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Enchanting Yuletide Q&A

Enchanting Yuletide: Questions and Answers

Although Hanukkah is over, and tonight marks the Winter Solstice, we still have Christmas and Kwanzaa to look forward to! Plenty of time to get in the holiday spirit by picking up the Enchanting Yuletide anthology featuring six lovely authors!

Questions&Answers

Barbara Lieberman
Barbara Lieberman is the author of fictional works including The Treasure of Ravenwood: A Fairy Tale, To Miss the Stars, The McEwen Series (including Message on the Wind and To Reap a Whirlwind), Ben’s Little Acorn, Why Does the Moon Follow Me? and Love in the Middle. She is also a contributing author in three anthologies: A Horde of Dragons, The Playlist, and Enchanting Yuletide. In addition, Barbara has offered her own experiences and advice in the non-fiction work The Unchained Spirit and the life guide based upon that book, Unchaining Your Spirit. Barbara is also a partner in Pipe and Thimble Bookstore and Publishing Company, with her daughter and partner Ellie Lieberman (an author in her own right, as well as being a talented artist/illustrator). Barb is also an avid artisan, often needle felting, painting, and gardening!

Q: “Winter is a time for telling stories to see us through the longest darkest nights of the year” This is such an amazing and brilliant line! Why do you think it is that stories with a bit more depth seem to be better suited for winter? A remnant of times where electronics weren’t available for entertainment in the early evenings? The coziness of having everyone at home and bundled together?
A: I do think that we have some ancestral memory of telling tales to entertain and educate through the dark, long winter nights. Oral storytelling is a winter tradition in many indigenous cultures, and one I think we all still connect with. Books, movies, videos… these are all storytelling as well, because we never stop longing for those connections. And, yes, there is an inherent coziness to winter storytelling, like it sweetens the night and warms you on the inside the way a cup of hot chocolate does.

Q: The theme of your story is the importance of love – between family and friends. Is this what you consider to be at the crux of holidays in general — the love bringing friends and family together rather than the specific religious rituals holidays can entail?
A: For me, yes, it is the gathering of loved ones, whether blood kin or heart kin. It is in the traditions (again, shared through storytelling) that we share and new ones we create. That love and those traditions are anchors that hold us safe through the rest of the year.

Q: Do you have a favorite Winter Holiday tradition? If so, could you share it with us?
A: My favorite tradition is made up of several… the setting up of the tree and the placement of that first precious star ornament that was on the trees my family had when I was growing up. The telling of each story associated with each subsequent ornament placed. New ornaments given each year. The sharing of those stories with new people in our lives. And, then, new pajamas when we hang our stockings on Christmas Eve. My parents live on in such moments, are there with us, as are distant friends and family. Even if there are just two of us there, the room is filled with the love of all we know.

Ellie Lieberman

Ellie Lieberman
A New Jersey transplant, Ellie Lieberman lives now in sunny Southern California. She works with the fairies on her handmade business, Acorn Tops, when not writing. An avid reader with a bedroom that looks like a mini library, Ellie is a lover of all things purple, basset hound, squirrel, and milk chocolate, with a slight fried rice obsession.
She is the author of two YA books, Society’s Foundlings and Solving for X, short stories in three anthologies, a children’s book, and the illustrator of a number of other children’s books, as well as being co-proprietor with her mother, who is an amazing author as well, of Pipe & Thimble, an indie-only bookstore.

Q: This was so wonderfully written and just completely heart wrenching! You perfectly encapsulated the disconnect between knowing with your head and knowing with your heart. Do you find it is possible to maintain a sense of wonder and innocence alongside a critical or rational mind?
A: Thank you so much. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I want to say yes, it is possible to maintain a sense of wonder and innocence alongside a rational mind. I think that’s part of the beauty of being a writer or story teller. You reveal truth in a way that can seem like magic. Outside of the pen and paper, I think it’s difficult to achieve both keeping your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds, but balance is important. I think it, ultimately, goes back to the idea of root and wings. Stories, like those told through the ornaments offer a foundation, while the way it’s told allows for the magic of the moment to sweep you into the story itself.

