Christmas Memories with Morton S. Gray

Earlier this week we celebrated the release of Morton S. Gray’s new novella, Christmas at Borteen Bay. Today we welcome her onto the blog to talk about her memories of Christmas past. Do any of her Christmas traditions match up with yours? 🎅

Writing Christmas at Borteen Bay, my first Christmas novella, made me think about what Christmas means to me and to examine my childhood memories.

We always had a very traditional Christmas when I was growing up. Mom and Dad would take us to choose a real Christmas tree each year and there would often be a disagreement about the size and shape of the tree. I can remember at least one occasion when Dad had to cut the top off the tree to fit it into the room!

We would then open the boxes of decorations retrieved from the loft. Cue more angst as we tried to get the lights to work – in those days you had to check each bulb, as just one not screwed in correctly would result in the whole set not working. It was always a relief when the tree was at last illuminated and then we could get out the decorations, some of which were quite old. The glass icicles Mom’s Dad had bought home in the war from goodness knows where (I still put these on my tree now). The cardboard glitter house with Santa on the roof, which had been on Mom’s Christmas trees for as long as she could remember. The glass candy cane my nan bought for me. The Santa and sleigh for the fireplace shelf. It always seemed (seems) magical to get these items out of the boxes.

My father’s employer usually gave staff a Christmas bird and a bottle of alcohol as a Christmas bonus. They must have had some unwritten rating system, as if you got a chicken and a bottle of cheap sherry, it seemed they weren’t pleased with your performance. One year, Dad got a huge turkey and an expensive bottle of whisky. Mom wasn’t very keen on how the turkey sat on the refrigerator shelf and it was almost too big for the oven, but I guess Dad must have worked well that year.

We used to have much deeper snow when I was young. I had a huge sledge which my uncle had made. On one occasion I took it to the local park with friends. Four of us hurtled down a steep bank and hit a bump at the bottom. The three friends at the front fell off into a snow drift and I was the only one still sitting on the sledge.

We placed empty pillow cases at the bottom of our beds for Santa to fill. At that time, I shared a room with my sister, who was seven years younger. I always enjoyed watching her open her presents before I looked at my own. One Christmas morning, my sister woke me very concerned that Santa hadn’t been. Our pillow cases were still empty. We went to tell our parents and discovered that their room was festooned with Christmas gifts. Mom and Dad must have overslept their ‘Santa alarm’. My sister and I then had to guess which gift was meant for each of us – which was actually quite fun. A Christmas to remember for sure!

Christmas at Borteen Bay is now available to purchase as an eBook and in audio. Click here for purchasing options: https://www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/christmas-at-borteen-bay/

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2018 from Choc Lit

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Merry Christmas everyone, Happy Holidays!
Thank you for all your fabulous support in 2017. We look forward to sharing more exciting releases and fabulous Choc Lit & our new Ruby books with you in 2018.

Love from the Choc Lit Team x
(Lyn, Lusana, Sarah, Jane O, Liz, Jane E, Pia, Paul, Marie, Jessamy & Berni)

And now for some messages from our Choc Lit Santas …

juliet Santa photo Juliet Archer:
“Wishing all of you Choc Lit cheer at Christmas, and some great reads in 2018!”
The Importance of Being Emma
Jan Santa photo Jan Brigden:
“Thank you dear readers for your terrific support this year. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year, full of joy, peace and good health (with the odd choccie or two for good measure, of course!) Enjoy the festivities!
As Weekends Go
Angela Britnell - Santa! Angela Britnell:
“Wishing all our wonderful readers a peaceful and happy holiday season and an excess of books and chocolate!”
You're The One That I Want
Valerie Olteanu - Isabeall Connor - SantaLiv Thomas - Isabella Connor - Santa! Isabella Connor (Liv & Val): 
“Nollaig shona dhaoibh.
Wishing all Choc Lit readers and their families, a wonderful Christmas, and a happy 2018.”
An Irish Promise
Victoria  Cornwall Santas Victoria Cornwall:
Thank you to all those who have read my debut novels this year. I am humbled you chose to read them and very grateful for the support you have shown me. To all Choc Lit readers, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy,  prosperous and healthy New Year. You are all amazing.”
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Christina Courtenay - Santa! Christina Courtenay:
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year! Hope you have time to relax with a good book in front of the fire; chocolate, wine, mince pies or other goodies to hand – enjoy!
Velvet Cloak of Moonlight
Kirsty Ferry - Santa! Kirsty Ferry: 
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful New Year, all filled with only good things. Lots of love, Kirsty xxx”
A Little Bit of Christmas Magic
Kathryn Freeman - Santa! Kathryn Freeman:
“Christmas greetings to all our lovely readers. I hope Santa brings you both a first and A Second Christmas Wish. And that 2018 will be a fabulous year for you. All it takes is A little Christmas Faith ☺”
A Little Christmas Faith
Morton S Gray - Santa Morton S. Gray:
Wishing all of our readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2018. Thank you for supporting The Girl on the Beach this year. Hoping you have a peaceful and fun time whatever you choose to do over the Christmas season. May your troubles find resolution and your dreams come true. Mx
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Liz Harris - Santa Liz Harris: 
“Dear Readers, Thank you for your friendship and support throughout the year.  I hope you’ve all had a truly wonderful year – a year full of happy memories.  Hopefully, 2018 will be an even better year for you.  A happy, healthy 2018 to you and your families – may all of your dreams come true. Love, Liz xx”
Little Girl Lost
Caroline James - Santa Caroline James:
“Warmest wishes to each and every Choc Lit reader, may all your Christmas dreams come true in 2018, Caroline xx”
The Best Boomerville Hotel
Margaret James - Santa Margaret James:
Thank you so much for all the support you’ve given Choc Lit authors this year. We really appreciate your feedback, comments and reviews, so please keep them coming? We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas filled with peace, love, happiness and delicious things to eat. All the Choc Lit and Ruby authors are looking forward to entertaining you in 2018 and in the meantime we’re sending you virtual chocolate and champagne!
Girl in Red Velvet
Marie Laval - Santa Marie Laval:
“A very French Joyeux Noel and all Best Wishes for the New Year!”
Little Pink Taxi
Jane Lovering - Santa! Jane Lovering: 
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported Choc Lit this year, readers, reviewers, bloggers, reading panel, even people who just come to look at our photos and laugh. Let me wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2018 to come!”
Christmas at the Little Village School
Hannah Pearl - Santa Hannah Pearl:
“Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and best wishes for 2018.  I’m so happy to have joined the Choc Lit family this year, and look forward to all of the wonderful stories that the next year will bring from this lovely team.”
Little Black Book
Lynda Stacey Santa - Santa Lynda Stacey:
Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas… along with lots of turkey, sprouts, figgy pudding and mince pies..! (Obviously not on all the same plate) xxxx”
House of Christmas Secrets
Berni Stevens - Santa Berni Stevens:
Wishing you all a fabulous festive time and lots of happy reading! Love Berni xxx
Revenge is Sweet
Christine Stovell - Santa Christine Stovell: 
“Nadolig Llawen!  Wishing you every happiness for Christmas and the New Year.”
Follow a Star
Carol Thomas - Santa Carol Thomas:
“I wish you a merry Christmas filled with festive cheer, and a very happy new year. I can’t wait to share my Ruby Fiction book with you in 2018 – proving that dreams can come true!”
Regret Me Not
Evonne Wareham - Santa Evonne Wareham:
“Wishing you a happy and peaceful Christmas, and a brilliant New Year, with time to read the books you enjoy most and maybe to find a few new authors too.”
What Happens at Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL!

