Susan Lyons Guest Blogs…

Today I am thrilled to welcome back one of my favorite authors, Susan Lyons.
Susan’s latest release is a novella in the anthology Unwrap Me, which is available now!

Today Susan is blogging about the upcoming holidays and shares a little about her story in Unwrap Me

***

Tis the Season to be Jolly – Or Is It?

unwrap-me-coverI’m delighted to be visiting with Jennifer again. Thanks so much for inviting me.

We’re heading into the holiday season. How do I know? Well, I have a novella in a holiday anthology called Unwrap Me (Kensington Aphrodisia). (And if Santa’s interested in what I’d like to see under my Christmas tree, that cover model would do just fine, thanks very much!)

For some people, Christmas is a religious holiday. For others, perhaps you celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. For many of us, it’s less about religion than about holidays and, at least in theory, holiday spirit. December is supposed to be a time for merriment, happy family times, peace and goodwill toward men (and hopefully women too!).

It’s a pretty image, isn’t it? But it’s not everyone’s reality. For some people, Christmas is a sad time because they don’t have family and friends to share it with. For others, the family get-togethers are marked more with tension than with joy. And for many, the commercialism is a real turn-off. Among my friends, I’m noticing a trend to emphasize basic values like love and sharing. People aren’t buying a ton of expensive gifts. Instead they’re making gifts, or buying from local craftspeople, or sharing activities together rather than exchanging gifts. Some groups of families, friends, or co-workers have a Secret Santa system, where, rather than giving gifts to everyone, each person pulls a name from the hat and only gives a gift to that one person.

I used that concept in my novella, “Unwrap Me.” My heroine, Jude Benedetto, is one of those people who does NOT love Christmas. She says the season’s crass and commercial, but the deeper truth is, some really bad stuff happened to her at Christmas. She has turned into a Grinch and tries to banish Christmas from her life. However, her office does a Secret Santa draw, and her girlfriend fixes it so that she gets Jude’s name because she has a very special gift in mind for her: a hot firefighter, to banish the winter chill. Nick Buchanan (whose mom named him after St. Nick) happens to love Christmas, and he’s disappointed by Jude’s refusal to have anything to do with it. So he comes up with a secret plan to win her over – and it involves some inventive (but not expensive) gifts. Nick now has twelve very sexy days and nights to persuade Jude to open her heart and trust in him, and rediscover the loving spirit of Christmas.

What are your feelings about the approaching holiday season? Do you celebrate a religious holiday? Do you have family get-togethers? What do you most look forward to? What do you find the most stressful? If someone was to give you the perfect gift, what would it be? What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

I’ll play Santa and give a copy of Unwrap Me to one of the people who comments, and Jennifer can select the winner.

Whatever your plans for the holidays – whether it’s big parties or quiet times curled up by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate – I hope you have a wonderful time. And if you’re looking for gift-giving ideas, remember that nothing beats a good book! 

(Visit my website at http://www.susanlyons.ca for info about my books, excerpts, my monthly contest, notes on how my stories originated, newsletter sign-up and other goodies.)

***

Thank you so much Susan for that great blog…readers, don’t forget to comment.  
As Susan mentioned, I’ll randomly draw one winner from the comments to win a copy of
Unwrap Me.
 
Winner will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 23 so be sure to return to see if you won!
Also, remember to read the contest rules (can be found in the sidebar) before entering!

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39 Responses to Susan Lyons Guest Blogs…

  1. Helen says:

    This story sounds good

    I love christmas for me it is a time for fun with my family a big get together. Here in Australia it is normally a very hot day but we have the traditional hot Chrissy lunch I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    A Chrissy present I would really love (way to expensive) is for all of my family to spend it in a country that is cold I would love a white Christmas maybe one day.
    Have Fun
    Helen

  2. Susan Lyons says:

    Oh, Helen, I’d happily trade places with you right now. I’ve been to Australia (Queensland and New South Wales) and loved it – and love the idea of sunshine and warmth right about now. Vancouver, BC, where I live, doesn’t get much snow (none yet this year) and the temperatures don’t get too low, but we do have lots of grey skies and rain. Kind of gloomy…

    And yes, even though Australia is a great place, it sure is expensive to travel to and from. Well, I hope you get your white Christmas one day – and in the meantime, thank heavens at least you can visit snow country in books, if not in real life.

  3. Jolene says:

    well to be honest, i am not a christmas person either. I do love the christmas eve candlelight service at our church..its beautiful and meaningful. If i didnt have kids christmas would be probably pretty quiet with me, especially this year, with hubby leaving for Iraq.. Im forcing it on myself for the kids sake..id prefer it just go away..
    anyway.. just wanted to pop in and say hi to Susan, but dont enter me in the drawing, i already have a copy of Unwrap Me.. and cant wait to dive in and read it..

