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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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Interview with Barbora Knobova, author of Tales for Delicious Girls

Barbora Knobova

Barbora Knobova is a writer, relationship coach and expert in Delicious Life. A world traveler, she is one of those rare world citizens who live everywhere and nowhere. Barbora is a firm believer in female friendship, loyalty and bonding. She writes hilarious, sharp-witted, caustically apt, ironic, moving and very true books for strong, independent, smart, fearless women. Barbora has also written several self-improvement books and teaches women about the importance of self-love in relationships and life in general. Barbora speaks eight languages and has found her home away from home in New York, London and Milan. She is always on the move, accompanied by her beagle Brinkley, the nasty dog from Tales for Delicious Girls. You can visit her website at http://www.barboraknobova.com, her blog at http://barboraknobova.wordpress.com or connect with her at Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/barboraknobova or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/barboraknobova.author.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Barbora. Can you tell us what your latest book, Tales for Delicious Girls, is all about?

My book is called Tales for Delicious Girls. It is a humorous, ironic book about men and women and about female friendship. It deals with dating and relationship mishaps and funny situations that actually happened, no matter how incredible it may seem. It’s a book for smart women of all ages who have a sense of humor. And I always say that it’s a book of many faces. Its main purpose is to entertain but when you read it you realize the book also shows women that the relationship they have with themselves is much more important than their relationships with men and other people who surround them. It helps them love themselves more, appreciate and respect themselves. I know that no matter how strong we are, how educated we are, how great our career is, sometimes we just get lost in the complicated web of relationships. I would like every woman to see herself as the pillar of her own life, her best friend. I would like every woman to love herself truly. I hope that my book makes women laugh and also helps them deal with any personal and relationship issues they may have.

Q: Is this your first book?  If not, how has writing this book different from writing your first?

Tales for Delicious Girls is not my first book and of course, writing your first book is always a bit tricky especially because you don’t know what to expect and what lies ahead. However, writing a book is always an adventure and a challenge, a chance to learn, to grow, to become a better writer and a better person.

Q: How difficult was it writing your book?  Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

It’s incredible but I’ve never experienced writer’s block. Maybe it’s because I’m a very instinctive and impulsive writer. I write when I feel like writing and when I don’t feel like writing, I simply take a break. I think that a writer needs to let his/her thoughts flow naturally. When you start stressing, all those wonderful ideas vanish into thin air.

Tales for Delicious Girls by Barbora Knobova (click on cover to purchase)

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest book?  Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

I love connecting with my readers because they make me see my books through different eyes and they always find something more and new between the lines and behind the words. Most of my readers are women and it’s wonderful to see that Tales for Delicious Girls is a book that makes them happy, that they identify with the stories and find encouragement and support in them. I’ve had a few funny encounters with my male readers. (Surprisingly, there are many men who read my books. I think they are curious and want to get a peek into the world of women and their thinking.) I remember a man who came to my book signing event and said: “Let me take you for a walk to the forest and change your view of life.” I still don’t know if he was a poet or a creep.

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

I usually write in the morning. I love mornings, especially summer mornings when the air is fresh, the sun rises early, the birds sing and there’s this wonderful summer air when I open the window. In the afternoon I write blog posts and articles, update my social sites, answer e-mails and take care of my marketing activities and other work projects.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

I think that regular physical activity is very important for writers because we tend to have a sedentary lifestyle which is very unhealthy. Fortunately, I have a very active dog so long walks are a must. I also love swimming, badminton and especially golf which I find extremely relaxing for my overloaded brain and it’s also the best remedy for backache. In the evening I usually read books that keep piling up on my nightstand.

Q: What book changed your life?

Recóndita Harmonía by Marina Mayoral. It’s a wonderful story of female friendship and I think the best book about women ever written. I discovered it in Spain many years ago and since then I haven’t found a book that would beat it. I don’t think it has been translated into English, which is a shame. But I believe it’s a book worth learning Spanish for.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

Deliciously Insane.

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

…that I love men but I will always be on women’s side, even if it means treading on men’s corns.

Thank you for this interview, Barbora.  I wish you much success on your latest release, Tales for Delicious Girls!

Thank you very much, it was a pleasure!

Barbora Knobova is on a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book.  Visit her official tour page here.

