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Special Traditions and Memories of the Holiday Part 2

Today I want to welcome an author friend Donna Simonetta to my blog with a fun holiday memory. I know you’ll enjoy her story. You’ll find links to her books and information about Donna following her story.

Nekkid Santa

I have to begin with a confession…I’m a Christmas nut! I love everything about the season; I have to force myself to wait until the Friday after Thanksgiving to listen to Christmas music and read holiday-themed romance novels.
My husband and I always spend Christmas with my mom and two sisters. We travel up to their house by train, which I LOVE, and it always kicks the holiday off in a festive manner. Once we get to her house, my childhood home, we have a lot of beloved long-standing holiday traditions.
But today I want to tell you about a newer one that we’ve embraced within the past several years. My husband’s sister always sends Christmas socks and little gifts to all of us at my mom’s house. One year, she sent the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen––just because he was so funny. It was an air-freshener cover, which looked like Santa. Well…sort of…you see, to fit over an air freshener (if you had one, which we did not!), he had no legs or lower body. And the only article of clothing on the little doll was his Santa hat. Aside from it, he was nekkid as nekkid could be. When my sister, Judy, came home from work that day, she picked him up, turned him around as she studied him. Finally she said in amazement, “Santy’s naked!”  And Nekkid Santy was born.
That year, my husband, my other sister, Mary, and I took Nekkid Santy with us as we ran our Christmas Eve errands. At each stop, we’d take a picture of him. At the seafood store, the guys were so taken with Nekkid, they even posed him with a giant prawn.
Now, we bring Nekkid on the train with us every year, and of course, take pictures. We live in Baltimore, and a couple of years ago, while waiting for our train, we saw John Waters at the station. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it was him, until he’d passed us, because a picture of Nekkid with the quirky filmmaker would have been a coup! Coming home one year, we treated ourselves to First Class seats, the attendant in our car really embraced the whole Nekkid thing, and brought a bunch of small bourbon bottles to our table, to take pictures of Nekkid Santy kicking back on December 26th.
Actually, Nekkid’s adventures are not limited to Christmas. Oh no, far from it! He even has his own FaceBook page:, and I suspect he has more followers than my author page does! Judy brought him on a beach trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida, and Nekkid was the only (sort of) male on their girls trip. Based on the pictures, he had a blast! Also, my sister-in-law, who brought Nekkid into our lives, has brought him to the Oregon coast and North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Evidently, Santa liked to escape from the North Pole to warmer climes when he’s off duty.
Wherever you find yourself this holiday season, be it on the road or cozy at home, I hope you’re having as much fun as Nekkid Santy is! Although, hopefully, you’re wearing more clothes than he is. Ho! Ho! Ho!


Donna’s Bio: My career has been a winding road. I worked in the business world for years, got my MLS and worked in a school library, and am now living my dream as an author. I love to read and write contemporary and fantasy romance. I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.



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Special Traditions and Memories of the Holiday

   Iona Morrison      I have asked three of my author friends to share a holiday tradition, or a Christmas memory with you. Over the next few weeks I want to introduce you these special ladies. Judith Sterling will be sharing this week. The links to her books and where you can find her online will follow her wonderful, unique Christmas memory. I want to thank her for sharing this story with us and welcome her to my blog.


 I live in Salem, Massachusetts.  I love Halloween and all things autumn, but winter holds just as much magic for me and my family.  The snow.  The holiday lights.  The smell of cookies…varied, copious cookies just waiting to be devoured.  And most nights in December, the clang of a bell heralds the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Present standing on the sidewalk outside.  He’s part of the Salem Trolley’s “A Christmas Carol” tour, and he always makes me smile.

            We love the Dickens classic in our house.  My husband Dan reads A Christmas Carol to our twin boys, Connor and Geoffrey, at bedtime, and we watch every film version cable TV affords.  The story holds so much optimism and light, both of which we can all agree the world is in desperate need.  If a man like Ebenezer Scrooge can find redemption, there’s hope for us all.

            When Salem’s Ghost of Christmas Present appears in his flowing robe and holly-wreath headpiece, the city seems a little kinder.  The magic of childhood rushes back to me, and I’m filled with the giving spirit.  I want to feed the hungry, hug the friendless, and do whatever I can to protect those with little or no voice.

            Call me corny, Pollyanna, or any other name you like.  I see your point.  But I still believe in love and humanity.  And I’m grateful for the ability each one of us has to make the world a better place.  As an author, I hope my stories do just that, and while we’re speaking of spirits, I’d like to share one story in particular.

            Christmastime always makes me think of my maternal grandfather, Poppy.  He loved the holidays and died just before Thanksgiving in 2007.  My twins were three at the time and only got to meet him once…while he was alive, that is.

            In mid-December of that year, Dan and I took them to my parents’ house in Florida for the weekend.  Twice during our visit, the boys’ gazes shot to my mom’s side at the same time.

            Both of them looked, but it was Geoffrey who spoke.  “Poppy,” he said, pointing.

            Each time, Mom nodded but said nothing.  The boys confirmed what she already sensed.

            Later that day, she, Dan, and I were talking by the pool.  The boys played close by.

            Geoffrey piped up, and his voice was adamant.  “No, no, Poppy.  Light on.”  He glanced to his side while his hands fiddled with a SpiderMan action figure.  “No light off, Poppy.  Light ON.”

            Dan gaped at him.  “Did he just say what I think he said?”

            Mom turned.  “What?”

            “I think he was talking to Poppy,” I said.

            Wide-eyed, Geoffrey’s gaze traveled up to a point about nine feet high, right beside the pool.  “Poppy, why are you flying?”

            Mom raised her eyebrows.  “Now I heard that!”

            Needless to say, the event made her weekend.

            On our return home, Geoffrey scampered into the house, then halted in front of our Christmas tree, whose lights were off.  He grinned.  “Hi, Poppy!”

            A minute later—by which time Geoffrey ignored the tree—Connor ran into the house.  He stopped and stared at the same spot his twin had.

            With a smile, he pointed to it.  “Poppy!”

            I felt my grandfather’s presence, strong as could be.  It was a reminder that those we’ve loved and lost are never far away.

            Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season!



Her buy links are the following:

Flight of the Raven

Soul of the Wolf

The Cauldron Stirred

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It’s Still Magic To Me

Iona Morrison The first time I saw this image I couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking about as she looked out into the stormy evening sky. I found myself pondering over it for days. The dark clouds, her still form, and the early morning hour showing up on the clock,all drew me in. Did she see something in the heavens not visible to others?  I wanted to know.

The woman in this picture reminds me of a character in my work in progress. Writing inspiration can come in a moment. Something visual or something I hear stirs my imagination and the story is off and running in a whole new direction. This picture became a part of an amazing scene in my latest project. Stretching my writing skills in a whole new direction. I had so much fun writing the scene. My character tried to explain to me what I couldn’t see.

This story also has a new character that got inside of my head. I could see him clearly, his mannerisms, and the way he talked. I can only hope my words do him justice, and my readers get an idea of their own as to how he looks as they listen to his words. Writing is personal, I lose myself in every page that I write, but I find a small piece of myself there too.

About six years ago I was home alone for ten months when my husband went to work in New Jersey after hurricane Sandy. It was during this time of solitude that I found my inner landscape, as I like to think of it. I also found my creativity and this writer was born. Harriet Tubman said “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.” I qualify as a dreamer. I spend a good deal of time dreaming about the folks in my head. Thankful! It is still magic to me.

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Why I Write

“There is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” ~Vladimir Nabokov

One of my characters has done it again. Reba, my very prime and matronly character, has managed to pull a few words of wisdom out of that sweet head of hers and has opened a path forward to another book while at the same time sending readers off on another few twists in turns in the story. Where does she come up with this stuff. Lol. I love how her mind works or is it my mind. It all seems to blend together in there.

It never seizes to amaze me when my characters give me the way forward in the story. I love watching new characters come to life and the story unfold page after page. It keeps me intrigued. I have to know how the book will end so I keep writing.  I’m not a plotter. I admit it. I don’t have drawings,(except my crude drawing of Blue Cove) or outlines, and I never know from the beginning what the end of the book will be. The first sentence hits me and I’m off and running. It may not be the best way to write, but somehow it has worked for me. When I hit a bump, I wait and listen; read and re-read until something they say jumps out at me. Even a picture can often jump-start the story and I hold on through all the twists and turns.

In my work in progress I’m working on a new character that I’m loving. He’s unique and unlike any other character I have conjured up so far. I love his actions, and manner of speaking. He’s slowly evolving and letting me know why he’s important to the story.

One scene leads to another, words fill the pages, and before you know I’m hooked. I do love this writing gig, even though at times it can be brutal trying to get all the words clamoring in my head out on paper. When I write the words “The End” there is a sense of satisfaction that I did it.

A Great Weekend!

Iona Morrison

I attended the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference this past weekend. My head is still spinning with all the great things that I learned and experienced. One of the highlights for me was having lunch with the President, Editor and Chief of The Wild Rose Press, Rhonda Penders and fourteen other authors in the area who call Wild Rose Press their home. The Wild Rose is a great small publisher who treats their authors well. I am pleased to be one of their authors for all five of my books with a sixth being considered now.

Hearing Diana Gabaldon speak on the first night of the conference was another highlight. Diana’s story is amazing. She has
three degrees in Science, plus one of the most incredible success stories as an author. She is the author of the award-winning,
#1 NYT bestselling Outlander Novels. The series is published in 26 countries and in 23 languages. There are over 28 million
copies in print world-wide. Diana is also serving as the Co-producer of the Outlander TV series. Her success story allows you
to dream while still being realistic.
Sherry Thomas was a joy to hear. She came to American from China when she was thirteen years old. She learned English by
reading Romance and Science Fiction Novels. Her sense of humor kept me laughing through her entire speech. Success for her
was a longer climb and more like what most writers have to go through. Sherry writes Historical Romance, Historical Mystery,
and Young Adult Fantasy.
I found my niche in mystery with a touch of paranormal and romance. Before I ever thought of writing I was first a reader. Reading
has let me explore my world and adventure to new places. And now with audio books I can listen when I want to rest my eyes.
I want to leave you with a few pictures of a great weekend.

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