Happy Publication Day Kathryn Freeman and A Second Christmas Wish!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Especially now that we’re celebrating the release of the festive paperback of the season – A Second Christmas Wish by Kathryn Freeman! Kathryn has joined us on the blog today to talk a little bit about the book and also her first magical memories of Christmas (which of course include satsumas!) …

Today is an exciting day for me – it’s the paperback publication day for A Second Christmas Wish. The book features William, a very special little boy, who sadly doesn’t believe in Father Christmas.

When I was writing it, memories of Christmas when I was a child came flooding back. Unlike poor William, I had no hesitation in believing in the man in the red suit. And why wouldn’t I? A few weeks before Christmas I would write him a note, letting him know what I wanted for Christmas. Sometimes he even wrote back (it was years later I learnt those handwritten notes, beautifully penned in black ink, had come from my neighbour). Then on Christmas Eve, full of dizzy anticipation, I’d put my stocking on the end of my bed and dive under the covers. I was desperate to get to sleep quickly, because the faster I did, the earlier Christmas Day would arrive.

The first thing I did on Christmas morning, was wriggle my toes. Even now I can remember the joy of feeling the heavy weight of a present laden stocking. And presents weren’t just jammed into the red stocking, they spilt over onto the bed. Bubbling with excitement I’d rush to wake my brother and together we’d lug all our presents into mum and dad’s bedroom to show them. Little did we realise our poor parents knew all about the presents, because only a few hours ago they’d been wrapping them up! But my brother and I didn’t see their tired faces (who wants to be woken at dawn when you’ve got to bed late after a Christmas Eve party? Something I only appreciated when I had kids of my own). We only saw what Father Christmas had brought us.

It didn’t matter that when I dug into the stocking, the presents I unwrapped included a satsuma, a free poster from the newspaper and a Mickey Mouse painting set recycled from last year because my parents had seen it unopened in one of the cupboards. It didn’t matter because Father Christmas had handpicked and delivered these presents for me. I knew he had, because the whiskey we’d left out for him had been drunk, and the carrots we’d left for Rudolph had been nibbled.

Believing in Father Christmas is what made Christmas so special for me as a child (as you can see, it certainly wasn’t the presents…!). That’s the Christmas I hope I gave my own children (though the orange I left them was a chocolate one). And that’s the Christmas Melissa would love to give her own son, William. Perhaps, just perhaps, Daniel, William’s new tennis coach, can help her 🙂

A Second Christmas Wish is available as a paperback and in eBook from all good book retailers and platforms. Click HERE for purchasing options. 

For more information on Kathryn:
Vist her website – www.kathrynfreeman.co.uk
Follow her on Twitter – @KathrynFreeman
Like her on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman

The Santa Dash: Part Four by Victoria Cornwall

Round Robin vc

There’s been so much mystery and intrigue in this Round Robin that we honestly have had no clue where it’s going to go next! But no the Santas are on the run and it’s time for Victoria Cornwall to take up the reins for the penultimate part of our story…

Remember to read right until the end if you want to take part in today’s competition. In order to enjoy the story, make sure you read Part One by Kathryn Freeman HERE, Part Two by Clare Chase HERE and Part Three by Jane Lovering HERE before you start on Victoria’s extract.

The Santa Dash: Part Four

Sally, who had somehow hitched a lift with two burly rugby players, enthusiastically waved at Ellie as she passed her. Ellie smiled and waved back, but, in reality, she was struggling. Her trousers billowed like two elongated balloons whenever the sea wind caught her and if she was not careful she was at risk of being blown off course. It was time to sort them out or she would never finish the race.

