Ann Acton lives with her husband and children in a tiny town in Washington state. She loves the feeling of Christmas and usually finishes her shopping on Christmas Eve. She is also the author of The Miracle Maker.
Liz Adair, a native of New Mexico and mother of seven, lives in southern Utah with Derrill, her husband of 50 years.
A late bloomer, Liz published her first mystery (The Lodger) just as AARP started sending invitations to join. After writing three in the Spider Latham series, Liz moved into romantic suspense. She feels writing in that genre doing so is a service project. "I remember when I was a young mother with all those kids and a slender budget," she says. "I was so grateful for books that let me go places and meet people who carried on adult conversations That's what I want to write--cheap vacations."
"Amy's Star" brings both Liz and her writing to Kanab, Utah. Look for new Spider Latham mysteries set in Kanab.
Terry Deighton lives in Washington, the state not D.C., with her husband, Al. Their six children are grown and gone, and pets tend to complicate life. When she is not visiting her children and grandchildren, writing and revising, again and again, she works as a substitute teacher. Mr. Goetz in the Tweaks series is wiser and cooler, but he's made up, so it doesn't count. Mrs. Deighton started out to be a high school English teacher, but raising kids turned into a full-time job. During those years, her dream of writing books for young people grew until she had to do something about it. Her Tweaks series is a fulfillment of that dream. Her love of Christmas naturally prompted her to write "Whit's End" in this book and "Just Say No-el," a companion novella to these three stories.
Q & A With Author Liz Adair:
1. Describe yourself in 50 words or less.
I’m 75 on the outside, 39 on the inside. I still think of myself as tall and statuesque, but who is that hefty, swollen-ankled women looking back at me from the full-length mirror? I’m a hearth-tender, but my explorer husband entices me to experience the wonders of the outside world.
2. What do you love most in the world? In all the world, I love family the most. I love the ties that bind generation to generation. I treasure the pictures my heart carries of my little, bird-like grandma, my Auntie-Mame mother, my children as they toddled around my farmhouse kitchen, and the fine people they have become.
3. What do you fear most? I’m afraid of the dark. A vivid imagination is great for writing murder mysteries, but it’s a curse on a moonless night when I’m alone, the power’s out, and something’s creaking in the next room.
4. What is your largest unfulfilled dream, and what are you doing to reach it? The largest of my few unfulfilled dreams is to hit the USA Today best seller list. To reach it, I’m learning to be a savvy marketer. This last year, I hit #1 in the Amazon Bestseller list and stayed there for almost all day, so I’m making progress.
5. What is the hardest thing you've ever done? It may be a little indelicate, but I’ll state this: When I was having children, natural childbirth was the usual path chosen. My last child was breech. ‘Nuff said.
6. Now that we've gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it's yours. What's your story?
This is my Christmas story:
Red Taffeta, by Liz Adair
When I was in the third grade, we moved from southern New Mexico to Wyoming for my father’s work. In the fall, before we knew we were leaving the temperate New Mexico climate, my mother had made me a little black velvet cape for a winter coat. It had a red taffeta lining and was trimmed with a rabbit-fur collar.
The cape was adequate for the first Wyoming autumn months, but then the air turned really cold. The constant wind cut through the two layers of cloth like Mama’s sewing shears, no matter how closely I wrapped the cape around me.
Because of the influx of construction workers, the little housing that was available was very expensive. Our family’s budget didn’t stretch to house rent and a new coat for me.
Two weeks before Christmas, a frigid front swept down from the north, pushed by a howling gale. In spite of the storm, I had talked my parents into taking us to the movies. I can still see the scene in my mind’s eye: we’re getting ready to go. I’m full of anticipation, and I put on my velvet cape. As the wind whistles outside, Mama stands at the door, her hat on and her purse in her hand. She stars at me for a moment, then two, and she seems to be making up her mind about something. “Go get the box from under my bed,” she says.
I feel the hard linoleum of the floor on my knees as I look under the bed and pull out a substantial box, wrapped in Christmas paper. “Bring it in here,” Mama calls from the front room.
I carry it in and set it on the coffee table. “Open it,” she says.
I tear off the paper. There’s no excitement. Christmas is still two weeks away, and this is just strange. I lift the lid and find a winter coat: gray, nondescript, probably woolen. Mama has me put it on, and I wear it to the movies.
That was in 1949. I don’t remember Christmas morning that year. I don’t remember anything else about that gray winter coat. But to this day, I can remember the way that red taffeta lining felt as it rubbed against my bare, eight-year-old arms.
Connect with the Authors here:
These three Christmas novellas will get you into the holiday spirit.
Christmas Gift - Christmas for Amanda Grover is usually a chaotic marathon in search of the perfect gifts. This year, she thinks she's got it all under control—until she's roped into doing service on Christmas Eve. What should be a simple night turns into a series of chaotic events and a gift she never expected.
Amy’s Star: A Spider Latham Christmas Story - A new star rises above the southern Utah town of Kanab and draws some surprising visitors on Christmas Eve.
At Whit’s End - When Whitney Saunders and her husband buy their first home, it jump starts her desire to make everything, especially Christmas, perfect. She soon finds out it’s more work than she thought, and she begins to wonder what perfect really is.
Snippet Amy’s Star:
At the back door, Spider could see Laurie at the table with Amy opposite. They both looked up as he opened the door.
“Hi,” Laurie said. She smiled, but it wasn’t an automatic, come-from-the-heart, Christmas Eve smile. It was a wooden, brave-faced turning up of her lips.
Amy smiled, too. Hers was genuine. Five-hundred-watt incandescent.
“Hello, girls,” Spider said. “How’s it going?”
“Fantastic,” Amy said.
Laurie cleared her throat. “Amy stopped taking her meds.”
“So I heard.” Spider tipped his head, regarding Amy. “Is that wise?”
Amy covered her face. “No. I know it’s not, but listen.” She let her hands slide down, so her eyes were peeking above her fingertips. “I just wanted to feel the Christmas joy. You don’t know what it’s like to have everything—” She made a horizontal motion. “—even out. I want to feel something this Christmas!”
Spider grimaced. He understood what Amy was saying, and right now he hated the responsibility he had inherited. “This thing with President Obama and the Bethlehem star. It wasn’t real, you know.”
Amy stared at Spider, chewing on her lower lip. “The big black limo? The tinted windows going silently down?” She pantomimed the windows lowering. “The man in the back leaning forward and taking my hand, telling me he had this great thing for me to do? You’re saying it wasn’t real?”
Spider nodded. “That’s what I’m saying.”
Amy looked at Laurie. “It was real to me.”
Ten fun facts about Liz Adair
1. I lived in Alaska while it was still a territory.
2. I was born in Hot Springs, New Mexico, but they changed the name of the town to Truth or Consequences.
3. The smell of an outhouse doesn’t repel; it brings back memories of staying with Grandma.
4. I had a small wholesale bakery for 15 years making home-made pies for 22 restaurants.
5. During my ‘Mother Earth’ decade, I learned to make Mozzarella cheese.
6. Also, while doing the ‘Mother Earth’ thing, I delivered a baby burro.
7. I was once fluent in Spanish.
8. I have seven children: four biological and three adopted.
9. I’m an intrepid ATVer.
10. I’ve been married for 53 years.
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