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A Conversation with NeonSeon, author of “Life of Shouty: Food and Fitness”

About NeonSeon

Creating Shouty Mack as a comic strip for a high school newspaper, NeonSeon developed Life of Shouty as a book series for children in 2010. NeonSeon grew up in Chicago’s Hyde Park community and currently resides in Atlanta. Honors include a Mom’s Choice Award for Life of Shouty: Good Habits.

For more information, visit www.SHOUTY.com.

The Interview

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

My ability to relate to others and see life through multiple perspectives.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?

I can be too critical of myself.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” attributed to Robert H. Schuller. I love this quote because it frees me to think about a wide-open future.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

I’m most proud of my ability to learn new things and acquire new skills year after year.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

My home was filled with positive and motivational books, and these themes are found in the Life of Shouty Series. My upbringing was also very creative, and without that, I probably wouldn’t have volunteered to be the cartoonist for the high school newspaper, and thus create the comic strip Shouty Mack.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Certain books gave me so much joy that it was natural to want to elicit that in others through writing. I read Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” in eighth grade and it blew me away.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote short stories for fun when I was younger, and I had several writing internships in college. I was an English major so I was always writing papers. I have always enjoyed writing.

How long have you been writing?

The Life of Shouty Series came out in 2010, but I’ve been writing since I was able.

When did you first know you could be a writer?

I’ve always known I could be a writer.

What inspires you to write and why?

The human condition inspires me, and the journey of growth. Laughter. Play.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

Non-fiction comes easiest but rhyming is fun.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My character, Shouty. I knew I had to write and develop a series for him. He is relatable, lovable and imperfect.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

I like to let the story unfold so I would say it’s more of a stream of consciousness process guided by rhyme. “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron helped to get me out creative blocks, as well.

Who or what influenced your writing over the years?

What has helped me the most over the years is looking at other people’s edits or suggestions of my work. For that moment, I get to see how their brains work and in so doing, it expands the possibilities I see in the act and process of writing.

What made you want to be a writer?

I didn’t necessarily want to be a writer or set out to be one. I just wanted to tell a story and bring a character to life, and writing was the medium I chose.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

Getting over your own doubts to realize the project and developing a good arc for the story.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?

I’ve struggled with making healthy choices most of my life and writing Life of Shouty: Food & Fitness taught me you can still contribute something of value in an area you’ve yet to conquer.

About Life of Shouty: Food and Fitness

Life of Shouty Food and FitnessShouty returns with a new challenge: his health. The second book in the Life of Shouty™ series by award-winning author and illustrator NeonSeon shows Shouty’s ups and downs on the path to wellness.

Like many of us, Shouty places a premium on being a productive person, and crossing items off his daily to-do list. While healthy food and fitness don’t make his list of priorities, Shouty is unaware of the impact this has on his declining health. Over time, Shouty becomes painfully aware that he must make lifestyle changes to improve his health, quality of life, and self-esteem.

Touching on themes of overeating, obesity, and inactivity, Shouty’s journey is illustrated in a way that captures his despair, as well as his ultimate triumph.

Debuting on Child Health Day, it is NeonSeon’s hope that this book affirms the importance of making healthy choices in one’s life and helps readers envision healthier versions of themselves. If you’ve ever found yourself on either end of the health spectrum, or are making your way somewhere in the middle, Shouty hits several notes on his path that will surely sound familiar.

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Interview with Daisy Jordan – Author of Love Means Zero

Daisy Jordan is an obsessive tennis fan and wrote this book so she could live out her dream-job fantasy through Hilton. Before deciding to write a book about the tennis tour, she wrote six other books, including Everything Happens for a Reason…, the Spin the Bottle series, and All That Sparkles Isn’t Real Sapphire. Even before that, she grew up in Indiana watching tennis all summer every summer on TV, and even attended a few pro tournaments. She now lives in Denver and religiously fills out brackets for every Grand Slam with her brother Josh.