Ellie attempted to hitch them up as she jogged, but her suit had other ideas and fought back. Thanks to one dragging trouser hem, a mistimed step and being temporarily blinded by her hat, Ellie finally tripped up and went sprawling to the floor. Self preservation made her keep her head down, as a few trailing Santas jumped over her prone body. Finally, when all the grunting and puffing around her went quiet, she dared to look up. A Santa, with a large stomach that swayed to its own rhythm, was running towards her. Relief flooded through her when she saw it was Jamie.

He squatted beside her. ‘Are you hurt or are you just taking a rest?’ Despite the quip he looked genuinely concerned.

Ellie sat up and removed her beard. Well, a girl could only take so much.

‘I think I’ve twisted my ankle a bit,’ she said, testing the movement inside her boot. Her boot was so big it didn’t even move. Ellie winced and pulled off her hat too. ‘I’m not going to finish now. My ankle is not too bad, but I can’t run on it.’ Ellie felt as miserable as she sounded. She had hoped to raise money for her ward and now she would have to face everyone and confess she hadn’t finished.

‘Are you sponsored too?’ asked Jamie. Ellie looked up at him and was surprised to discover that he was gazing at her lips.

‘Yes,’ she whispered. He really did have the bluest eyes. They were the sort of eyes that entered your soul and touched something deep inside you.

Jamie swallowed and looked up to meet her own lingering gaze. He suddenly smiled. It was enough to break the spell that held her.

‘No problem,’ he said cheerfully under his beard, ‘I have an idea.’ Ellie noticed the glint in his eyes had returned and grew wary. ‘Don’t look so worried,’ he reassured her. ‘I’ll carry you.’

Ellie found herself looking at the world upside down, ‘You are a fireman, aren’t you?’ she asked, speaking to the profile of a well shaped bottom in scarlet trousers. He also had good taste in cologne, as he smelt far better than any Santa she had ever met before … or any other man, come to that.

‘How did you guess?’

‘Just had an inkling.’ She tried to crane her neck to look at him. He looked so serious and determined. He was a man on a mission to finish the race … or he was finding her too heavy. She hoped it wasn’t the latter. ‘Is that why you’re so well known?’ she asked.

‘I think it has more to do with F.A.C.E.’

‘Face?’

‘Firemen Against Christmas Exclusion.’ Jamie repositioned her slightly which made her grunt in a very unladylike way. She hoped he hadn’t noticed. ‘We raise money to ensure families who have lost their homes to fire have Christmas presents for their children.’

Ellie smiled. ‘That explains a lot.’ She wanted to ask more questions, but Jamie was beginning to puff. Talking, while running and carrying a woman, was perhaps too much to ask for, which was a pity as she would love to know what music he liked. Did he have a pet? A girlfriend? A wife? Oh please, not a wife! Despite their physical closeness of having his arm threaded through her thighs and one of her legs hitched over his shoulder, she felt she might be taking advantage of the situation if she asked too many questions right now. She returned her gaze to his bottom and fought the urge to play it like a bongo drum. This race was turning out rather fun after all.

Jamie came to a stop and eased Ellie off his shoulder. They had passed the finish line and she hadn’t even noticed or cared. Perhaps he would finally take off his beard and she would see the face of the man who had carried her. They stood for a moment, looking at each other with renewed interest. His hands still held hers to keep her steady, although they both knew she could stand without him.

‘Jamie!’ shrieked a woman’s voice. They turned to see Melissa hurrying up to them, her auburn locks flowing gracefully in the wind. Jamie let go Ellie’s hands and braced himself while Ellie absently ran her hand through her own hair. Her fingers snagged on a knot and she hastily gave up.

‘Melissa,’ Jamie breathed as his face drained of all colour.

‘You know her?’ asked Ellie, needlessly.

‘Yes,’ he replied, his voice as brittle as ice. ‘She was my fiancé, until that smarmy git came along.’

‘Which smarmy git?’ asked Ellie as she noticed Julian heading their way.

Jamie followed her gaze, ‘That smarmy git,’ he replied, his jaw tightening.

Ellie’s heart sank. Julian wasn’t as perfect as he claimed to be and Jamie still had feelings for his ex. It was going to be a Santa bloodbath when they met. Evie looked up to the sky for divine intervention. She wished she was anywhere but here, preferably on some exotic beach with a Pina Colada in her hand. Instead she saw David, the ward porter, dressed in a Santa suit and gesticulating wildly as he floated down towards her.  He was doing his first sponsored parachute jump, and more worryingly still, he was heading straight for her.

Now that’s a cliffhanger and a half! Will Ellie choose Jamie or Julian, or are both men off-limits? And, more importantly, will she be knocked out by a falling Santa? Have to admit we might have decided on our favourite between Jamie and Julian now 😉

Come back tomorrow for the final part of the story by Laura E. James!

COMPETITION TIME

If you enjoyed Victoria’s writing, why not try and win a digital copy of her upcoming novel, The Thief’s Daughter … we’ll even throw in some Christmas chocolate too!

To be in with a chance of winning, simply read Victoria’s extract and answer this question …

What is the name of the organisation Jamie is a part of, and what do they do?

If you know the answer, email it to info@choc-lit.co.uk. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced at the end of the week. Good luck!

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Read the final part of the story by Laura E. James HERE.

The Santa Dash: Part Three by Jane Lovering

Round Robin

Clare Chase left us at the starting line of the Santa Dash yesterday – now it’s time to take a run with Jane Lovering for today’s Christmas Round Robin instalment! Who is the mystery woman, and why is Julian acting so shifty? 