Q: “Never underestimate the magic of a memory. A life full of great memories is a rich one. Even those that hurt so deeply have something worth remembering.” This is an incredible notion so heavy with meaning. It seems the older we get, the more our memories are tinged with loss as well as joy, and it is never felt stronger than during the holidays. Was this story written not just as a reminder to keep the wonder in your life as you grow older, but also as a way to reach out to those that do experience loss during the Winter Holiday season? That it is hard, but okay?
A: That’s really good! I like that! John Green always said books were a collaboration between authors and readers. This is where the reader takes over. I wish I could say it was my intention, but it was more about life in general for me while I was writing it, then specifically memories when we’re older or loss during the holidays.I am fortunate to be surrounded by three women, in particular, who along with a number of other strengths tend to find the light in the darkest moments.
When my mother talks about being in a wheel chair for eight years, one of the things she always mentions is how it brought us closer to our grandparents, how they were in our lives everyday because of it. My grandfather grew up with a father who was an alcoholic. His response was to be a better father to his own kids than his father ever was to him. There are lessons to be learned in every aspect of life.
And, there is also an aspect of loss, as you pointed out. I lost my grandparents when I was six. There are moments it still hurts to think they are not here. But, I’d rather have the hurt of feeling that loss, then chose to try to forget the happiness we shared and why that loss hurts the way it does.

Q: Do you have a favorite Winter Holiday tradition? If so, could you share it with us?
A: The holidays are so steeped in tradition for me, it is difficult to chose just one. I suppose after reading the story, it would come as no surprise that ornaments are probably one of my favorites. When each grandchild was born, my Pop-Pop gave my grandmother a “Baby’s First” ornament. Every year after, we received at least one ornament that had something to do with who we are, an achievement, an interest, a place we visited, etc. As my grandparents passed away, we inherited some of their ornaments, too. What we have now, is a tree very full of memories. As we decorate the tree up, we tell the stories behind each one. And, as our family grows, we include others in this tradition, as well.
My grandmom’s gold and red sparkly star, however, is always the first one on the tree and always front and center.

Raven Williams
A prolific writer, Raven began her career in 2010, first with a blog, next with non-fiction, then finally moving to fiction in 2014, when she began Elven-Jumper, the first book in the Realm Jumper Chronicles. Now, she has twelve stories published in that epic fantasy series with more planned, as well as two stories in a new series, Raven’s Twisted Classics, and a
standalone paranormal story, Witch Hunters’ Society.
When Raven is not writing, she is creating art in the form of jewelry pieces that tie into her stories, fractal designs, and abstract paintings. She is also a caregiver for a disabled family
member and two cats. She physically resides in the Northwest Florida Panhandle, but spends most of her time mentally in the Mystic Realms. Will you join her?

Q: Where did the inspiration for Raven’s Gate and Elven Brothers come from? (I’m presuming that this short might be an excerpt or prelude to one)
A: My first epic fantasy series is Realm Jumper Chronicles. In the process of writing that series, I found shorter stories popping up. Solstice Magic, my contribution to Enchanting Yuletide is one of those stories, telling the origins of the Ancient Witch Line I allude to in the Realm Jumper Chronicles novels as well as the subsequent dark paranormal story, Witch Hunters’ Society.
Raven’s Gate will eventually be a follow-up to Solstice Magic, following the first coven of witches as they continue their journey into magic. Events in both Solstice Magic and Raven’s Gate will tie into the Elven Brothers stories which follow Elwyndon and Elwyndyn, characters introduced in the Realm Jumper Chronicles, as they and the other Elves come to Earth from their home realm and spend quite a few years on Earth, before returning to their home realm of Paer-Jhysael.
As to when the Elven Brothers and Raven’s Gate stories will be written and released, I don’t know yet, as I’m currently hard at work on a new paranormal series, Demon Stones Saga, which follows the descendants of the Ancient Witch Line on another epic adventure.

