Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Only Gift That Matters by Grace Burrowes

Do you have travel plans for the holidays? Maybe you're not driving or flying a great distance, maybe you're simply adding some different names to your holiday guest list, or attending a gathering you haven't been invited to in previous years, or trying a different recipe for fruitcake.
 
Did you find some new catalogs to shop from? A new store at the mall that has the BEST baked goods? 

My holidays have taken a slightly adventurous turn, though I'm not traveling beyond Western Maryland. After nearly three dozen historical titles, I'm looking forward to the release of a trilogy of contemporary romances in January, February, and March. Last month we issued the first novella, Kiss and Tell, for $.99 and this month's novella, A Kiss For Luck, is available for FREE. Next month's title, A Single Kiss, is my first full length contemporary romance, and I'm hoping my readers love it as much as I do.

A walk on the contemporary side has helped me see all of my writing in a different light. I've fallen into historical vocabulary, historical social mores, and historical devices, that I hadn't realized had become so ingrained. For my contemporary series, the heroes are lawyers, private investigators, and I'm thinking of having my next hero be a judge. 
Those guys aren't going to confide in their horses or cut a dash turning down the candlelit ballroom dance floor, but they might grouse out loud to their dog or their cat--or to each other. 

Because like a holiday gathering, the exact spices in the eggnog aren't what make the holiday, and the wreath on the door isn't what makes people feel welcome. Winter holidays, regardless of which faith tradition you observe them in, are all about the love. So too, has writing a contemporary series helped me see that no matter the setting, the time period, or the particular characters involved, it's all about the love.

Dunstan Cromarty, from Kiss and Tell, is a Scottish attorney who's chosen to make his home the wilds of rural Maryland, but he has a streak of stubborn loyalty any of my historical lairds or lasses would recognize. Gideon Granville, from A Kiss for Luck, came to the US from Britain as a teenager, but his courtly manners and gentleman's intuition would have served him well in a Regency ballroom. 

And the Knightley brothers, Trenton, James and MacKenzie, have the same protectiveness and brusque honesty with each other that Windhams, Lonely Lords, and MacGregors expect from their siblings and sidekicks. 

Like the best holidays, the joy we take in a good romance is not a matter of the trappings or outward details, or even the dark chocolate marzipan, it's about the love. It's all about the love. 

Read an excerpt of Kiss and Tell.
Read an excerpt of Kiss for Luck.
Read an excerpt of A Single Kiss

What's the one, fixed tradition you observe every year, the one you'd hate to see fall by the wayside? Is there an aspect of the holidays you WOULD like see set aside? To one commenter, I'll send a $50 Amex gift card. 

Happy Holidays! 
Grace Burrowes 

42 comments:

  1. The one "tradition" we have always done with out girls is open Christmas Eve presents. The present would be something they could use that night like a game to share with the entire family. This year is all over the place for me And my family but we will make the best of it.... Merry Christmas Grace.....

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    1. I recall the same approach on my parents' part: One gift on Christmas Eve to settle everybody down, and distract them. Then we'd go to Midnight Mass, and come home an open the rest of our presents at 3 am. Good memories. I hope your family can find peace and joy this holiday season despite the challenges.

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  2. When we travel for Christmas, we often don't put up a tree, and that's a Christmas tradition I so miss when we don't do it!

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    1. More than putting up the tree, I liked going to get it. The place we cut ours also had raised basset hounds, and there were always puppies for sale at Christmas time. Strategy or what? http://www.taitfarmfoods.com/

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  3. I have quite a few fixed traditions but if I had to choose just one it would be the exchange of Christmas filled stockings with my husband. We started this tradition the first year we married and had no money for expensive gifts so we had little things in the stocking; candy bar, pack of tissues, crossword puzzle book, etc. Now 50 years later it is still what we both look forward to on Christmas morning.

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    1. My dad always had the job of stuffing stockings, and it just wasn't Christmas until you made SURE Dad recalled to put some maple candy in your stocking and a tangerine in the toe. He never let us down, either.