Remember to read right until the end if you want to take part in today’s competition. In order to enjoy the story, make sure you read Part One by Kathryn Freeman HERE and Part Two by Clare Chase HERE before you start on Jane’s extract. 

The Santa Dash – Part Three

Suddenly Ellie found herself in a confused melee of red suits and white nylon hair as the more sporty of the dashing Santas took off along the prom. For a moment she lost sight of everyone she knew, found herself spun around by the press of bodies around her, disorientated and even ran a few steps in the wrong direction to the amusement of the watching crowd. Her hat had slipped down over her eyes again and her beard was riding up to meet it, so she could only see the world through a reddish hairy filter and wondered, idly, as she managed to get herself facing the right way, if this was what Hell would look like from inside.  Probably less hirsute, she thought, getting her legs under control and managing a credible jog considering the vast amount of stuffing she’d shoved under her jacket for verisimilitude. Sally had tried to tell her that the Santa Dash wasn’t aiming for absolute Santa-ness, it was the Dash that was important, but Ellie suspected that was just so that Sally could get away with something more figure-hugging, since Julian was going to be there.

Where was Julian?  Ellie peered around the crowd of bobbing hats and beards. Surely he’d be somewhere out in front, after all he regularly played in the hospital rugby team and, judging by his muscles, must also work out.  She puffed a little bit, her padding was working its way around to the back as she ran and the beard was itchy, plus the little black boots that came with the outfit didn’t have very much grip.

‘Good sea air!’

The voice came from next to her and Ellie saw Jamie, recognisable from the way his eyes were gleaming atop the beard.

‘Sorry?’ She was a bit ashamed to find herself puffing more.

‘Nothing like a run in the sea air to clear the tubes.’  He didn’t seem to be even mildly out of breath, jogging along beside her as though this was a gentle stroll.

They ran along together for a moment, buffeted by the faster Santas who, scenting the finish line further along the esplanade, had picked up speed.

‘So,’ Ellie felt duty bound to make conversation, although she had to admit, this was perhaps the most bizarre place she’d ever found herself doing ‘polite chat’, ‘how do you come to know Julian?’

Jamie did a peculiar double-step, at first Ellie thought he’d stumbled, but he turned out to be avoiding a woman pushing a buggy with two small children in.  To Ellie’s surprise, the woman saw Jamie and gave him a big, beaming smile.

‘Oh, it’s you!’ she said, and Jamie slowed down. ‘Sorry! Didn’t mean to be in the way, but Liam was just so excited to see the Santas running …’

Jamie gave her a grin in return. ‘No worries, Gemma,’ he said, and Ellie was only mildly annoyed to notice that he wasn’t even breathing hard. ‘Nice to see you. But I’d better …’ he gestured to the mass of gently heaving red nylon that was surging ahead. ‘Sponsored, you see.’

‘Do you know everyone?’ Ellie panted, hoping her face wasn’t quite as red as her suit yet, but figuring that most of it was concealed by her beard anyway.

‘Not quite. Only the less – how shall I put it – less financially fortunate,’ Jamie turned to her and his eyes were positively gleaming. ‘After all, I don’t know you yet, do I? Coffee, after the run?’

And, without waiting for an answer, he put his head down and began running, overtaking the back markers of the pack and weaving his way through. Ellie watched the white bobble on his hat making its way through the runners.

When she turned her head to try to catch her breath, she saw that Melissa, the gorgeous red-head who’d been talking to Julian, was standing alongside the taped off track. And her eyes were also following Jamie’s running figure, with an expression somewhere between hero-worship and despair.

Ooh, the plot thickens! Join us tomorrow for another instalment from one of our debut authors, Victoria Cornwall!

COMPETITION TIME

If you enjoyed Jane’s writing, why not try and win a copy of her novel, I Don’t Want To Talk About It … we’ll even throw in some Christmas chocolate too!

To be in with a chance of winning, simply read Jane’s extract and answer this question …

Who does Jamie have to sidestep to avoid running into during the Santa Dash? 

If you know the answer, email it to info@choc-lit.co.uk. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced at the end of the week. Good luck!

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Read Part Four by Victoria Cornwall HERE

The Santa Dash: Part One by Kathryn Freeman

Round Robin

Ho ho ho! Not long until the big day and we’ll be with you right up until the 23rd with our fab Christmas Round Robin story – it’s super fun and Christmassy and we know you’re just going to love it! What’s more we’ll be running a Christmas competition every day this week too. Read to the end of the story to find out how to enter!

Kathryn Freeman starts us off and sets the scene. It’s time for a Santa Dash …

The Santa Dash: Part One

Ellie scanned the sea of red and white bodies crowding on to the sea front and started to giggle. There couldn’t be many sights more bizarre than the town’s annual Santa Dash. In ten minutes time there would be over a hundred Santa’s of all shapes and sizes, running – sometimes waddling – along the prom, all in the aid of local charities.

Sally elbowed her. ‘Hey, what are you grinning at?’

Ellie turned to her friend, white Santa beard hanging precariously from her mouth, red hat nearly in her eyes. ‘Just thinking how ridiculous we all look.’ Unconsciously she glanced across to the one member of their incongruous Santa line-up who still managed to look good. ‘Well, nearly all of us.’

Sally followed the direction of her gaze and sighed. ‘I reckon Dr Faulkner could dress like a turkey and still look amazing.’

Julian Faulkner was the new consultant in charge of their A&E unit. Six foot one inches of dark, brooding gorgeousness. And did she mention single?

