Beryl said. She stepped back so Andy could open the door and gestured down at herself. “I have my ‘I’m bored’ clothes on. You have to entertain me before I completely lose my mind.” She knelt on Andy’s threshold. “Help me, Andy-kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

Her ‘I’m bored’ clothes consisted of tight yoga pants in wild galactic colors and a flimsy, flowy, knee-length tunic with crazy flowers all over. She had a hot pink floppy hat on and matching flip flops.

“Your wardrobe might make me lose my mind,” Andy retorted. “Get in here before anyone sees you.” She reached down to help Beryl stand back up.

Beryl spun around in Andy’s foyer. “You don’t like?”

“I like. You’re just a little too electric. Why are you bored? Just last night you said that you had enough work to keep you busy until after Christmas.”

“That was last night. Today I’m bored.”

“Come on in,” Andy said. “I was quietly reading on the back deck. Apparently, I’m finished with that today.”

“Oh joy,” Beryl said. “I’m bored and you’re boring. How are you supposed to help me now?”

“I’ll make coffee and feed you coffee cake. Will that help?”

Beryl flounced along behind Andy, flopping her feet loudly on the floor. “If that’s all you’ve got, I guess I’ll have to suffer. We should go somewhere fun. Do something exciting. Go out and be someone other than ourselves. Please?”

Andy took two matching mugs from the cupboard. “I have to be at the library at one. There’s no time to go anywhere.”

“That gives us three hours. We could be hula dancers or boatswains in three hours.”

“Boatswains ?” Andy asked. “Where are you going to find a ship that needs two old ladies to do that job?”

“I don’t know,” Beryl retorted petulantly. “It was just an idea. Better than your idea.” She pointed at the coffee pot. “Coffee and cake? How boring are you?”

The doorbell rang again and Andy looked at Beryl. “Now what?”

Beryl pulled her shoulders up to her ears. “How would I know?” She gave Andy an ornery grin.

“What did you do?”

“Nothing much. Got more of that coffee cake?”

Andy pushed past her friend and went to the front door.

When she came back into the dining room, Lydia followed, carrying a bag and cup carrier from Sweet Beans.

“I have your favorites,” Lydia said. “And some croissants. They just came out when I got there.”

Beryl looked back and forth from the coffee cake on the counter to Lydia’s bag. “Can I have both?”

Lydia looked Beryl up and down. “What are you dressed for?”

“Apparently that’s her ‘I’m bored’ look,” Andy said. “You two head out to the deck and I’ll bring plates and napkins. So much for a quiet morning of reading.”

“Are you really complaining again about that?” Beryl asked. “Why wouldn’t you rather spend time with your friends?”

“We were just together last night. Now go, make yourself comfortable. I’ll be right out.”

Beryl opened the sliding glass door to the deck. “I think she’s mad at me,” she announced to Lydia, loud enough so Andy could hear. She promptly closed the door to eliminate the possibility of a response.

“She’s not mad,” Lydia said. “She’s never mad. We just disrupted her morning and she needs some time to assimilate it .” Lydia waved her hand at Beryl. “And look at you. Who could be mad at that? You’re a party.”

“I am, aren’t I?” Beryl replied. She floofed out her tunic. “I didn’t think I’d ever find an opportunity to wear this. Picked it up from a street vendor in New York a few years ago. Who’d have thought I’d ever find a good time to wear it in Bellingwood, but here I am, wearing it like a rockstar.”

“From one of the eighties hair bands, right?” Lydia asked, laughing at her friend.

“I’m not wearing a hair band, I’m wearing a hat.” Beryl winked at Lydia. She waggled her hand. “Are you planning to share that coffee or do I need to sit on your lap and beg for it?”

Lydia let out an “oomph” when Beryl dropped into her lap, but promptly wrapped her arm around the woman and kissed Beryl’s cheek. “I love you too, you nut.”

They both looked up when Andy coughed in the doorway.

“What are you two doing? What will the neighbors say?”

Beryl pointed at the cemetery behind Andy’s house. “That we’re having more fun than they are. Do you want to join me here? I can make room.” She scooted around until she was perched on one of Lydia’s legs. “You can have the other leg.”

“You’re my friend and I love you,” Andy muttered as she set plates down on the table. She sat down opposite the two women and opened the bag of croissants, then looked at them. “Is that how you’re spending the morning?”

Beryl craned her neck to look at Lydia. “I’m good. You?”

“Get up. You may be the skinniest thing I’ve ever seen, but your hiney is boney.”

“Fine then.” Beryl moved to the chair between Andy and Lydia and put her hand out. “I’d best start drinking down some of that coffee, then.”

“Because?” Lydia asked.

“Because my friends are old fuddy duddies and … well, I just need coffee.”

“I’m not a fuddy …” Andy started. Then she looked at Lydia. “I really am, aren’t I.”

Lydia chuckled. “Compared to this one, we’re the queens of fuddy duddy.” She handed Beryl a cup of coffee and then put her hand on Beryl’s arm. “Why are you so bored, dear? After what you said last night, I didn’t think we’d be seeing you for weeks.”

“I went out to my studio last night and stood in the middle of the room trying to figure out which project to work on. I was so overwhelmed, I walked out, went inside and went to bed. That usually helps. I use the time before I fall asleep and before I get out of bed to let my mind loose. Something always shows up and nothing arrived,” Beryl said. “I need help.”

“It will come,” Lydia said. “You do this all the time. All you really need is to relax.”

“That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?” Andy asked. “I’m sorry I gave you trouble about showing up.”

“Ahhh, no,” Beryl snapped. “No getting all sweet and sentimental on me.”

Andy pushed a plate in front of Beryl. “Then what in the hell do you want from us?”

