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


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Let's Get Christmassy with ... Isabella May



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

Isabella May


Hello Isabella




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

I'm Isabella May. My debut novel, 'Oh! What a Pavlova' was published in October, and novel number two: 'The Cocktail Bar' is released on February 13th!





What is your favourite Christmas memory?

I have so many, as I am sure most people do. Aside from the buzz that was decorating the tree as a child, it would have to be the Christmas plays me and my sister put on for my mum, dad and two nans, who would always stay with us for Christmas. We'd rehearse and rehearse and then end up in hysterics and make everyone sit through our recorder playing peppered with laughing fits and assurances that 'this time we will do it seriously!' Fun times. I also loved seeing some of the weird and wonderful gifts my nan's were given from their elderly friends: a pin up perm in a box, some rubber gloves, hair spray, and best of all, a straight exchange of a Terry's Chocolate Orange... for another Terry's Chocolate Orange. You couldn't make it up! Oh, and I swear Quality Streets and Roses tins were at least twice the size in those days...



What is your favourite Christmas food?

My nan's Christmas pudding. Homemade, delicious and so very, very missed.



What is your favourite Christmas song?

I love all of the Christmas carols and I really miss that side of the festivities now we live in Spain. I'm not so keen on the cheesy Christmas pop songs though. It's high time someone released some better replacements!



What is your favourite Christmas photo? Why?

My children's annual snowy fake background photo from school. They always scrub up so well on the day, despite the lack of school uniform (we live in Spain) and it's a cute, festive touch which momentarily makes me pine for home and all things British and Christmassy!


You can find Isabella on all these links..

Twitter - @IsabellaMayBks
Instagram - @isabella_may_author




Please come back tomorrow to find out what makes Terri Nixon Christmas Christmassy


Monday, 4 December 2017

Let's Get Christmassy with ... Phoebe Morgan



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

Phoebe Morgan


Hello Phoebe

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



Hi Pauline! I’m a writer, and my first book, The Doll House, published in September 2017 which has been really exciting! I’m also a commissioning editor in a big five publishing house, so I get to see both sides of the process which is fascinating. And of course, I like to read – my job involves a huge amount of reading so it’s how I spend most of my time!


What is your favourite Christmas memory?

Ooh, my favourite Christmas memory is probably of looking out of the bedroom window with my two younger brothers, desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa! I remember us pulling back the curtains and peeking out, imagining we could see the bright lights of his sleigh and hear the jingle of the reindeer… We used to all three share a bedroom so Christmas Eve was the most exciting night of the year, and then we’d all be up at 6am ready to bounce downstairs and open presents.


What is your favourite Christmas food?

Roast parsnips! We usually have a vegetarian Christmas so I love nut roast as well, and the best thing about it is that you can carry on eating it for days! I’ve never been a fan of Christmas pudding or cake, but I do love pulling the marzipan off and nibbling on that! My grandma always makes her own mince pies, too, which are delicious.



What is your favourite Christmas song?

It’s probably In the Bleak Mid-Winter, which sounds a tad depressing but I actually think it’s a really beautiful song. I love the image of ‘snow on snow’ and it always makes me feel really peaceful. I’m not a religious person but there’s something  magical and so lovely about singing carols in a church. I also have to confess to loving Last Christmas by Wham!


What is your favourite Christmas photo? Please tell us why



My favourite Christmas photo is of brother carrying a Christmas tree in Islington, London – this was when we were living together last Christmas which was a really lovely time. We got a little tree and decorated it – and then I accidentally knocked it all over!



You can find Phoebe at all these place too...