With her eyes trained on the suave consultant, who had rather cheated by not wearing a beard or hat, or indeed anything to disguise the athletic frame beneath his red Santa suit, Ellie didn’t notice the Santa who’d started his dash a little too early. And in the wrong direction.

With a shriek she ploughed into him, knocking him clean off his feet. He landed on the promenade with a mighty thump, the air rushing out of his lungs as he let out a strangled groan.

‘Oh my God, are you okay?’

Feeling terrible, Ellie crouched over him and started to check him for broken bones. ‘It’s okay. I’m a nurse.’

A pair of blue eyes blinked up at her. With his hat and white beard covering most of his face, the eyes were all she could see of him.

To her shock, they looked like they were laughing at her.

‘What?’ she demanded, miffed since she’d been so concerned about him.

‘Sorry.’ His voice was muffled by his beard. ‘Just wondering what we must look like to passers by. You know, Father Christmas lying prostate on the floor and Mother Christmas straddling him. Hope no kids are watching.’

Ellie looked down and gasped in horror. Oh boy, in her rush to check he was okay she’d practically crawled on top of him. Hastily she scrambled to her feet. ‘Well it looks like I don’t have to worry about you. You don’t sound in pain.’

‘I think I’ll live.’ Those eyes, a vivid blue against the stark white fluff of his hat and beard, smiled as he gingerly climbed to his feet. ‘It’s been a while since a gorgeous woman has swept me off my feet.’

Ellie felt another giggle coming on but it was squashed at the sound of a deep voice behind her. One she’d recognise anywhere.

‘Everything okay over here?’

Her brain froze, as it always seemed to do when Julian was around. Luckily Sally answered for them. ‘Ellie just knocked over Father Christmas.’

‘Ellie?’ Julian’s dark eyes swept over her, making her pulse race.

‘I’m good.’ Heavens, she sounded like a mouse. She cleared her throat. ‘Thank you. It’s Father Christmas I was worried about.’

The man in question was busy trying to realign his disheveled red suit. After tugging his padded belly back into position over his shiny black belt, he finally looked up. Blue eyes that had danced at her, looked stormy as he turned to Julian.

‘Well, well. If it isn’t Dr Faulkner.’ He let out a short laugh as he surveyed Julian’s outfit. ‘It’s not really a Santa Dash for you, is it mate? You’re more Man in a Red Suit.’

Julian gave the blue-eyed stranger a cool smile and ran his eyes deliberately up and down the other man’s crumpled red suit. ‘At least I have the dash part down. You never could manage that.’

Ellie heard blue eyes muttering under his breath. Words like stuck up and arrogant prick were clearly audible but Julian wasn’t looking at the man uttering them. The focus of his gaze was entirely on her. ‘Shall we go to the start line?’

Feeling ridiculously giddy, she nodded. ‘Umm, yes. Of course.’

With Sally nowhere to be seen, Ellie started to follow Julian but within seconds his tall figure was swallowed up by the Santa swarm. Only in this case it was a flirty group of female Santa’s she recognised from the hospital staff.

‘Can’t understand what they see in him.’

The man she’d just flattened wasn’t looking like happy Santa as he stared at Julian’s broad back.

‘Why do I get the feeling you two know each other?’

‘Because we do.’ For a split second anger flashed in his eyes but then it disappeared and he yanked down his beard, flashing her a broad grin. ‘But I’m far more interested in knowing you.’

Oooh, looks like Ellie might have two rival Santas to choose from! But which one will it be? Come back tomorrow when Clare Chase will be picking up where Kathryn left off. Can’t wait to find out more! 

COMPETITION TIME

If you enjoyed Kathryn’s writing, why not try and win a copy of her novel, Search for the Truth … we’ll even throw in some Christmas chocolate too!

To be in with a chance of winning, simply read Kathryn’s extract and answer this question …

Ellie runs into a Santa before starting the race. What colour are his eyes? 

If you know the answer, email it to info@choc-lit.co.uk. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced at the end of the week. Good luck!

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Read Part Two by Clare Chase HERE

Tennis at Christmas?

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Tennis and Christmas? Not a natural match, perhaps – but Kathryn Freeman makes it work in her new novel, A Second Christmas Wish! And she has written about how she did it … 

My first Christmas book, A Second Christmas Wish, was out at the beginning of November. I confess I haven’t been this excited about Christmas since Father Christmas came down the chimney and left presents on the end of my bed.

Those were the days. Days I dragged out of my memory when I began to plot out this story. Not to recreate them, but to remember some of the magic of Christmas that crowded shops, Christmas card writing and remembering to book my online grocery slot two months before I need it, has dimmed.

In fact before I began to write A Second Christmas Wish I made a list of all the things I liked most about Christmas; the nativity play, mince pies, snow balls, Christmas trees. Festive traditions a reader would easily associate with Christmas and which I gleefully weaved into the story. I also ended up including a few themes not traditionally associated with Christmas though. Like tennis.

Umm, so why on earth did I write about tennis in a Christmas book? The answer lies in my heroine, Melissa and her son, William. They are still recovering from her ill-fated marriage to a man who turned out to be a manipulative husband and cold father. It’s left them both wary of men and disillusioned with Christmas.

I needed them to meet a man who would help put some sparkle back into their Christmas. But how to meet him? William lacks confidence so I thought giving him some lessons in a sport would help improve this. Also because I’m a sucker for a sports star. Over the years I’ve had many sporting idols, like Jonny Wilkinson, Seve Ballesteros, Michael Owen. And don’t get me started on Jenson Button … he’s why I ended up writing a romance about a sexy racing driver.