Q: In your story, the religious rituals take on a greater sense of importance. Are holidays a time where one should make the concerted effort into observing traditions (be they religious or otherwise) they would otherwise be lax about in their daily lives?
A: In my fantasy stories, the Elves are quite consistent in observing the cycles of nature. They do this with simple rituals at various points in the year. For them, to not observe these sacred times is unheard of. When Valael took on the task of teaching the humans with magical abilities, she strove to ensure the humans also honor nature through these particular rituals.
However, as time goes on and the Elves return to their home world, the humans revamp the rituals and observances given to them by Valael, making them their own. Some continue to adhere to their spiritual practices diligently, while others become lax, and still others turn their back on the original teachings all together and embrace something much darker. The details of this will be shared in future stories.

Q: Do you have a favorite Winter Holiday tradition? If so, could you share it with us?
A: I love holiday lights. I love the twinkling colors. Even at times when I can’t or don’t decorate a tree, I will still put up lights. In fact, whenever possible, I’ll leave them up year-round. I also love evergreen-scented candles. There’s something about the scent of evergreen that really drives home the season. For me, it’s not Yule without evergreen scents.

Enchanting Yuletide Q&A

Enchanting Yuletide: Questions and Answers

After reading the Enchanting Yuletide anthology, I absolutely needed to get in contact with the authors to know more about their wonderful stories. Luckily enough, I was able to get a hold of them and ask them a few questions! Enjoy a deeper look into these first THREE of these fantastic winter/holiday tales and authors, and be sure to check back tomorrow to read more!

Questions&Answers

Jena BaxterJena Baxter
A prolific writer, Jena Baxter creates characters with depth and stories filled with action, emotion, and a little bit of romance. She loves building fantastical worlds and cultures.
Living in Northern California with her husband, Jena enjoys soapmaking, her pets, and writer’s conferences. She also reads for a screenwriting contest on an annual basis.

Q – Where did the idea of making Father Time, Santa Claus, and Death siblings come from?
A – I’ve always wanted to write a story about Father Time. I used to collect Father Christmas statues, and always thought Father Time and the old Father Christmas images could almost be the same person. Brothers seemed like a good answer to that. Since the Grimm Reaper is also an immortal sort of existence, he fit better into the equation that I initially thought.
Q – The choice to have Time and Death as rivals of a sort is interesting. Why set up that rivalry (in Time’s mind at least)? Was it from a feeling of Death cheats people out time kind of situation?
A – I try to incorporate emotion into my stories. I might write numerous times to create a period or moment of sadness. But, I feel like humor, laughter, and happiness, are also an important part of our emotional make-up. So, I was contemplating where that could fit that into a story where the plot was based on tragedy. Since Death was part of the equation, having the Grimm Reaper would add an interesting mix. I wasn’t sure how that would play out at first, but as I started writing, the two characters were getting more and more snippety with each other. As it escalated I thought it was perfect.
Father Time does his job and takes it seriously, but he thinks Grimm is a lazy loser who has everyone else doing his job for him. This craused the resentment that created the clash between them.
Q – Family togetherness played a big part in your short, is that something you tend to hold dear during the winter holiday season?
A – My best Christmas’ were years ago when the whole family gathered. We were by no means a functional group, but once a year we managed to let bygones be bygones. I miss that. I’ve often said that no matter what someone believes, the holidays are good, because they bring families together if even for a short time.
Q – What is your favorite Winter Holiday tradition?
A – Every year my husband and I connect with friends. We stop at Starbucks for coffee or cocoa, and spend the evening hunting for the best Christmas lights and displays.
Thank you so much for reading our stories.

CK Brewer

CK Brewer
C. K. Brewer is a native Montanan living in Washington State with her husband and three profoundly gifted children – who also are extremely advanced readers. She noted when her eldest was entering third grade a full year younger than the rest of herclassmates, that the stories her daughter could comprehend easily were whollyunacceptable in terms of content. By the time her third child began displaying the same capability with his reading, C. K. was frustrated by the lack of entertaining books with acceptable content for advanced readers.
Taking matters into her own hands, C. K., with the help of her three children, began writing a fantasy series that is set in a world based on the map her eldest drew and filled with creatures imagined by her two sons. As it has been a labor of love, it has been a long process in which C. K. hopes to see come to fruition in March of 2018 with the publication of the first book of the Royal Velanian Series, DragonStar. C. K. has, at this time one novella which is a history of Velania story that is included in the Enchanting Yuletide Anthology.