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In the Spotlight: Tales for Delicious Girls by Barbora Knobova

What’s in a word? Anything you want there to be! D for daring, E for enchanting, L for loving, I for inspiring, C for captivating, I for intriguing, O for outgoing, U for unique, S for sophisticated: DELICIOUS.

Twenty-five exhilarating real-life stories about delicious women, eccentric men and stubborn dogs.

This book is meant to entertain you. It will make you laugh until there are tears in your eyes.   It will become your faithful companion, and will help you find yourself. It was written for you because you’re delicious – the most delicious girl in the world.

Tales for Delicious Girls offers witty, refreshing, clever and ironic insight into relationships between men and women from all points of view. The book is a modern relationship manual, providing answers to the most pressing dating and friendship questions that strong, independent, modern women want to know. “Tales for Delicious Girls” deals with wishes, desires and dreams – as well as hilarious mishaps and dating disasters.

However, Tales for Delicious Girls is not simply a humorous book. In addition to entertaining the readers, the tales will inspire women to think about their own life and relationships, see themselves through different eyes and realize that they are their own best friend, the pillar of their own life, and the only person they can always count on. “Tales for Delicious Girls” encourages women to love, respect and appreciate themselves, to live the life they have always wanted, and become aware of their true uniqueness and deliciousness.

Tales for Delicious Girls contains over fifty beautiful, original illustrations by Nela Vadlejchova.

Book Excerpt:

Looking back at some of my serious relationships, would-be relationships, love affairs and relationships beyond any definition, my mind boggles at all those things I was (almost) able to do for men. I almost became a Jew, a Muslim, a devoted member of the Anglican Church and a lover of mushy peas that I’ve hated since kindergarten. I put up with possessive mothers-in-law, admired jealous sisters-in-law, played with unbearably spoiled nephews and adoringly took care of senile aunts. I went on a four-day trek through the desert and ate matzo in a kibbutz, although I’m a convinced city girl. I celebrated Pesah, Ramadan and I almost had myself christened. I also almost moved a few times, changed my job and pretended that I was not at all cold in that awful chilly apartment with mold on the walls, and that it was an amazingly manly, bohemian pad. A week after a major surgery, I dragged myself through bleak December London by public transport only to prove what a cool and low-maintenance girl I was. Not to mention the emotional and financial damage that I suffered during all those enthusiastic efforts, and that I did not give a damn about until I completely sobered up and started to act again as a rational homo sapiens, that is, as a person compos mentis.

And why am I writing all this? Because of the extremely important word “almost”. Because of the little word “almost”, thanks to which I now recall all those crazy and idiotic escapades bordering on derangement with grace, amusement and with a smile on my face. Because of the word “almost”, thanks to which I actually like remembering them because l’aventure c’est l’aventure, or adventure is adventure, as a French movie with Lino Ventura claims. And adventure is necessary, adventure ensures that I will not get bored and that one day I will have something to tell my grandchildren
(supposing I withhold a few unimportant details that I prefer not to admit even to myself).

However, some women have tough luck with the word “almost”, as it seems to avoid them. It keeps jumping back, hiding and reappearing. And from the heights of its own elusiveness, it laughs at them and mocks them. In the upshot, many of us end up with an empty bank account, with an empty apartment, with empty hands and hitting rock bottom. At the best, with bruises on our soul. At the worst, with bruises even on the soul’s outer wrapping.

Nevertheless, this chameleon syndrome implying “I will be what you want me to be” probably affects only women. If you know a man who, because of “the love of his life”, gives up his job, his family, his fat cat whose hairs you are allergic to, and his disgusting high school sneakers that are “as good as new”, introduce him to me. Introduce him to me and I will have him submitted to a thorough psychological examination as an absurd natural phenomenon.

A man is simply an inadaptable creature. A man goes to bed when he is sick, even if a windstorm takes away the roof above his head and his boss threatens to fire him. A man eats what he likes, in the pub that he has adored since college parties. A man does not pretend that his biggest dream is to spend the evening with you and your bitter high school friend “whom you can’t stand
anyway, you told me that last Wednesday”. He does not walk your beagle if he hates dogs. And he does not join you on a guided tour in Madrid if he is all but enthusiastic about the gems of architecture. And a man does not care if you like it or not, if you fume with rage, cry or get mad and stop talking to him. He does not care what the others think of his decisions, choices and wacky opinions. He couldn’t care less, and actually, he wouldn’t even think of worrying about it because it’s a loss of time and especially of energy that needs to be saved for much more meaningful and much more entertaining stuff.