  4. Mary Bray says:

    Susan, you’re story sounds so good, with a great premise!

    One of my favourite Christmases took place last year, when my daughter and I found ourselves with very little money with which to celebrate like we used to, so we made presents for each other. We set such a low spending limit that we had to be truly creative in finding just the right projects. I found that I enjoyed giving her those gifts last year far, far more than the more expensive store-bought gifts I’d given her in the past.

    There is currently snow in southern Ontario, Canada, lots of it (!), but unfortunately none here in Toronto. Even so, I have my fingers crossed for a white Christmas.

    Helen, I hope you can enjoy a snowy Christmas some time in your future 😉

    Mary

  5. Lois says:

    I definitely love Christmas. . . the look, the smells, the colors. . . but it’s also when I get to break out the new and old favorite Christmas themed books! 🙂 Anyway, here, it’s usually quiet and all. . . and sure isn’t going to be expensive no how, though normally it’s not that way anyway. It’s just the three of us, sis, Mom and me, and the point of the holiday isn’t to spend ridiculous amounts of money, after all. 🙂

    Lois

  6. Susan Lyons says:

    Hi Jolene! I can sure understand your feelings, especially with your husband going to Iraq this year, but I do think it’s important to give the kids a special time. Activities like picking out a tree and trimming it together can be so much fun. Personally, I think Christmas is a time to focus on the simple things and on being together – like maybe making ornaments or cookies together. I hate to see people rushing around frantically, feeling pressured to buy fancy gifts. To me, that’s NOT the Christmas spirit!

    Anyhow, all the best to you and your family, and I sure hope your hubby comes back safe and sound.

  7. Susan Lyons says:

    Mary, yes, yes, yes! What you did last year sounds wonderful. I think that’s the kind of thing kids really remember (and so do adults). It’s easy to buy a gift (well, it is if you have the money!), but it’s much more thoughtful to invest your own time, skill and emotion in making something. Good for you. Hope you’re doing the same thing this year.

  8. Susan Lyons says:

    No, Lois, I sure don’t think that’s the point of the holiday. Wouldn’t it be a fun challenge to have a great holiday and do all sorts of special things without spending a penny more than you would in any other month of the year?

  9. Roxanne says:

    Hi Susan;
    I’m a new RWA member and was at the GVC meeting this past Saturday. (Apparently I slipped in after the new member intros. Your talk was fantastic, by the way.)I wasn’t one of the book winners then, so maybe I will be this time around. I hope so; your story premise sounds great.

    Roxanne

  10. Susan Lyons says:

    Hi Roxanne. How nice to see someone else from Vancouver here. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to meet you on Saturday. Next time, come at 10:30 for Romance Writing 101, okay? I’m glad you enjoyed the talk on heroine/hero archetypes. Happy writing!

  11. azteclady says:

    Welcome, Susan! *waving*

    Here’s wishing you great luck with the new release, as always!

    I mostly try to spend time with my loved ones–given that I live in a different country that most of my relatives, it takes some creativity, and some times it means chatting online or just phone calls. But the point for us is the time together and not so much the presents (not that I can recall anyone *complaining* about those, mind 😉 ).

    Back when all the grandkids were younger, my mother wrote and hosted a live Nativity story with the kids acting out the parts of angels, Joseph, Mary, etc. Never failed to bring tears to everyone’s eyes–whether christian or not!

    And of course, the food! (Yeah, I miss the food 😦 )

  12. Susan Lyons says:

    Hi, azteclady, and thanks for the best wishes. Too bad to be separated from so many relatives (though I bet there are times when that’s a good thing).

    The Nativity play sounds like a lot of fun. Do families ever do that sort of thing anymore, or is everyone too darned busy to spend that kind of time together?

    As for the food – well, that’s one of the best parts. Until January comes and you step on the scales and go yikes!

  13. Maureen says:

    I am looking forward to the holiday season. We usually go to church but the best part of Christmas for me is getting together with my family for the day.

  14. Susan Lyons says:

    Maureen, I hope you and your family have a lovely Christmas day. I bet you have lots of great traditions.

  15. azteclady says:

    Well, these days the kidlets are all over ten, so not so much on acting out the Nativity play, but we still sing la letanía (Mary and Joseph ask for shelter in Bethlehem and the innkeepers refuse over and over until they offer them their humble barn…)

    And singing carols and usually the unwrapping of gifts comes with some sort of game… it’s fun.

    (distance from my relatives: can be difficult at times, but more often *cough*sister*cough* it’s been a blessing :innocence: )

  16. Teresa W says:

    I don’t really enjoy Christmas as it gets more and more expensive every year. Do love spending time with family and eating and we always play poker at the end of the night!

  17. Susan Lyons says:

    Azteclady, I know this is going to sound kind of lame, but when you mentioned unwrapping gifts, and games, it made me remember a Christmas tradition. I’m an only child, and my parents would go do their thing in the kitchen Christmas afternoon and leave me with an elderly aunt. We’d get down on the floor in front of the fire, with the tree beside us and carols playing, and play pick-up-sticks. An absolutely simple game, nothing glitzy or high tech about it, and we always had a blast.

    By the way, re families and distance, the Wild Ride series I’m writing right now stars 4 sisters who figure distance is a blessing. Except, I’m not letting them maintain distance because they all have to head home for the baby sister’s wedding. [evil grin]

  18. Fedora says:

    Hi, Susan! I love the family and friends part of the holidays, but I have to say that I’m not a big fan of the “gotta give everyone a present” part that sometimes takes over. I’m a lazy slug, and although I enjoy remembering people I love with gifts, I dislike feeling the pressure to do it so commercially 🙂 It is a lot of fun to do for the kids though, and we also make it a point to involve them in some giving, too!

  19. Fedora says:

    Oops, forgot to say, please don’t enter me 🙂

  20. Susan Lyons says:

    Fedora, I much prefer the approach of giving gifts during the year, when it strikes my fancy, rather than feeling pressured to do it on a particular day.

    BTW, did you know you won my book over at the Aphrodisia Authors blog on Monday??? Email me at susan@susanlyons.ca to collect.

  21. azteclady says:

    Susan, I don’t see how it can be lame when you had such a great time!

    Oh that evil grin looks positively mean… tell us more! 😀

  22. Susan Lyons says:

    Isn’t it lame for an erotic romance author to be amused by pick-up-sticks? And yes, I still would be, if you got me started. I love Scrabble too. Just an old-fashioned girl at heart, I guess.

    As for the evil grin (there must be an emoticon for that, right? – I just don’t know how to make it)… well, I have 3 unlucky in love older sisters all coming home to baby sister’s wedding. The sisters love each other but have never got along very well, and now they’re charged with the responsibility of working together to plan an amazing wedding on 2 weeks notice. And of course, because I write romance, each one is going to be seriously distracted along the journey because she’s going to meet an amazingly hot guy. And they’re going to find out that their luck has changed, when it comes to love.

    In the first book, SEX DRIVE (Dec 2009 – and yes, that’s not a typo, it’s 2009), the oldes sis comes home to Vancouver, BC from Sydney, Australia by planes. I’m now writing book 2, working title SHAKE, RATTLE & ROLL, where sister #2 comes home from Montreal by trains. (And yes, sister #3 comes home by automobiles, from Santa Cruz.) Book 4 is baby sis’s story, and it’s set on a cruise ship.

  23. Jennifer Y says:

    OOOH, I can’t wait for those books, Susan…but yes, that’s a long time to wait 😦

  24. Anita Birt says:

    Thanks for the pre-Christmas reminder. Our family are celebrating without us this year. Bill finds travel too difficult – and who can blame him. We will celebrate with friends or dine in splendor by ourselves at the Fairmont Empress. Our son is visiting with us this week-end, a pre-Christmas treat. In the past we have spent Christmases in different countries and enjoyed them all.Have a merry one Sue and make wish to find that gorgeous man under you pillow or in your bed!!!

  25. Stacie Mc says:

    My family always gets together for Christmas. The whole humongous group of us. We are all really close and enjoy ourselves greatly. For me, it wouldn’t be a holiday without my family.

  26. RobynL says:

    we celebrate a religous holiday and have a family get-together; it is somewhat less of a good time since we lost both parents within the last 5 yrs.
    The most stressful for me is wondering what the weather will be at the time we have to travel and others travelling also.

  27. Susan Lyons says:

    Jennifer, you can bet I’ll be reminding people when the time comes.

    Anita, I’m glad you’ve had lots of years of interesting Christmases. This year you and Bill can draw on the memories.

  28. Susan Lyons says:

    Stacie, how lovely. I hope the whole humongous group of you have a fabulously wonderful time this year.

    Robyn, how sad to lose both parents. It definitely changes things. But it also can sharpen your appreciation for your family members who are still alive. And of course, you do get to share memories, and that’s always a guarantee of some laughs and some tears. And what would the holidays be without laughs and tears? I hope the weather works out for you and your family.

  29. Lori T says:

    I am looking forward to the holiday season as well as dreading it a bit. I love the holidays because of the famiy time. This year I am dreading it a bit because I just don’t know how we will actually afford it because we have a large family and at times it seems quite overwhelming.

    Susan, this sounds great!!