“That,” Beryl said, pointing at Andy. “Sass and trouble. I’m feeling so owly, I just want to do something crazy.” She sat forward. “I want a tattoo.”

“You want a what?” Andy asked.

“You heard me. I want to get a tattoo. My mother told me that I couldn’t have one, that only bad girls had tattoos. I want to be a bad girl.”

“That isn’t the way it is these days,” Lydia said. “Both of my younger girls have tattoos. In fact, Sandy has a few. She loves ’em.”

Andy nodded. “Mel has a frog on her ankle. But that’s the last thing I want.”

“It’s what I want to do,” Beryl said.

“Put someone else’s artwork on your body?” Lydia asked.

Beryl cackled. “I’m certainly not putting one of my paintings on this canvas.” She slowly swept her hand down her torso. “It might be skinny, but it would hurt like hell to put something I painted on here. No, I want something fun. Maybe on my boob.” She cackled again. “Oh, how I love the idea of making some poor young man tattoo my old lady boob. I’m doing it.”

“I’d like to,” Lydia said very quietly.

“You?” Andy asked, her eyes huge.

“Yeah. My mother wouldn’t let me do it either, but I’ve always kind of secretly thought it would be fun. That’s why when Jill asked me if she could do it when she was in college, I just said yes. She’d done her research and found a reputable tattoo parlor. It was her money and something she really wanted. How could I say no?”

“You’ll do this with me?” Beryl asked. “Really?”

“Sure.”

The two women looked at Andy.

“No way,” she said, putting up her hands. “No freakin’ way.” She pointed at Lydia. “What will Aaron say?”

Lydia waggled her eyebrows and grinned. “Maybe I’ll put it somewhere that he won’t see until he’s thinking of other things.”

“No, no, no, no, no,” Beryl said, laughing as she put her hands over her ears. “Please don’t do that to me when I’m eating. I’m going to choke.”

“There,” Lydia said. “Are you more relaxed?”

Beryl nodded. “Much more. I think I know what my next piece is going to look like. Thank you.”

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Question: What tattoos do you think Beryl and Lydia should get? If you find a picture, post it in the comment, otherwise, just tell me the description. They won’t get matching tattoos, I can guarantee that. But you know them as well as anyone, what do you think?

Write a comment under this blog’s post on the FB Bellingwood page. I won’t respond to random posts on the page itself. Look for this blogpost. If you aren’t on Facebook, you can respond here with a comment.

This ends Sunday evening (12/18) around 7 pm when I will choose four winners from the comments. The choice of winners will be random, not which tattoos are my favorites and you won’t know about the tattoos until Book 17 (March 25th). I’m mean. I know, but I’m not re-writing Book 16 at this point.

If you are a winner, I will assume that you want a copy of Book 16 when it is published. If you’d rather have a different book, just let me know.

Entrants release Facebook of any responsibility and this promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

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Random Holiday Craziness

This last month has been absolutely wild. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but whoa!

It always feels strange to hit the other side of a holiday. There is so much anticipation and preparation, then it happens and we move on to the next thing. Thanksgiving was just yesterday, right?

But yes, I’m madly thinking about Christmas now. I have to tell you, it’s a good thing I began planning for it last January. I’m still going to be pushing it in my attempt to get everything accomplished. And again … wouldn’t have it any other way.

Not only because I’m celebrating the joy of Christ’s birth, but Book 16’s publication date happens on December 25th. Can you hardly believe it’s nearly here? Whee!

Don’t forget, a short story will be available on January 1st. Hmm, I should probably figure out what I’m going to title that story. I already have the cover image though, so that’s a good thing.

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Postcard glimpse

A little fun for you. I would love to send you a Christmas postcard, but will never presume to keep your address. If you’d like to receive a postcard from me (and the kitty-kiddos), all you have to do is send an email to nammynools (@) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form on the website (that drops it right into my email).

Tell me what your physical mailing address is and I will send you a postcard. Easy as that. And yes, I will send these postcards internationally as long as my little post office has postage (heh, you think I’m kidding).

If you regularly order a paperback copy from me, you will automatically receive a postcard.

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This last week, I’ve been head-down while editing my brother’s next book. Jamie McFarlane writes in several genres. The next book (Blockade Runner) is part of his Sci Fi / Space Adventure series – Privateer Tales and will be published right after the new year. Jamie writes amazing action scenes. No matter how many times I read them, I get into the middle of some of those scenes and find that I’m breathing too quickly and am really agitated. It’s fabulous.

He also writes a paranormal series – Witchy World and is just starting the third book in that series. Check out his website at fickledragon.com for more information.

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I’m going to miss our pre-publication Wine & Trivia night this month. Sadly, there’s no way I could manage one of those in December. They’re crazy enough in the months without a major holiday. However, I plan to do a few giveaways on the Facebook page as December 25 approaches. Stay tuned!

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I keep the place pretty cool. Earl and Grey stick close to each other for warmth … well, and love, too.

Keep an eye out this weekend. I’ve been editing so many things these last few weeks, that  actual writing has taken a back seat. My Bellingwood-ians aren’t terribly fond of that behavior and have let me know there needs to be another vignette.

Now if you are still catching up to Book 16, there might some spoilers in the vignettes, but mainly just characters that you’ve not yet met … or relationships that developed and flourished along the way. Otherwise, I try to never give away any large plot points.

Vignettes are written from the point of view of characters other than Polly, allowing us to get to know some of the people that she interacts with in Bellingwood. I began writing these at Book 9 and within a month of a book’s publication, the vignettes are collected and published on Amazon as well. You don’t have to miss a thing.

Email newsletters go out to subscribers on the twenty-fifth (25th) of every month. Along with major book announcements, etc., there is always a short vignette. Make sure you’ve signed up for the newsletter so you don’t miss a thing.

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