e-book Lets Make It Merry Christmas (Will Nickerson Mysteries Book 4)

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He held it in his mouth as he dashed, round and round, up the tree trunk to a safe branch. She waited, tense, for him to drop the apple, but he kept hold of it, feasting on it in the safety of the high branches. So now a tiny touch of red showed in the otherwise color blind world. She gazed out through the droopy boughs, and fancied she could see elusive, dancing figures behind the gauzy veils of snow. Then, some pebbles of snow skittered down the mountainside, followed by a darker figure. A tall man, hooded and cloaked, with an oaken walking staff and a pack on his back.

He wore snowshoes. As she watched, his head came up. With the falling whiteness, the vast mountainside was suddenly closed into the dimensions of a small, intimate space. It was as though, for an instant, he had pulled aside the gauzy veil and looked at her.

She had an impression of bronze skin, deep-set eyes, and a dark beard. Behind the beard, a faint smile curved his lips. He had known she was there. Not just someone—her. Then he turned to shadow, like her fanciful dancing figures, and was gone. A few days ago I bought a three-foot high squirrel statue. Last summer I bought an equally tall Easter Island-type figure. The moment I saw them, I knew they were mine.

Merry Christmas Murdoch. All I Want For Christmas Is You (M Bublé)

Because they were funny. Because they were charming. