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Santa’s Coming Early This Year

Such a cute and festive cover, right? Makes me want to go sledding.

On October 8, Santa’s elves will be making an early stop to spread some Christmas cheer in bookstores near you, with the release of Chicken Soup for the Soul: It’s Christmas! Why am I so excited about this book, you ask? I’ve always been a little obsessed with Christmas, but now, with not one, but TWO Christmas babies in our family, we go completely bonkers every December 25. (Okay, okay, technically one of our Christmas babies is a Christmas canine—our dog Cole was born on Christmas day, 2004; our (human) daughter Cassidy was born on Christmas day, 2005. But still. What are the odds?)

This is an old picture, but it’s too cute not to post. My two Christmas babies, Cassidy and Cole—this was taken just before their 2nd and 3rd birthdays.

Anyway . . . chapter 12 of Chicken Soup for the Soul: It’s Christmas! recounts my family’s greatest Christmas miracle: the birth of my oldest daughter—the child we thought we’d never have. It’s one of those so-amazing-it-gives-you-the-chills kind of stories. And our story isn’t the only one. This book is full of true stories that will get you in the holiday mood—so grab yourself a cup of cocoa and start celebrating a little early!

Makes you want to snuggle up with a cup of steaming hot chocolate and a fuzzy blanket, doesn’t it?

The Thirteenth Summer (and Jimmy) on Facebook

The Thirteenth Summer has its own Facebook page, in case you hadn’t heard:

I’m posting lots of fun stuff about the book, including some deleted scenes from early manuscripts, inside info on the characters, and updates about the book’s Quest to Become a Movie (It’s been optioned by Hollywood producers, who are already shopping it around to film studios!). If you like the book (or if you just like me!) please also “like” the page on Facebook, and share it with your friends. The more of a following the book has, the better its chances of becoming a movie! 🙂 It also helps, when you read these posts, if you click the “like” button, so it posts to Facebook more frequently. Okay, commercial over. Back to blogging. THANK YOU!

Today I posted this scene in a note on the new Facebook page, and it felt kind of bloggish, so I thought I’d share it here, too, just for kicks. 🙂

One of my favorite things about writing The Thirteenth Summer was revisiting some of the cities I’ve lived in. Being a preacher’s kid, I moved up and down the East Coast throughout my childhood. I wanted to recapture, through Crystal’s eyes, some of the culture shocks I experienced.

When I was ten, my family moved from Atlanta to Boston. First let me say that, now that I live in Georgia again, fall in the South has been forever ruined for me by glorious memories of Boston’s Real Fall Weather . . . the trees a patchwork quilt of color; walking down the road to Wilson’s Farm to buy pumpkins and squash and caramel apples; aahhh, it was spectacular . . . But there were some bizarre moments, too. Like the first time I sat in my fifth grade class and said the word “y’all,” the WHOLE CLASS—I kid you not—turned around and stared at me like I had an alien popping out of my chest. For lunch, the cafeteria served peanut butter and fluff sandwiches. And here I thought fluff was something you did to your hair when you wanted a boy to look at you! (The sandwiches are divinely gooey, and an orthodontic nightmare, by the way.) If I wanted to buy a milkshake in Boston, people would ask me if I wanted a frappe instead. What the heck was a frappe? I’m still not exactly sure. And then there were the jimmies…

In case you didn’t catch it, that was my uber-smooth segue into a fun deleted scene from an early draft of the book.
This is Luke and Crystal in chapter 7, Coffee, Clothes and Cute Company, sight-seeing in Harvard Square with bodyguard Big Al—I’ll never forget my own first visit there. So I say again (dramatic pause here):

And then there were the jimmies…

Luke and Crystal bought cones at a small ice cream shop, and as the large grizzled man behind the counter scooped their cones, he grunted, “You want jimmies on those cones?”

“Excuse me?” Crystal said.

“Jimmies,” he repeated, looking at her as if she was two years old.

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand, who’s Jimmy?”

The man snorted and yelled over his shoulder, “Hey Bert, this little girl wants to know who Jimmy is!”

Crystal felt her face redden as she heard a hoot of laughter from the back of the store—apparently Bert was amused.

Luke stepped up beside her. “Hey, now, is that any way to treat a lady visiting Boston for the first time?” Crystal felt her face burn even more. No boy had ever defended her honor before.

The man glared at Luke, leaning over the counter as if to show off his superior size. “Hmmmph. So, jimmies or no jimmies?”

“We’d love jimmies, thank you.” Luke leaned down to Crystal (he was at least a foot taller than she was) and whispered, “I have no idea what they are, either, but we’ll try them, okay?”

She nodded, sure her face was still the color of a tomato.

It turned out that “jimmies” were just sprinkles, and Crystal was disappointed when Luke handed a cone to her. She’d been picturing something more exotic.

“Sorry about the rudeness, no Southern hospitality here,” Luke said between licks.

“Oh, hey, no big deal. And—um—thanks for, you know, sticking up for me.”

“No prob. But now you owe me one.”

“Blog” Rhymes with “Blah.” Sort of.

You might ask what this blog is about. And I might answer, That’s a good question.

I’ve always thought that blogging was a bizarre word and a rather strange concept altogether. I mean, let’s be honest: “Blog” rhymes with “blah.” Sort of. But at the same time, I get it… We all love the idea that our thoughts, our take on the world, even the minutiae of our daily life, might matter to other people. It’s like what Meg Ryan said in “You’ve Got Mail”: “I don’t really want an answer. I just want to throw this cosmic question out into the void.” A blog means that we throw our thoughts into the void, and someone besides God might actually pay attention—and if our blog gains devoted followers, we might even get some off-the-wall answers to our cosmic questions!