And that’s the point. Why do women trim their sails while men remain in their comfort zone? Why do we push ourselves to the limit, live on our nerves, give up our soul, our personality, the little things we love? Why do we pretend, fake, lie blatantly to ourselves and on top of that manage to become convinced that it’s making us happy? Why do we rigorously get rid of everything that makes us unique? What for?

Let’s try to put an end to it once and for all. Let’s try to love ourselves unconditionally; let’s protect ourselves and everything that belongs to us. Let’s not conform to the needs, ideas or demands of relationships in which we cannot be ourselves and in which we don’t even recognize ourselves anymore. Because men, lovers, admirers and potential (sometimes even real) fathers of our children come and go; some stay for awhile, some stay a little bit longer and some might stay forever, but that’s something we never know in advance. The only thing that stays forever is us. So don’t ever give up on yourself, because you are your own most precious possession.

“I have five daughters and want them all to read this book.  I want them to remember that you are your own best friend, and when the rest of the world seems against you, when love has given you the dirty end of the stick, you should be able to look in the mirror, hold your head up, and smile right back.  Why?  Because every female is a Delicious Girl = D for daring, E for enchanting, L for loving, I for inspiring, C for captivating, I for intriguing, O for outgoing, U for unique, S for sophisticated: DELICIOUS!”

–Kelly Wallace

“The most important lesson that the female reader learns from this book is set out in the first chapter; this being that you are fantastic the way you are and shouldn’t change for anyone, and that you should love yourself. If you manage to form this relationship with yourself then the likelihood is that the right man will come into your life. You can’t change people, so why should you change yourself for them, whether it is your hair, what you enjoy doing or more serious parts of you that make you so very special.”

–Sarah Pierce

“This book is delish! sweet and adorable. I felt as though I could conquer the world after I finished it. It was such a nice twist over the usual self-help books that are always telling me (us) that we need to improve, develop and grow.”

–Bookshipper

Barbora Knobova is a writer, relationship coach and expert in Delicious Life. A world traveler, she is one of those rare world citizens who live everywhere and nowhere. Barbora is a firm believer in female friendship, loyalty and bonding. She writes hilarious, sharp-witted, caustically apt, ironic, moving, true books for strong, independent, smart, fearless women. Barbora has also written several self-improvement books and teaches women about the importance of self-love in relationships and life in general. Barbora speaks eight languages and has found her home away from home in New York, London and Milan. She is always on the move, accompanied by her beagle Brinkley, the nasty dog from Tales for Delicious Girls.  You can visit her website at www.barboraknobova.com.

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Holiday Memories: The Importance of Family Traditions by J.M. Hochstetler

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!


The Importance of Family Traditions
by J.M. Hochstetler

When my daughters were tiny, with the holidays fast approaching, I impulsively decided that on the night of Christmas Eve, when they were fast asleep, I would hang candy canes all over our tree as a sign that Santa had come. Well, that idea turned out to be a huge success. When my little girls ran downstairs that Christmas morning, they were so excited to find the treats on the tree that I knew I’d come up with a very special tradition.

Over the years, as holidays came and went, I continued my secret Christmas Eve ritual. As they grew older, however, the children appeared to take less and less notice of the candy canes. They would eat only a few, and then after we took the tree down I ended up throwing most of them away. It seemed a waste. So one Christmas I thoughtlessly came very close to letting that tradition die.

That year I was so busy with holiday preparations and the day-to-day routine that I kept forgetting to pick up a package of candy canes at the store. It seemed like such a simple, unimportant thing. The girls were too old to care about my little tradition anymore, I told myself and I shrugged off the quiet voice that nagged at me to get those candy canes!

One evening just a couple of days before Christmas, I was rushing around the house, as usual, burdened with too many holiday preparations. In spite of my preoccupation, I happened to notice my oldest daughter, Jennifer, who sat on the stairs with my youngest, Katie. Both were snuggled in their nightgowns, slippers, and robes, happily taking in our cozy living room before heading off to bed.

Below them, fire blazed on the hearth and colored lights twinkled on the tree. Holiday decorations were arranged everywhere, and pine garlands and tiny white lights draped the mantel as well as the banister on either side where they sat. The scene was so perfect that I stopped for just a moment to breathe in the heady scents of pine and spices and to bask in the room’s glow. And as I lingered, I overheard what the girls were whispering about.

“Now, you know,” Jennifer told her little sister, “on Christmas morning when Santa comes, he always hangs candy canes all over the tree.”

Katie’s eyes grew round. “Always?” she breathed, in sweet expectancy.

“Oh, yes, always,” Jennifer assured her with the easy confidence of a big sister. “There will be candy canes all over the tree on Christmas morning. You’ll see.”

My heart almost stopped. One look at my daughters’ faces told me that I’d better plan on a special trip to the store the very next day. And suddenly gratitude flooded over me at the realization that the Lord had pulled me up short from my preoccupation with all the things that seemed so urgent to remind me of something I had come way too close to missing—a tradition that was genuinely meaningful to my children.

On that Christmas morning and every Christmas morning since then to this very day, candy canes have adorned my Christmas tree. My grown children expect to see them there when they arrive Christmas morning every bit as much as my grandchildren now do. It’s a tradition I wouldn’t think of ending. Because of that simple, long-ago impulse and the Lord’s reminder to be faithful in its observance, my family is making memories that in one form or another will be passed down to coming generations. It’s a simple thing as many of our traditions are, but oh, how meaningful!

J. M. Hochstetler writes stories that always involve some element of the past and of finding home. Born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages. She was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years and has published four novels. Daughter of Liberty (2004), Native Son (2005), and Wind of the Spirit (March 2009), the first three books of the critically acclaimed American Patriot Series, are set during the American Revolution. One Holy Night, a retelling of the Christmas story set in modern times, is the 2009 Christian Small Publishers Fiction Book of the Year and a finalist for the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Long Contemporary Book of the Year.

Hochstetler is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, Nashville Christian Writers Association, and Historical Novels Society. She and her husband live near Nashville, Tennessee.

You can find Joan online at www.jmhochstetler.com or at this book’s blog http://americanpatriotseries.blogspot.com.

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I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Barbora Knobova

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!

I’ll Be Home For Christmas
by Barbara Knobova

My great-grandparents came to former Czechoslovakia at the beginning of the 20th century from Italy. They arrived as poor but determined immigrants looking for new life. Their new country accepted them with open arms and their hard work soon paid off. However, the first Christmas my great-grandparents spent in Czechoslovakia was affected by the outbreak of World War I. The army officials came to confiscate my great-grandfather’s horse but he loved the animal too much and couldn’t imagine parting with it. He enlisted, leaving his wife and newborn baby alone. At Christmas four years later, he and his horse returned home, alive, unharmed, having saved each other’s life several times on the Serbian battlefield.

My grandma, my great-grandparent’s daughter, got married in 1931, two years after her parents had lost everything due to the Great Depression. They worked hard and they never gave up. My dad was born in September 1932 and the family moved into their new house just before Christmas, only three years after the crisis, having built their company once again from scratch.

In 1948 when communists came to power, my family, just like all families of business owners, became a public enemy. The communist government confiscated everything they owned. My dad could have stayed in Britain where he studied, which would have saved him. Instead, he came home for Christmas and was never allowed to leave the country again. As a son of an entrepreneur, he was arrested and imprisoned on Christmas two years later.

If you like this story, click on cover to purchase an even better story by Barbora Knobova!

In November 1989, the communist regime came crashing down, after long forty years. It was the Christmas of liberty and hope. A year later we celebrated Christmas in my great-grandparents’ house, after it had been returned to my family and after my dad had followed in my great-grandfather’s footsteps and built the company again, for the third time.

My dad died of a sudden heart attack in July 1997. The months that followed were marked by struggle for me and my mum. We had to liquidate my dad’s business in order to pay the creditors and greedy relatives who circled around us like vultures wanting their share. At Christmas we were alone and had nothing left. But we were at home. We had saved our house. We came home for Christmas, determined not to give up. In the year that followed, the family business rose like Phoenix from the ashes for the fourth time and it proudly carries my great-grandfather’s name until today.

Life has been good to me ever since. Yes, I had to struggle and fight and give up on many things. But I also received many things in return. I became strong-willed, wise and courageous. I learned to live with gratitude, generosity and joy. I follow my dreams without fear and I cherish every moment spent with my dear ones. I live for today, knowing that I am strong enough to deal with anything that may come tomorrow. And no matter where in the world I am, I always remember to come home for Christmas. It runs in the family.

Barbora Knobova is a writer, relationship coach and expert in Delicious Life. A world traveler, she is one of those rare world citizens who live everywhere and nowhere. Barbora is a firm believer in female friendship, loyalty and bonding. She writes hilarious, sharp-witted, caustically apt, ironic, moving, true books for strong, independent, smart, fearless women. Barbora has also written several self-improvement books and teaches women about the importance of self-love in relationships and life in general. Barbora speaks eight languages and has found her home away from home in New York, London and Milan. She is always on the move, accompanied by her beagle Brinkley, the nasty dog from her new book, Tales for Delicious Girls.

http://www.barboraknobova.com

Tales for Delicious Girls on Amazon.com – http://cli.gs/TalesForDeliciousGirls

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Book Excerpt: Family Plots by Mary Patrick Kavanaugh

Family Plots

Family Plots

Experts claim that the secret to a happy relationship isn’t sex, children, money or even love. It has much more to do with the power of self-deception—a belief that your spouse is wonderful, even when evidence starts pointing to the contrary. Of course, if you happen to learn that Mr. Wonderful is making extracurricular whoopee with a woman who is, say, thinner or more successful than you, you can’t pretend that your love life hasn’t just splattered in your face, like a bug on a windshield. But there are trickier, more elusive marriage malignancies—such as lies of omission, financial infidelity, or a dogged refusal to change anything, be it a behavior, an opinion, or even a zip code. These may be easier to ignore.

The story that follows involves marriage and money, death and deception.

There is also some messy business regarding an unresolved murder. It was the last decade of the twentieth century, when Big Brother wasn’t watching people so closely. I was a budding private investigator and young single mother in love with an attractive criminal attorney who, it turned out, was committing a few crimes of his own. Through much of our marriage, I managed to disregard my better instincts—even as I slid into a world of
pseudonyms, fake weddings, hidden bank accounts, and unexplained cash. It all made perfect sense to me at the time.

Looking back on the bizarre chain of events that changed the course of my life, I’ve concluded that there’s no blaming my husband for what happened.

He never forced me to lie or cheat or to commit ridiculous fiduciary crimes just to keep up with him. He certainly never asked me to stick my nose into the dark business of his past. Being immersed in this drama was like diving into an ice-cold lake—shocking and exciting at first, but then I became used to it. It never occurred to me that this could be dangerous—that hypothermia could lead to incoherent, irrational behavior.

But if happiness is the goal, perhaps denial is underrated. Especially so when you are trying to hang onto something you desperately desire. Though my former life is not one I would ever choose again, I’ll never regret how I let love pull me along the slippery path that eventually landed me a permanent place in this secretive family plot.

–Excerpt from Family Plots by Mary Patrick Kavanaugh.  You can visit Mary’s website at www.marypatrick.com or purchase her newest book, Family Plots, by visiting Amazon!

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Book Excerpt: The Cutting by James Hayman

The Cutting

The Cutting

Standing here in a scrap yard in Portland, Maine, McCabe suddenly had the feeling he was back in New York. It wasn’t like he was imagining it. Or remembering it. It was like he was really there. He could hear the rush of the city. He could smell the stink of it. A hundred bloodied corpses paraded before his eyes.

His right hand drew comfort from resting on the handle of his gun. Mike McCabe once again lured to the chase.

He knew with an absolute certainty that this was his calling. That it was here, among the killers and the killed, that he belonged. No matter how far he ran, no matter how well he hid, he’d never leave the violence or his fascination with it behind.

–Excerpt from The Cutting by James Hayman.  Visit his website at www.jameshaymanthrillers.com or purchase his book at Amazon by clicking here!

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