You can visit her website at DaisyJordan.com

Q: Thank you for this interview, Daisy. Can you tell us what your latest book, Love Means Zero, is all about?

A: Love Means Zero is about Hilton, a recent college grad with a dead-end job at a portrait studio, unexpectedly landing a freelance role with Game Set Match magazine, which she refers to as “the Us Weekly of tennis.” Hilton has always dreamed of traveling the world and taking gorgeous photographs, and suddenly, she is doing just that. It’s about the best life she can imagine—partying with the players and their famous girlfriends, seeing fantastic tennis every day, and jetting off to a new place every week. But for her boyfriend Luke, it’s about the worst life he can imagine. He’s stuck at home in Indiana finishing law school, and the more Hilton’s gone, the less she seems to miss him. As he closes off from her and harbors a relationship-changing secret, Hilton, a happy-go-lucky believer in love and fate, laughs off her feelings for one of the world’s top-ranked tennis players as nothing more than a celebrity crush. But then, in one intense, heart-wrenching, thrilling, and thought-provoking moment, Hilton’s world turns upside down as she starts to see that love may not be as powerful or fate-determining as she thought.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Hilton is easygoing, free-spirited, and in love with life. She believes everything happens for a reason, but she also believes in going out and making things happen for herself. She is head-over-heels in love with her boyfriend Luke, whom she’s been with for almost six years. She is intuitive, thoughtful, confident, and spontaneous, and her friends mean everything to her. However, she also knows she sometimes has to put herself first, even if it could mean hurting someone else.

Luke is tall, good-looking, and laid-back. The most important people in his life are Hilton and his other two roommates, Jill and Todd. He is 100% happy with his current life—living with them while he finishes law school. After that, he imagines marrying Hilton and basically continuing with their life as it is—fun-filled times with great friends.

Jill has been Hilton’s best friend since ninth grade and is the only person to whom Hilton can truly tell everything. She is wildly in love with her boyfriend Todd, who has long been the guy of her dreams. Jill has experienced a lot of tumultuous rollercoasters in her life, and in the past, Hilton was usually the one with the awesome relationship, while Jill was usually single and struggling with guy issues. In this book, their roles begin to reverse.

Tanner grew up in Aspen, Colorado, moved to Vero Beach, Florida to play tennis when he was fourteen, and now is ranked No. 3 in the world. He quickly became a fan favorite on the tennis tour because of his funny and gracious personality…and his killer looks. He is part boy next door, part New York City partier. He is genuinely interested in people, he supports animal charities, and he loves to go out and do crazy things in the spotlight—both on and off the court. Tanner always has fun with whatever he does, and his magnetic energy draws in everyone around him.

Haidin is tennis’ most notorious bad boy. Ranked No. 5 in the world, his press conferences have to air on tape delays because of his penchant for profanity and outrageously offensive comments. He dates model/actress Aubrey Gage, and their scandal-filled relationship garners him as much, if not more, media attention—and backlash—as does his complete lack of sportsmanship in tennis. There’s a reason he acts like he does, but it’s one nobody would ever guess.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: My characters are almost completely from my imagination. I do occasionally give them traits of real people I know, which I usually do to make my friends and family laugh. For example, in Everything Happens for a Reason…, which is about Hilton, Luke, Jill, and Todd in college, I made one of their guy friends a really terrible dancer. I knew this would make all my college friends laugh, because it would remind them of one of our guy friends who was a really bad dancer. Hilton being a somewhat obsessive tennis fan is based on me, to an extent, although Hilton, being an actual tennis player, has a way better excuse to be an obsessive fan than I do. My friends and family think I’m slightly crazy, so they all kind of shook their heads and laughed when I told them Hilton was getting a job traveling with the tennis tour in my new book. For the most part though, my characters are unique, and one of the most fun parts of writing is developing them and getting to know them.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: I am usually consciously aware of one or two big things that will happen over the course of the book, but I never make an outline or plan things in detail ahead of time. I just start writing and let the ideas flow. They always do, and sometimes those big things I had in mind before I started writing don’t even happen, or they happen differently from how I originally pictured. I would call my style of writing “go with the flow.” I let things happen naturally, I let the characters react to what happens, and the plot then takes a more realistic path.