Sorry, talk of Jenson has derailed me. Sexy men have a habit of doing that. I was deciding on a sport for my young hero, William. I considered football, but for a sensitive boy that didn’t seem quite right. I could have gone with a snowy theme and picked skiing but again, pushing a shy boy down a slope didn’t fit well with me, though of course I’m sure skiing coaches aren’t that mean.

The more I thought about it, the more tennis seemed a perfect fit. It isn’t a contact sport but you can learn in a group. Plus it’s a sport I know something about because I play it myself and my sons both had coaching from the age William is in the story. That’s the only reason they can beat me now of course …

So that’s how the hero of A Second Christmas Wish became ex-tennis professional Daniel McCormick. A man who’s recently opened a tennis academy, teaching youngsters the joy of the sport he loves but had to give up through injury. He’s over six feet of rippling athleticism. Imagine a combination of Pat Cash and Rafael Nadal. I know I did, when I was writing him. He certainly added a sparkle to my days but the question is, did he do the same for Melissa?

… And you can find out whether he did in A Second Christmas Wish which is now available to buy on all eBook platforms! 

Kindle UK  Kindle US  Kindle AUS  Kindle CA

For more information on Kathryn, follow her on Twitter @KathrynFreeman

Or visit her website: www.kathrynfreeman.co.uk

The Perfect Christmas Kiss

9781781893234

Today sees the release of Alison May’s Christmas Kisses; a collection of gorgeous festive stories about three girls searching for ‘the perfect Christmas kiss’. But does that ‘perfect’ kiss even exist? Alison asks that exact question in today’s blog post … 

The idea of writing a post about ‘The Perfect Christmas Kiss’ seemed such a good idea as an abstract concept when I agreed to it a week before I had to actually sit down and write anything. It’s such a beautiful romantic idea – surely everyone has an idea of their perfect mistletoe-moment?

You might have a fantasy of meeting your flawless long-distance lover at the top of the Empire State Building as the bells chime to ring in Christmas Day. Or you might prefer a more traditional English Christmas scene – maybe with snow falling over a village green outside a beautiful old stone church, everyone wrapped up in hats and scarves and the love of your life with a sprig of mistletoe and a certain twinkle in his or her eye? Or perhaps you’re not a lover of Christmas and would prefer to be whisked away to a sunkissed beach to forget the festive season altogether and indulge in a little holiday romance whilst you’re there?

But here’s the problem – all of those ideas sound lovely in practice but they’re fantasy, aren’t they? And there’s nothing wrong with a bit of fantasy, but trying to translate fantasy into real-life is a surefire recipe for anti-climax and disappointment. That sunkissed beach sounds lovely, but actually having a frolic on it is just going to lead to sand in your pants and a sunburn in places that the sun really isn’t supposed to shine. The meeting at the top of the Empire State Building is such a romantic idea, but once you actually get there you’ll be sharing the viewing platform with every other lovelorn hopeful in New York city, and there’s nothing worse than having to form a queue every time a eligible-looking singleton appears on the off-chance that they might be the one for you. Even the snow-covered English village sounds frankly off-puttingly chilly, and realistically, you’re going to have a streaming nose and chattering teeth if you stay out trying to canoodle for too long.

So here’s my suggestion for the perfect Christmas Kiss – don’t plan it. Perfect moments are something that happens, not something that can be prepared. You know how nights out where you swear that you’re just going to have one drink and then end up crawling home at 3am are always more fun than big nights that take weeks to plan? Well I think perfect Christmas kisses might fall into the same category. Whatever you think perfection is going to look like, that’s almost certainly not how it would actually turn out. Perfection, where is exists at all, exists in the surprising and the unexpected, in the spontaneous and the organic, rather in those things that have been meticulously planned and preconceived. That’s something that each of the heroines in Christmas Kisses has to learn in their own different way. Perfect is never really what you think it’s going to be. Sometimes you have to open your mind and enjoy the moment that you’re in right now, whether it looks like you expected or not.

Christmas Kisses is now available to purchase in paperback from all good book stockists and retailers. Click HERE to order from Amazon. 

For more information on Alison, follow her on Twitter @MsAlisonMay.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays from the Choc Lit Team and our Santa Clauses!

Merry Christmas from Team Choc Lit!

Merry Christmas everyone, Happy Holidays! Thank you for all your fabulous support in 2015. We look forward to sharing more exciting releases and fabulous Choc Lit books with you in the new year.
Love from the Choc Lit Team x
(Lyn, Lusana, Jane O, Liz, Jane E, Marie, Jessamy) 

And now a message from our Choc Lit Santas: 🙂

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juliet Santa photoJuliet Archer:  “As Jane Austen said in Emma, published 200 years ago this month: ‘This is quite the season indeed for friendly meetings. At Christmas every body invites their friends about them, and people think little of even the worst weather.’ I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year, with lots of ‘friendly meetings’ and as little as possible of ‘the worst weather’.”

Santa - Rhoda BaxterPLEASE RELEASE ME_front150dpiRhoda Baxter: “Wish you all a fab holiday season with lots of chocolate, cake and nice warming books to read. See you next year.”

 

Zana Bell - Santa!

Fool's Gold

Zana Bell: Meri Kirihimete (Maori) everyone and many best wishes from New Zealand. May you all have a wonderful festive season. ”

 

AnnMarie Santa photo

AnneMarie Brear: “Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas, (a perfect time to read good books) and a safe and healthy 2016!”

 

 

Jan Santa photo

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Jan Brigden: “Wishing everyone a joyful, peaceful, healthy Christmas & New Year, with much festive good cheer, happy reading (and chocolate goodies aplenty!). Enjoy!”