Twitter: Phoebe_A_Morgan
Instagram: phoebeannmorgan
Blog about writing and publishing: www.phoebemorganauthor.com
My debut novel: The Doll House




Please come back tomorrow to find out what makes Isabella May Christmas Christmassy


Sunday, 3 December 2017

Let’s Get Christmassy…with Carol Warham



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

Carol Warham

Hello Carol

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



Hi Pauline. I’m an author. My debut novel, Resolutions, was released on August 9th 2017, so I’m very new to this.
I’ve written since I was a small child, when I used to make comics for my dolls and my friends.  As the family grew, writing went on a back burner, but in recent years I’ve had a few successes with it. I’ve had short stories, travel articles and poetry published, so a few years ago I decided to have a go at writing a novel, Resolutions is the result.

I live with my husband, and our dog Sam, in a small Yorkshire village. Both my daughters and grandchildren live close by, so I’m very lucky.



What is your favourite Christmas memory?



I think every Christmas has a special memory, particularly as we always celebrated as a family.
However one Christmas will always be a favourite memory. About fifteen years ago, we lost my father in law, he was missed greatly. My mother in law was struggling to deal with her loss and we decided we had to do something different for Christmas, otherwise the gap at the table would have seemed enormous.
We booked for the three of us to spend Christmas in an Austrian castle. It was everything you may imagine.  The scenery was stunning and Christmas was magical.



What is your favourite Christmas food?


Roast potatoes and roast parsnips!  We always have a very traditional Christmas meal, turkey with all the trimmings, and I love roasties.



What is your favourite Christmas song?


I’m not a lover of Christmas Carols particularly (despite my name!) although I do enjoy listening to Carols from Kings.  One particular song I do enjoy is the lovely David Essex singing Just Another Winter’s Tale.



What is your favourite Christmas photo? Please tell us why



As with most families we take hundreds of photos at Christmas time. However I must return to the Austrian Christmas for a favourite photo.  Mum in Law loved being there and after a traumatic time for her it was lovely to see a smile on her face again.



You can find Carol at all these places ....








Please come back tomorrow to find out what makes Phoebe Morgan Christmas Christmassy


Saturday, 2 December 2017

Let’s Get Christmassy…with Daisy James



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

Daisy James

Hello Daisy

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

Hi Pauline,
Thank you so much for inviting me to be part of your blog #ItsChristmas blog blitz! It’s wonderful to be a part of it. So, I’m an author of six novels in the contemporary romance genre, the most recent being Christmas at The Dancing Duck, a fun festive read set in the village of Cranbury.




What is your favourite Christmas memory?

Like many of people, Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I have lots of wonderful memories, from my own childhood and from my son’s childhood. If I had to choose one, then it would have to be our Christmas trip to Disney World in Florida ten years ago. The decorations were amazing, the lights were stunning, not to mention the food. But the best bit was seeing all the characters dressed in their festive costumes, and the look on my son’s face when he realised he could actually have his photograph taken with them! I treasure these photos and don’t mind admitting that I get the album out regularly.



What is your favourite Christmas food?



I’m a huge fan of cake in all its guises and Christmas cake is no exception. One of my favourite recipes is a rich gingerbread made with treacle, and finished off with tangy lemon icing. What do you think?



What is your favourite Christmas song?

I love ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ by Wizzard. It’s so jolly and upbeat and I love singing along to the lyrics. I also love ‘Driving Home For Christmas’ by Chris Rea because it reminds me of doing just that, and the tingle of excitement when you’ve almost arrived back in your home town.



What is your favourite Christmas photo? Please tell us why



It absolutely has to be the one of us all with our Mickey/Minnie Christmas hats on standing next to the mouse himself in Magic Kingdom with Cinderella’s Castle lit up in the background. Also, I do try to make our Christmas tree look as spectacular as possible every year, but often it has lots of mismatched decorations that have been hand-made over the years. This is a photo I took before those tiny works of art were added, but I do admit that the final version was better!


I love connecting on social media:



And I’m on Instagram too.

  
A huge thank you to Pauline for inviting me to share my Christmas memories on her blog, and a merry Christmas and a happy new year to everyone.

Warmest wishes,

Daisy
 


Please come back tomorrow to find out what makes Carol Warham Christmas Christmassy