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  4. I volunteer in an art gallery which sells and supports Florida artists and I love helping people find the perfect gift but if I never hear " Frosty the Snowman" again, I will be thrilled!

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    1. We could add so many titles to your "never again" list. I'd start with Blue Christmas, Santa Baby, Have Holly Jolly, Sleigh Ride... you got me started!

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  5. My favorite holiday tradition is decorating the tree. My husband, daughter and I decorate the tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving . It's so much fun to unwrap the ornaments and share memories with each other.

    My daughter loves a pink sparkly nutcracker that I got years ago as. Yankee swap gift. It's awful. She insists that it come out of hiding . It's in the family room....next year it's going to college with her in September. :)

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    1. "It's awful." I'm reminded of a lamp with a lady's leg encased in a fishnet stocking for its base. There's no awful like Christmas awful.

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  6. My favorite holiday tradition is decorating the tree. My husband, daughter and I decorate the tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving . It's so much fun to unwrap the ornaments and share memories with each other.

    My daughter loves a pink sparkly nutcracker that I got years ago as. Yankee swap gift. It's awful. She insists that it come out of hiding . It's in the family room....next year it's going to college with her in September. :)

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  7. It is getting together and spending time with family! It is truly one of the things that can not be bought

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    1. And seems to be one of the most enduring aspects of Christmas. The Regency folks didn't make a big deal of Christmas, but they did visit back and forth... even Jane Austen confirms that.

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  8. My favorite holiday tradition is just family. It is a time we do reflect, play games and think about our year. It has become more and more precious to me as my Dad is battling dementia and my small little family is not under one roof any longer. I am excited for your new adventure in writing and loved what I have read so far. Congrats on new roads travelled. Once again, you have given me inspiration.

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    1. My folks are 94 (dad) and 91 (mom), and we've been through many years of "this could be the last one, no really...." Sweet and sad, but the love abides. No matter what, the love is always there.

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  9. One of my favorite traditions is giving of things to other - the Angel tree, those who won't get gifts. We also love to drink hot chocolate and watch Christmas movies the day of and on Christmas eve. I could do without the hectic crazy air that surrounds the holidays.

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    1. I would really like to have a few hours with my sister this year to watch "White Christmas." That's what I want.

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  10. Growing up, it was tradition in our family for 'santa' to decorate the tree. I don't know how my parents did it with 6 children! We would wake up when it was still dark outside and the tree would be shiny and bright! We also had chocolate roulade filled with vanilla ice cream for New Year's!

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    1. My mom made an ice box cake, and my... it was one of those desserts you had to request for your birthday because she'd never make it any other time except Christmas.

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  11. I love making Christmas cookies with my mom. It's just Betty Crocker sugar cookies, but rolling them out and using the Christmas cookie cutters, same as when I was a child, always feels good.

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    1. I am a pathetic sucker for the gingerbread slice and bakes. No dignity whatso. In January when it goes on sale, I buy three rolls and freeze 'em.

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  12. I'm reading A KISS FOR LUCK right now. Love it! I would hate to see stores and retail open on Christmas. I think everywhere should be closed so people can spend time with family.

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    1. Hush your mouth, Madam Author. I feel the same way about Thanksgiving.

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  13. I have a tree trimming party every year. It's grown so much that it takes quite a bit of effort to pull the whole thing off but I wouldn't want to stop for anything. This year the youngest was 2 and my mom is 92. The best part is the getting together different friends and family that don't always get to see each other. I would always like to set aside all the cleaning that's involved lol.

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    1. That is an enormous age range. I hope you delegate some of the jobs, so people at least bring goodies to share, or a bottle of ginger ale for the punch bowl.

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  14. In my family, it's all about the music!