 

Angela Britnell - Santa!

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Angela Britnell: “Wishing all of our Choc Lit readers a joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year filled with good books!”

 

Sheryl Browne Santa!

 

9781781892350Sheryl Browne: Christmas time, mistletoe and wine … If you fancy a gorgeous hero to complete the scene, dip into scrummy Choc Lit book. Perfection. Have a lovely Christmas everyone!


You Think You Know MeClare Chase - Santa!Clare Chase: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, full of warmth and good cheer, followed by a very happy 2016.”

 

An Irish Promise

Valerie Olteanu  - Isabeall Connor - SantaLiv Thomas - Isabella Connor - Santa!Isabella Connor (Liv & Val):  Nollaig shona dhaoibh. Wishing all Choc Lit readers and their families, a wonderful Christmas, and a happy 2016.”

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Christina Courtenay - Santa!Christina Courtenay: “I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Have a peaceful, relaxing holiday hopefully with lots of time for reading! Thank you all for your support this year and here’s to a fantastic year in 2016!  Christina xxx”

Some Veil Did Fall

Kirsty Ferry - Santa!

Kirsty Ferry: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy 2016. I hope you enjoy a festive season filled with cake, chocolate and a multitude of good books! Love from Kirsty xxx”

 

9781781892206Debbie Santa photoDebbie Flint: “Wishing you sleighbells and snowflakes, mince pies andmulled wine, silent nights and holly-days, myrrh and magic moments, tinselled tots and festive pets, plus perfect peace, Christmas cheer – and to all a good night!”

 

9781781892466 Kathryn Freeman - Santa!Kathryn Freeman: “Christmas – a time to relax, to indulge. Whether you’re turkey or goose, chocolate or champagne, Christmas films or a sack full of books, I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”

 

Janet Gover - Santa!9781781892688Janet Gover: “May Christmas be a time of joy for you and yours – and I hope 2016 will be a wonderful year filled with love and laughter.”

 

 

The Highwayman's Daughter

Henriette Gyland - Santa!Henriette Gyland: “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May 2016 be filled with love, laughter and good books to read.”

 

Linn's Santas photo

Linn B. Halton: Wishing everyone peace, love and happiness this Christmas time, and a wonderful start to 2016! Linn x

 

 

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Liz Harris - Santa!Liz Harris: “Wishing you everything for 2015 that you wish for yourself.  May it be a year filled with health, happiness, chocolate and, of course, books!!”

 


The Wedding Cake TreeMelanie Hudson - Santa!Melanie Hudson: 
“Wishing you love, light and oodles of laughter this Christmas.”

 

 

9781781892701Laura E James - Santa!Laura E.James: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a 2016 that’s overflowing with good health and great books.”

 

 

Magic Sometimes Happens

Margaret James - Santa!Margaret James: “Merry Christmas, readers and writers, and may 2016 be a wonderful year for you all.”

 


Impossible ThingsKate Johnson Santa!Kate Johnson: “I’d like to wish everyone a very happy festive season and offer my best wishes for the new year.”

 


Dangerous DecisionsMargaret Kaine - Santa!Margaret Kaine: “I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas whether you are spending it with family or friends, or have chosen to be on your own surrounded by chocolates, wine and good books. May I wish you both good health and happiness throughout 2016.”

 

Jane Lovering - Santa!9781781892817Jane Lovering: “Wishing everyone a happy HobNob dunking, marshmallow toasting, Tony Robinson watching day! Although if you don’t like any of these things, I wish you a Happy Christmas anyway…all the more for me! JANE X”

 

9781781892176Sally santa photoSally Malcolm: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, and a New Yearfull of adventure!”

 

 

Alison May - Santa!9781781892947Alison May: “May your festive season be joyful and filled with books, chocolate and all good things. Happy Christmas one and all.”

 

 

Emma - There's No Turning BackLinda Mitchelmore - Santa!Linda Mitchelmore: “Happy Christmas to you all. I hope you will have a wonderful time, spending Christmas in whichever way you choose. I also hope there will  be a little window of time to curl up with a Choc Lit novel – or two – somewhere warm with a glass of something festive.”

Lynda Stacey Santa photoLynda Stacey: “May your Christmas sparkle with happiness, surprises and above all else, good health. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous 2016  xx”

 

 

DANCE UNTIL DAWNBerni Stevens - Santa!Berni Stevens: “Wishing everyone a Perfectly Paranormal Christmas and a peaceful New Year! Happy reading! Love Berni xxx”

 

Follow a StarChristine Stovell - Santa!Christine Stovell: Nadolig Llawen! Merry Christmas one and all. Here’s wishing you everything you would wish for yourself.”

 

Romancing the SoulSarah Tranter - Santa!Sarah Tranter: “Merry Xmas and a fabulous 2016 to you all!”

 

 

Never Marry a Politician!Sarah Tranter - Santa!Sarah Waights: “Wishing all Choc Lit readers a fabulous Christmas and as much romance and chocolate as you can handle in the year to come.”

 

Out of Sight Out of Mind

Evonne Wareham - Santa!Evonne Wareham: “Happy Christmas – Nadolig Llawen – and health, happiness and lots of good books for everyone in 2016.”

 

Nick santa photo

Nicky Wells:  “Frohe Weihnachten und ein Gutes Neues! ~That’s “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” in my native German, and I’d like to wish you both of those with all myheart. May your Christmas sparkle and may your 2016 be filled with love, laughter and happiness. Xx”

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL! 