Q: Your book is set all over the world.  Can you tell us why you chose this format for the setting?

A: I find travel invigorating, and I also know it can change the way people think and feel, especially when they travel for long periods of time. Hilton has always wanted to travel, and once she gets a taste of that life, nothing else is enough for her. She is dissatisfied and uninspired back at home in Indiana. When she travels, she takes something from each place she goes, whether it be a feeling, a memory, or a new way of looking at some aspect of life. Eventually, this does change the way she feels about her relationship with Luke, and about love in general, which never would have happened had she stayed in Indiana her whole life. I also use the different settings to invoke a thrill in readers. I absolutely love to travel, and reading about faraway places always makes me want to jump on a plane. I think a lot of people feel this way, and Hilton’s lifestyle, along with each section of the book taking place in a different location, adds excitement to the story.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: It absolutely does, in a couple of different ways. As Hilton travels and Luke sits at home growing more and more miserable, they begin to drift apart, and both of their views on the relationship—which at the beginning of the book was rock-solid—change. This probably never would have happened had they both stayed home and continued life as they had always known it. There is also one particular setting in the book, New York City, that plays a major part in the development of the story. Hilton spends much of her time there between tournaments, and she comes to see it as her “home away from home.” She names it as her favorite city in the world, and there comes a point when she is more comfortable there than she is in Indiana. There are also a couple times when something major happens, or doesn’t happen, because of Hilton being in New York.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

A: Hilton is in Paris on her first assignment for Game Set Match. One of her jobs is to sit in the hotel lobby at night, follow tennis players when they go out, and try to get scandalous pictures of them. She has seen all the big-name players cross through the lobby at least once during her first week there…except for Tanner Bruin. She is almost positive he isn’t staying in the hotel, and she wonders if he has a secret girlfriend. She sees him as a mystery and is intrigued by him, because he’s also her favorite player. Later that night, she talks to Luke on the phone and describes being in Paris with Game Set Match as “going from zero to sixty in like, two seconds.”

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: I’ll give you one of the best ones that doesn’t give away anything big, but hints at several key aspects of the story that you’ll see when you read the book! This excerpt happens on Middle Sunday of Wimbledon, and it takes on greater significance later in the story, in more than one way.

The four of them went to a dark, crowded, noisy pub right across the street from their hotel. When they walked in, they had to walk down a set of steep, creaky stairs into the main room, and Hilton liked it, because down here below ground it was warm and cozy and they were secluded from the rainy gloom outside. It was horribly smoky, but Hilton figured she could deal with it for one day. The atmosphere was festive; all over people were talking and laughing loudly while they downed pint after pint.

“Oh my gosh!” a girl behind the bar shrieked when they approached. “Oh my gosh. You’re Tanner Bruin. And you’re Bryony Adams. Oh my gosh! I read about you guys in Game Set Match. Hold on, I’ll clear a table for you right away.”

Tanner smiled his easy, sexy smile. “It’s okay, we’ll wait.”

The girl couldn’t take her eyes off him. “Oh my gosh.”

“What do you guys want?” Tanner asked, turning to Bryony, Hilton, and Luke. “First round’s on me. For Luke’s birthday.”

“Thanks, man,” Luke said. “What’s a good English beer? I feel like trying something new.”

“What would you recommend?” Tanner asked the girl.

“Ummm…” She was star-struck and could hardly seem to think. “How about Bass? It’s one of our best pale ales. It’s probably our most popular. I think you’ll like it.” The last comment was directed toward Luke, but Hilton laughed to herself as the girl’s eyes immediately darted back to Tanner. She only wanted to impress Luke because he was part of Tanner’s party.

“Oh no, we don’t want pale ale,” Tanner said. “Give us something dark. Something with some bite. You pick something. I’ll trust you. Whatever you think is best.” He grinned at the girl again. Bryony looked at Hilton, and they laughed.

“Okay! You want that in pints?”

“Sure.” Something about the way he said it was so sure, so confident yet warm. Hilton felt little tingles all over. Everything he did was such a turn-on. And he always looked so good too; he was wearing dark jeans with a blazer again, like in Paris, but this time he wore the blazer over a fairly tight-fitting Aerosmith T-shirt, and he wore black Adidas shoes with white stripes. Hilton loved the mix of casual and classy. Bryony was wearing dark skinny jeans and a long slinky purple shirt with a low V-neck that clung to her body and showed off how thin she was. Hilton was wearing jeans and a dark green lingerie-like top with thin spaghetti straps under a tight long-sleeved black shirt with a V-neck that went down almost to her stomach and showed off a lot of the shirt underneath. Luke had on jeans and a lightweight black long-sleeved shirt from The Buckle. It was tight and showed off his toned-but-not-too-huge upper body. Hilton thought he looked delicious too.

“Okay!” The girl scurried off a few feet and was back merely seconds later with their drinks.

Tanner pulled out a wad of cash.

“Oh, no, it’s on the house.” The girl beamed at him.

“Oh, well thank you.” Tanner slid a fifty-pound note across the counter, then picked up a pint and handed it to Bryony.

“That was like a hundred dollars!” Hilton hissed in amazement. “Wow. It’s her lucky day.” She laughed.

“Was it?” Tanner shrugged. “I don’t really know the conversions. I go so many places I can never remember the ones like here, that have their own currency. I’ve got the euro pretty down, but I can never remember pounds.”

“Must be nice not to have it matter,” Luke laughed.

“Hey, I see a table!” Bryony pointed, and they all rushed over.

They ordered food and talked for a few hours. Tanner and Luke asked each other lots of questions about where they’d grown up and what they liked to do, and Hilton loved how well they got along. She learned a lot about Tanner too; she’d known for a long time just from watching his matches on TV and listening to the commentators that he’d been born in Aspen, Colorado and had moved to Vero Beach, Florida with his family when he was fourteen to train, but now she was learning all the details. He said he missed Aspen like crazy; he hadn’t been skiing in three years because he never had time. He’d grown up skiing every winter, all winter long, and had looked forward to being on the alpine ski team in high school. Even though he was modest, Hilton got the idea he’d been pretty awesome at it. But he had been doing really well in some regional tennis tournaments, and when he’d realized he had the chance to make it big in that, he’d decided to go for it. He said someday he wouldn’t mind moving back to Aspen though; his family had moved back when he’d joined the pro tour. He told all kinds of stories about growing up there; his dad had worked at a ski resort so his family had always had free unlimited ski passes, and Tanner had started skiing when he was three. He’d snowboarded too, but he said that was more just for fun; he hadn’t ever planned to be competitive with it. He’d started playing tennis when he was three too, at the courts at the resort, and that was what he’d done all summer when he wasn’t skiing. He told about how when he was sixteen and back in Aspen for Christmas, he’d asked out a girl he’d liked back in middle school and taken her skiing, and she’d broken her leg on the first time down the slope. She’d lived in Aspen her whole life but hadn’t ever been skiing; her dad had forbidden her from it because his brother had died in a skiing accident. So Tanner had thought it would be romantic and bad-boy-like and adventurous to take her, and then after she’d broken her leg, her dad had told her she could never talk to Tanner again, but Tanner had only been in Aspen for another week after that anyway.

The four of them were practically rolling with laughter by the time he finished, and Hilton could tell Bryony was hearing all this for the first time too. After all, she’d only known Tanner since April. Hilton had tears streaming down her face. She loved the image of Tanner as a teenager, really liking this girl and trying to be reckless to impress her…it was totally hot and just reinforced her image of his personality.

He told them other stories about Aspen too, like how it wasn’t out of the ordinary at all to walk into the grocery store and see a celebrity—tons of them owned homes in Aspen and the neighboring Snowmass Village—and how a lot of people who worked in Aspen and Snowmass couldn’t even afford to live there and had to live in neighboring, less ritzy towns. As he talked…about the Aspen Music Festival every summer, the Winter X Games, how he and his friends would ski anytime they possibly had the chance…she could hear the love for Aspen in his voice. She felt a bond with him; she, Luke, and Bryony were hearing him talk about stuff not a lot of people ever got to learn.

“Do you ever wish you wouldn’t have left?” Hilton asked.

Tanner looked thoughtful. “I don’t think so. But I think about how it would’ve been different, where I’d be in life right now.” He smiled. “Maybe I would’ve made it big in skiing and gone to the Olympics and Bry would’ve seen me on TV anyway.” He flashed his gorgeous smile in Bryony’s direction, and she laughed and shoved into him with her shoulder.

“Probably, but I might not’ve been able to tell he was hot, if he was all bundled up in ski stuff,” she said, and they smiled easily at each other.

Hilton laughed, but she felt a little twinge of jealousy. She shook it off, knowing she was being ridiculous.

“No,” Tanner said, turning back to Hilton, “I really do think about it sometimes…what it would’ve been like. I think I would’ve had a blast going to high school there and stuff, and then who knows, maybe I would’ve played tennis in college and ended up going pro anyway. But I think part of me would’ve felt like I missed a chance, like I was too scared to take it.”

Hilton nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah, I can see that.”

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Daisy.  We wish you much success!

A: Thank you! I loved doing this interview, and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity!

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Christmas and Cousins by Joy DeKok

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world. We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

Christmas and Cousins

by Joy DeKok

I got a small doll with a high chair and other extras. My brother got a car race track. As much as we enjoyed the presents, it was the cousins that mattered most.

We were gathered at Dorothy and Lee’s house where they lived with their three boys. My cousin Sheila was there and so was our Grandma. My uncle and dad enjoyed the race track and played with it more than the boys. My brother was a cowboy that year and our cousin Scott an army guy. Sheila and I were pretend mommies and best friends.

We were allowed to stay up late and while that sounded good, I tend to get a little on the goofy side when over tired.  I was nearing exhaustion, but nowhere near ready to give up unless required to do so.

 

 

As adults do when watching the kids they love, the noticed how we’d grown – we were like stair steps– Randy the oldest to Scott the youngest. Tallest to shortest.

Lining us up for a picture was a bit of a challenge. We were all agreeable and obedient, but one of us had a problem. Me. I could not stop laughing and nothing funny had happened. I was alive and happy and tired and out of control.

For a moment driven by the need to take a deep breath (and after a stern parental look) I’d been able to stop giggling. Then, it happened. I heard Randy laugh. Then Steve. Then Sheila. Well, then it was my turn again and I was worse off than before – I now had back up! 

We enjoyed our family, our gifts, and the yummy food, but the best part was the line-up of laughing cousins.

Joy DeKok and her husband, Jon, live in Minnesota on thirty-five acres of woods and fields. Joy has been writing most of her life and as a popular speaker shares her heart and passion for God with women. In addition to writing novels, she has also published a devotional and several children’s books.

Visit Joy online at: www.joydekok.com, www.raindancebook.com, www.believe4kids.com and www.gettingitwrite.net. 

 

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Christmas in a Box by Humorist Pat Snyder

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!


Christmas In a Box
by Pat Snyder

Hallmark tells us what Christmas should be like, and I’ve tried my darndest to replicate it. But try as I might, the memories I create are not always the ones I intend.
Take, for example, the Christmas breakfast box.  The idea was a timesaver, I thought, an easy way to feed the family on Christmas morning.

“Box breakfasts this year!” I announced to my boys, who at 2 and 6 had no idea what I was talking about., and headed off to a bakery to purchase empty white boxes – the kind puffy glazed doughnuts and iced pink cupcakes come in.

If you liked this story, click on cover to purchase an even better story by Pat Snyder!

One would think that the bakery boxes would have spoken to me before I even left the store.

“Fill us right here!” they should have said. “Just go with the doughnuts.”

But no. I was young, still navigating Marriage #1 (there were ultimately two) and intent on creating clever traditions unique to our little brood.

Instead, I took the flat paper creatures home, fit Tab A into Tab B and proceeded not only to fill them but to personalize each one with homemade felt cut-outs reminiscent of the recipient’s interests.  It was a laborious process involving eight boxes, enough for ourselves and two sets of eager grandparents who could not be dissuaded from watching the opening ceremonies on Christmas morning.

“This will be so much simpler than cooking,” I cooed, as I scissored golf clubs, golf balls, American flags, flowers, hamsters, bicycles and roller skates and glued them on the boxtops.  No need to repeat the process, I told myself.  I would simply re-use the boxes.

Inside would go hardboiled eggs, oranges, candy canes, and sausage biscuits wrapped in foil.

The kitchen counter, piled high with the boxes on Christmas morning was, to be sure, an impressive sight, and the first year everyone raved about my cleverness.  The second year, I recycled them – same boxes, new breakfasts – and so on, until the boxes were finally lost in a move. Mysteriously.

It touched me last Christmas when one of my boys, now grown, asked the other, “Whatever happened to the breakfast boxes?”

“Aw, they miss them,” I thought.

But when the two of them looked at each other and started doubling up, laughing like crazy, I knew something was up.

“How long were you going to keep using those boxes?” they howled, and went on to paint a vivid picture of boxes lined in foil to cover up grease stains and other ghosts of Christmases past.

“It’s a wonder we didn’t all die!”

Then they asked if I’d do it again, resurrect those breakfast boxes after almost 30 years.  Of course, I said yes.

Pat Snyder is a recovering lawyer and mother of three from Columbus, OH, whose new book, The Dog Ate My Planner: Tales and Tips from an Overbooked Life, includes the Frantic-Simplifier story and other light takes on the too-busy life. Find her online at www.PatSnyderOnline.com.

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How to Light Up the Heart of a Three-Year-Old Boy by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

 Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

 

How to Light Up the Heart of a Three-Year-Old Boy

 by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Parents and grandparents always wonder what will most delight their kids and grandkids.  What should they get them for Birthdays?  For the Holidays?  Should we buy what delighted us as children?  Should we really cater to their Santa or Chanukah lists?  Should we go with what is ‘in’ this year? 

These are important questions and all I can say, is listen to the kid even if it seems strange!  We did when our grandson was three.  We knew he loved to help his mother vacuum.  We had noticed that many times when we visited.  But it still surprised us when he asked for a vacuum.  A vacuum?  Who ever would want one?  I would love to give mine up if someone else would just magically appear and vacuum.  Why would a tiny kid want one?  Wouldn’t he rather have some trucks or a train set?  “No.”

All he kept asking for was a vacuum.  Did toy stores even have vacuum’s for kids? 

We decided we had no choice.  Off we went to look.  And indeed we found a vacuum that looked just like his mom’s except it was half the size. We were amazed.  It was a little pricey, but hey, he is our grandson! 

So we bought it and wrapped the box and appeared on Chanukah.  He didn’t have a clue what we were bringing. 

After lighting the candles and singing, we brought out the presents.  There were a few other presents first and of course some for his baby sister who was happy to just rip off the paper.  Finally the big box was brought out by his parents and handed to him.  I will never forget his face when he ripped off the paper and saw a picture of a stand-up vacuum on the box.  There was such joy in his eyes and his grin was as wide as could be.  He looked at us with love and recognition that said that even as a three-year-old, he realized that sometimes only grandparents, not parents can really get it right. Then the magical second passed and he ripped open the box. 

Soon the vacuum was plugged in and he was busy.  Off in a dream world of cleaning and pushing and doing what only a kid could experience.  We were so happy that we had hit it right.  We kept looking at him and loving every second of his eager pretend cleaning, even though he no longer had eyes for us. He was sweet though and did turn and look at us and smile every once in awhile.  Even the noise didn’t bother us-because of course, no good mechanical toy, is without its sound effects! 

That was a great Chanakah!

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein is the originator of The Enchanted Self(R). She has been a positive psychologist in private practice and licensed in the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts since 1981. She is currently in private practice in Long Branch, New Jersey with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein.  

She is the author of The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy, Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU! and There Comes A Time In Every Woman’s Life for DELIGHT.   

Her newest book, The Truth, I’m Ten, I’m Smart and I Know Everything! is another first in positive psychology. Written by a ten year old girl as a diary, Dr. Barbara has been able to imbed lots of positive truths that we all need to remember and live by, regardless of our age.  

The girl’s edition, titled: The Truth, (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) debuted February 2008 in bookstores nationwide. You can get your copy now at www.enchantedself.com.

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Holiday Memories: Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree: Memories of Holidays Past by Ingrid King

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree: Memories of Holidays Past
By Ingrid King

I love the holiday season, and my favorite part is always the annual decorating of the Christmas tree.  I’ve collected ornaments for the past twenty some years or more, and inevitably, bringing out the ornaments each year leads to a lovely, if  sometimes bittersweet, trip down memory lane.

I grew up in Germany, and traditionally, our Christmas tree was not decorated until Christmas Eve.  As a small child, I was not allowed into the living room while the tree was being decked out in its holiday glory.  I can still remember the eager and impatient anticipation of the moment when my parents would ring a small brass bell that hung on the tree, and I could finally enter the room.  It was pure magic each time.  The tree was decorated with multi-colored glass balls, sparkling tinsel, and real candles – something that we can’t even imagine in these safety conscious times we live in.

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When I moved to the United States in my mid-twenties, I was introduced to the tradition of putting the Christmas tree up right after Thanksgiving.  I loved this – now I could have the tree up for several weeks, not the mere two weeks I was used to from my childhood!  I was also introduced to artificial Christmas trees.  At first I balked at the idea – the intoxicating pine scent of my childhood trees was such an essential part of the holidays, it was odd to think about having to give that up.  But, being able to have a tree up for five to six weeks won out over not having the real thing.  Not having to deal with cleaning up needles for weeks after the tree was taken down was a nice side benefit.  And since having a fake tree has become the environmentally conscious thing to do these days, rather than making apologies for my fake tree, I am now politically correct.

I’ve accumulated quite a collection of ornaments over the years.  Many of them are cat themed, and I can usually remember where I got them or who gave them to me.  There are photo ornaments that contain the photos of my cats, past and present.  There are ornaments from places I’ve traveled to, like the shell ornament from a beach trip, the fat glass cat from a recent trip to New York City (is there anything better than New York City at Christmas time?), or the handmade wooden ornament my dad made for me the year before he passed away.   There’s the white tiger ornament that reminds me of a trip to Las Vegas to see Siegfried and Roy’s amazing performance.  There’s the angel tree topper that came from the world famous Christmas market in Nuremberg, Germany.

And of course, there’s the small brass bell from my childhood Christmases, and it still brings back the memory of that magic moment each and every holiday season.

Ingrid King is a former veterinary hospital manager turned writer.  She publishes the E-zine News for You and Your Pet, covering topics ranging from conscious living to holistic and alternative health.  She shares her experiences with consciously creating a joyful, happy and healthy life for pets and people on her popular blog, The Conscious Cat. Ingrid lives in Northern Virginia with her tortoiseshell cat Amber.  Visit www.ingridking.com .

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