Q: The world you created in Deep Winter Fire seemed like there was much more to it than we were able to read. Is this something written specifically for the anthology, or do you have plans to possibly expand on it/the world in the future?
A: The world, Velania, was created by my eldest child and myself for a series of books that I began writing years ago when she was still in middle school (she graduates from
high school in the spring of 2018). I began writing the series in response to the lack of reading material for the young advanced readers as I have three children who read an average of 3 – 4 grade levels higher than their actual grade in school and the content is utterly unacceptable for many children who read like mine do.
Deep Winter Fire is actually a history story of Velania that is touched on in DragonStar, the first of the series. This series picks up many generations after Deep Winter Fire takes place. I have plans to publish DragonStar around the end of March 2018 and will eventually write the rest of the series as well as all of the short history stories like Deep Winter Fire.
Q: The future belonging to a group of 4 human siblings is reminiscent of the Narnian Kings and Queens. Was there any inspiration there or simply coincidence? Do you feel that humans would be the natural evolutionary choice for magic/society in a fantasy world?
A: A small spoiler: The future of Velania is sadly narrowed to three human siblings. Among the history shorts that are planned, there will be the telling of the female sibling passing into the Etherworld before seeing the end of her first year. This event will shape the way Velania is ruled and how the Magic weaves itself into a new path.
It is only by coincidence that Deep Winter Fire has Narian similarities. But I’m sure in some way in the back of my mind, all of the Velanian stories are inspired by the high fantasy that I have loved since my own childhood such as the Chronicles of Narnia, The Dragonlance Saga, and so many others.
As to a natural evolutionary choice… in my world of Velania, yes. I think perhaps, subconsciously, most authors naturally revert to humans as the future of their fantasy
worlds in hope that humans will figure out how to work together and save the real life world they live in.
Q: Do you have a favorite Winter Holiday tradition? If so, could you share it with us?
A: Winter time, historically, is a difficult time for me personally so I tend to avoid most holiday trappings. If I had to put a specific tradition into a spotlight, I’d have to say the
“Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” that we enjoy on Thanksgiving Day. We, as a family, watch the Macy’s parade then spend the bulk of the remainder of the day binging on Holiday movies (both animated and action packed – Son-in- Law is, in our family, a Thanksgiving movie and Die Hard is a Christmas movie) and eating snack foods similar to those in the Charles Schultz Thanksgiving cartoon. It’s usually a day of snuggling and giggles so that is always a good day for me.

Guy DonovanGuy Donovan
In the 1990s and 2000s, I worked in both television and feature films as an animator and storyboard artist/designer for Marvel Films, Hanna-Barbera, Sony
Pictures, DreamWorks SKG, and Warner Bros Feature Animation, among others.

Now I work a government job in North Dakota in return for a steady paycheck and job security, allowing me to continue my wasteful habits of eating and providing
for my family.
Creatively starved by my job, I turned to writing at the advice of my wife, a fellow Hollywood expatriate who writes both screenplays and novels. That led to my
current obsession with 5th century Wales, which is the setting of my Dragon’s Treasure Series. The first three novels, The Forgotten Princess of Môna, A Cold, White
Home, and Songs of Autumn are currently available as e-books for the Kindle. The final installment, Memories so Distant and Brief, will follow in winter of 2018.

Q: How does Santa deal with boredom and the monotony of basically doing the same thing for hundreds of years? Is it the cider?
A: The cider certainly helps! Otherwise, I guess like so many senior citizens, Kringle finds a certain amount of comfort in repetition. I mean let’s face it, none of his
old school chums are still above ground, and I can only assume that he and Jessie are, umm…beyond a more youthful intimacy at their ages, so with travel being a
given for at least one night a year, what’s left? Honestly, I sort of envisioned Tempest Fugit’s Santa as a milder version of Clint Eastwood’s character from Gran
Torino—only without the M1 Garand and with a sleigh instead of a car. In fact, now I think of it, the elves could even be sort of Hmong-ish. Oh-kaaay…I’ll quit with
the analogy there before I get myself into trouble.