    Whether taking boxes out of the attic, decorating the tree or baking up some Christmas goodies, it doesn't feel like Christmas until the music is cranked up to full volume. There are certain memories associated with certain songs. Ray Conniff's "Twelve Days of Christmas" will always remind me of my sister and I decorating the tree dressed in fluffy Santa hats, Christmas t-shirts, tree skirts and Christmas stocking's on our feet. Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride inevitable reminds me of High School wind ensemble where I had the not-so-envious task of playing sleigh bells - 4 years in a row!

    Even now, many years removed from High School, my sister and I both get ridiculously excited when we hear "A Christmas Festival" by the Boston Pops. It signals to us the official start of the Christmas season. Now, living on opposite sides of the country, it is one thing we still celebrate together before we can actually be together.

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    1. Yep, Sleigh Ride and blocks. Always reminds me of Monty Python and those coconuts... and that danged horse whinny.

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  15. Growing up in northern NJ, my mother made every effort to continue a few Dutch traditions. Butter Letter was always my favorite sweet Christmas treat. Butter Letter is a pastry consisting of almond paste filling enrobed in a flaky dough. Children in Holland would receive the dough on Christmas morning formed in the first letter of their name. Mom never quite got the knack of that and most of ours were simple letter "I"s. As Mom progressed into the very senior years of her life the making of Butter Letter looked like it would cease to be a family tradition. Enter my husband, who is a fantastic hobby baker. Russ has taken up the Butter Letter tradition making a few improvements along the way. My married sons and their wives see who can snatch the most to take home during our family celebration. A few NJ family members look forward to receiving a package containing my husband's cookies and Butter Letter.

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    1. Lovely, when a tradition can be carried forward like that. Sounds like a combination spritz cookie and marzipan. If you have any leftovers....

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  16. decorating the tree together

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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    1. I recall this as one of the many activities my brother Tom over saw, since he was the "oldest of the youngest," or older than the younger three. The tree was always beautiful too!

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  17. Decorating the house and baking cookies. I really love have time at home with my family. I am lucky, my employer closes for the week between Christmas and New Years.

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    1. I came across that closure when I worked for my first Fortune 100 corporation. Everybody in accounting let us know that THEY had to work.... So we went out of our way to make sure they had cookies.

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  18. I love to put my Christmas lights up, they're so cheery when I drive up to my house each night. I wouldn't mind seeing the whole Black Friday (and even earlier) shopping rush fall by the wayside. Especially the opening on Thanksgiving, have a heart for your employees people.

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    1. I'm with you, Barbara. Maybe if the employees were getting triple time, and could sign up on a volunteer basis, but I don't think it works that way.

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  19. We still fill stockings for our adult children. We have a new Grandson this year, and my daughter asked if she would still get a stocking now that Cole is here! It will be a tradition that I plan to continue. Looking forward to this contemporary series!

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    1. My daughter left home nearly ten years ago. She's still on my Christmas list, and her birthday is another opportunity for me to play Santa Claus.

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  20. First what I wouldn't mind going away: The early 'celebration' of the Christmas Shopping season - I for one can wait to see signs of Christmas in stores until after Thanksgiving. (And can we please not have shopping start on Turkey day? - at least wait until Friday please)

    If I could only choose one tradition to keep, it would be spending time with the family. Additional traditions include everyone getting a stocking including the animals and as much baking as we can fit in.

    Merry Christmas Everyone!

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    1. Glenda, and the WORST thing about all that starting early? As soon as Halloween's over, it's the Christmas music.... If I NEVER hear Blue Christmas again...

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  21. And WE HAVE A WINNER! Vanetta is the lucky commenter who gets the Amex gift card. Thanks to everybody who stopped by!

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  22. Thank you Grace!! What a sweet surprise! God bless everyone and Merry Christmas!

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  23. My favourite Christmas tradition is decorating the tree,and spending time with my family,I love that special Christmas spirit,it's wonderful :)

    Thank you for the wonderful post Grace!

    Looking forward to read your new contemporary romance series :)

    Happy Holidays to you and your family :)

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