  30. Caffey says:

    Hi Susan and Jennifer! I have this book on my way to me so don’t put me in the contest. Can’t tell you how excited I am about this book! There’s just something about stories with the holiday themes in them that have me look forward to the holidays. Without talking too much, cuz I tend to do that, I did lose my mom before Christmas a few years ago and very difficult for me to find joy during this time. Since the first Christmas without her, we get a new Angel ornament for the Christmas tree and too, my daughter now watching a favorite movie of my mom’s that she loved to watch, ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE. We do that on Christmas eve. For Christmas, with the kids now young adults, we just exchange one gift with each other and share the holiday cooking and eating together. But too watching some fun movies and playing games! Its hard to get everyones schedule together otherwise but this few days of the year we wouldn’t miss this time together as a family.

  31. Pam P says:

    I like the Christmas season, even if getting ready for it is hectic for some, I think more people are giving, and forgiving. We catch up with some we don’t see as often during the year with life busy or those living away who try to get home for the holidays. We have a larger family, and friends are always welcome, even last minute, trips are made from home to home. My brother was always bringing someone who had no one else around, and he loved dressing up as Santa with the sack of presents for the kids. When I was young, we’d go around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols, then go to Midnight mass. Christmas Eve is the fish feast, with the night owls staying to play a new game someone got; other years helping with last-minute wrapping once the kids were asleep.

  32. Fedora says:

    Ooh, thank you, Susan 🙂 And thanks for the teaser–now I just have to distract myself with other books for a whole year! (Clearly the impatient type ;))

    And yep, I definitely prefer the gifting when the perfect gift strikes timing, too! I also think that sometimes the focus can be a bit too much on the trappings (gifts, decorations, etc.) when I believe the time is truly about celebrating the true Gift and also sharing the spirit of love and the joy of giving and being with each other. Off the soapbox now! Bring on the Christmas cookies! 🙂

  33. Susan Lyons says:

    Lori (and everyone else), given the state of the economy, it seems to me this is a year to cut back on spending money on gifts and be creative. Little kids are pretty much thrilled with anything you give them; adults are (hopefully) mature enough to opt into a “pick one name” plan or to forego gift-giving entirely, or to do something like go together to a soup kitchen and donate time. It’s the older kids who are really the problem – they tend to want the same techno-gadgets that “everyone else” is getting. But hey, maybe this is an opportunity for a lesson in values.

    As Fedora and others have said, Christmas (and the other religious holidays) are about way more than who gets the most presents.

    Caffey, sympathies on losing your mom, and especially at this time of year. It does make the holiday season more poignant, but it sounds as if your family is developing some lovely new traditions, in remembrance of her. (And thanks for ordering Unwrap Me!)

    Pam, it sounds as if you and your family are going to have a lovely time. I hope you get an opportunity to catch up with family and friends, and maybe even make a new friend or two.

  34. Ann Roth says:

    Susan- You always have such great ideas for stories! This one sounds very good.

    I’m Jewish and my husband was raised in the Unitarian church, so we celebrate everything. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice. Recently, we started a tradition: we throw a huge Winter Solstice party (on a weekend evening as close to the actual solstice as possible). Lots of great food, great company, and great fun. Everyone seems to love that.

  35. Susan Lyons says:

    Ann, how lovely to celebrate everything! I like the idea of a Solstice party. Have a wonderful time.

  36. Deidre says:

    Oooh, I love holiday anthologies. You wouldn’t even have to gift wrap Mr. Cover Model, I’d take him as is. LOL

    Usually it’s the guy that is Grinchy, so it’s interesting to see the girl in this role. I would love for my man to come up with inventive gifts. He just asks me what I want. Whatever happened to just surprising someone.

    Deidre

  37. Susan Lyons says:

    Oh, Deidre, I don’t think we want to wrap that guy up, do we? LOL.

    Yes, I had fun with the role reversal in this story. Nick’s mom absolutely loves Christmas and she always made it a special time for the family, so both her sons have grown up loving it too.

    As for gifts, I’m not sure what the problem is. Maybe it’s that guys have no imagination – or maybe it’s that they’re scared they’ll get the wrong thing and disappoint us…

  38. Sue A. says:

    Without any little children in our family we don’t do a full Christmas, but I enjoy the season just the same. I just like the spirit of it, the lights, the sounds and of course I enjoy all that holiday food and holiday theme books too.

  39. Susan Lyons says:

    Hi Sue. Are you Sue A. from Vancouver? – If so, I’m sending a wave in your direction on a lovely Saturday morning.

    Yes, the lights are one of my favorite things. And tree decorations, especially home-made ones. Once upon a time I was into doing things like stringing popcorn and cranberry chains. A lot of work, but fun when you were doing it with friends, listening to holiday music and sipping some eggnog or mulled wine.

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