Q: While Stuckey is more open to new things, particularly tech, Santa seems resistant to it. How would you upgrade his schtick?
A: Well for one thing, those ridiculous fur accents have to go! He is a saint, right? Given his usual riding position in relation to those eight reindeer of his, it only
makes sense that he would at least make a token effort to appear interested in animal rights. The consequences of seeming even a little cavalier could get—messy. So
basically, I’m thinking that going with some nice faux fur accents on a big, red, Gore-Tex suit would be a great start. Beyond that, the sleigh is a classic, so that
definitely stays, but perhaps some ground effect lighting underneath it would add a modern touch. Plus, it might help with fog in the post-Rudolph era.

Q: What is your favorite Holiday tradition?
A: Easy, watching old Christmas specials with my wife and daughter while stuffing ourselves silly with pumpkin pie and eggnog. The simple pleasures are really the
best.

Come on back tomorrow as I interview Barbara Lieberman, Ellie Lieberman, and Raven Williams on their delightful holiday stories in Enchanting Yuletide!

Enchanting Yuletide

Enchanting Yuletide

 

Enchanting Yuletide
by Jena Baxter, CK Brewer, Guy Donovan, Barbara Lieberman, Ellie Lieberman, Raven Williams

Six stories of the holiday season, guaranteed to put you in a festive mood. So, grab your hot chocolate and snuggle up to experience the season as you’ve never done before. After all, tis the Season for Magic!

Rated: ★★★★
Publisher:  Pipe & Thimble
Publication: November 15, 2017
Genre: Holiday, Christmas, Fantasy
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

amazon | b&n | book depo

Enchanting Yuletide

This was SUCH a welcome holiday read! I was contacted out of the blue to review Enchanting Yuletide, and even though I was hesitant, a) because anthologies are usually hit-or-miss, but more importantly because of b) what we went through reading the Wolfsbane and Mistletoe holiday anthology. However, I was sad that I hadn’t read anything holiday-ish this month, so I said yes. I was SO HAPPY I gave it a chance! The stories were all fantastic in different ways, thought provoking, and actually left me feeling moved. I mean, I got weepy over one story in particular.

It’s a really short anthology of only six authors — six stories. So, I don’t want to give too much away. But I will talk a little about my two favorite — Hand-Me-Downs by Barbara Lieberman and The Memory Tree by Ellie Lieberman. Hand-Me-Downs was incredibly heart-warming with a touch of holiday magic that is incredibly relateable given the times we live in right now. A mother-daughter pair who find themselves struggling. No home of their own, constantly on the move, health issues. Yet, even with the struggles, they have love, family, friends. They are never thrown away or discarded. Their holiday becomes a magical affair that just makes you feel warm and reminds you of those old black-and-white movies you’d watch as a child the week between Christmas and New Years Eve.

Then, juxtaposed next to such an uplifting tale, we have The Memory Tree by Ellie Lieberman. Just as touching, but in such a different way. Where Hand-Me-Downs shows us the good cheer in holiday spirits, The Memory Tree reminds us that it is okay, and sometimes necessary, to remember the not so good during the holiday season. The things that hurt and are missing. The people that are no longer around the Christmas Tree or the dinner table. Just thinking about this short makes me emotional. It almost feels like we are given permission to feel bittersweet, which is something I personally find comforting the older I get.

The other four stories in Enchanting Yuletide are also just as fantastic, but in different ways. We have Seasons, a story of 3 brothers — one a neutral party, one a bitter betty, and the other forced into a villainous role. I mean, who, with siblings, can’t relate to that dynamic? Then there’s Tempus Fugit where we find upgrades aren’t always a great thing… Then, for those looking for a more straightforward fantasy take on Winter, we have Deep Winter Fire and Solstice Magic. Both constructing beautifully detailed worlds where humans emerge as the inheritors of magic.

After reading Enchanting Yuletide, I have to honestly say, I have six new authors to add to my watch list. Their ability to create such beautiful worlds in so small a space is a sign of true talent. Considering the kindle price is only $3.99 USD right now (December 15, 2017), do yourself a favor, get into the Christmas mood, and pick it up!

Stay tuned for some really cool, in-depth Q&As to find out more about the stories in Enchanting Yuletide, as well as about the authors themselves!