Merry Christmas from the Choc Lit Santa Clauses!

Merry Christmas from Team Choc Lit!

Wishing all the readers, reviewers, Tasting panel members and bloggers who have supported us this year a very Merry Christmas! We look forward to sharing our 2015 releases with you all soon 🙂 In the meantime, here are some festive messages from some of the Choc Lit Santa clauses alongside a reminder of some of those beautiful 2014 covers …

Doctor January by Rhoda BaxterSanta - Rhoda BaxterRhoda Baxter:
“Have a wonderful Christmas with lots of chocolate. May 2015 be full of laughter and more chocolate.”

 

Zana Bell - Santa!

Fool's Gold

Zana Bell:
“Sending a virtual splash of Kiwi sunshine and ice cream Christmas pudding to all our readers.”

 

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Angela Britnell - Santa!Angela Britnell:
“Merry Christmas from Nashville! I hope everyone’s Christmas stockings are full of great Choc-Lit books and plenty of good chocolate.”

Sheryl Browne Santa!Sheryl Browne:
“Christmas, the perfect time to curl up with mulled wine and Choc Lit. Have a lovely Christmas everyone. I hope all your dreams and wishes come true.”


You Think You Know MeClare Chase - Santa!Clare Chase:
“Wishing you a warm, bright and merry Christmas, and a very happy new year.”

 

An Irish Promise

Liv Thomas - Isabella Connor - Santa!Valerie Olteanu  - Isabeall Connor - SantaIsabella Connor (Liv & Val): Nollaig shona dhaoibh. “Wishing all Choc Lit readers and their families, a wonderful Christmas, and a happy 2015.

 

Monsoon Mists

Christina Courtenay - Santa!Christina Courtenay:
God Jul – I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a fabulous New Year!  Hope you have lots of time over the holidays to relax and read!”


Some Veil Did FallKirsty Ferry - Santa!Kirsty Ferry:
“Have a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful New Year. And eat lots of chocolate, obviously! Love from Kirsty xxx”

 

Do Opposites Attract by Kathryn Freeman Kathryn Freeman - Santa!Kathryn Freeman:
“I hope Father Christmas brings all our lovely readers a sack full of books – and a stocking full of chocolate. Happy Christmas and very best wishes for 2015.”

Flight to Coorah Creek

Janet Gover - Santa!Janet Gover: “I hope your Christmas is filled with the people you care most about. And that all the presents under your tree are book shaped (except for the ones that are the shape of chocolate or possibly Champagne.)”

The Highwayman's Daughter

Henriette Gyland - Santa!Henriette Gyland:
God Jul og Godt Nytår, which is the traditional Christmas greeting in Denmark where I come from!

 


Liz Harris - Santa!A Western HeartLiz Harris:
Wishing you everything for 2015 that you wish for yourself.  May it be a year filled with health, happiness, chocolate and, of course, books!!”


The Wedding Cake TreeMelanie Hudson - Santa!Melanie Hudson:

“Merry Christmas!”

 

 

Cross Stitch

Amanda James:Amanda James - Santa!
“Have a fabulous Christmas and New Year!  Here’s to a 2015 full of great stories.”

 

Follow Me Follow YouLaura E James - Santa!Laura E.James:
“Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015, filled with love, laughter and literature.”

 

Magic Sometimes Happens

Margaret James - Santa!Margaret James:
“A very happy Christmas to everyone. May magic often happen and 2015 be good to you all in every way.”


Impossible ThingsKate Johnson Santa!Kate Johnson:
“The weather outside is frightful, but our books are so delightful! Here’s wishing you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year.”


Dangerous DecisionsMargaret Kaine - Santa!Margaret Kaine:
“Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones, with lots of books under the tree and even some time to read one! Enjoy!”

 

How I Wonder What You Are

Jane Lovering - Santa!Jane Lovering:
So many books, so little time! Wishing you a happy and peaceful Christmas.”

 

Cora's Christmas KissAlison May - Santa!Alison May:
“Happy Christmas. I hope your festive season is filled with love, chocolate, books and merriment.”

 

Emma - There's No Turning BackLinda Mitchelmore - Santa!Linda Mitchelmore:
“Wishing all my readers – past, present, and future – a wonderful Christmas. May there be love and warmth in your home, food on your table, a glass of something to lift the spirits, joy in your heart, and a quiet corner to sit and read a good novel.”

The Wedding Proposal

Sue Moorcroft - Santa!Sue Moorcroft:
“I hope that you have a joyful and peaceful Christmas … with time to read!”

 

DANCE UNTIL DAWNBerni Stevens - Santa!Berni Stevens:
“Wishing you all a magical Christmas and a wonderful 2015. Happy reading!”

 

Follow a StarChristine Stovell - Santa!Christine Stovell:
Nadolig Llawen!  Merry Christmas from west Wales!”

 

Romancing the SoulSarah Tranter - Santa!Sarah Tranter:
“Have the most wonderful Xmas and may your 2015 be chock-a-full of happiness.”

 

Never Marry a Politician!Sarah Tranter - Santa!Sarah Waights: “2014 will always have happy memories as ‘the year I published my first novel’ thanks to the lovely Choc Lit readers’ panel who were kind enough to like it.  I hope that all you Choc Lit readers have had an equally brilliant year, that Santa brings you everything on your list and that you have a happy 2015 with LOTS of reading and LOTS of chocolate. X”

Out of Sight Out of Mind

Evonne Wareham - Santa!Evonne Wareham:
“I hope everyone manages to find some time over the holiday to curl up with a good book. Happy Christmas!”

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL!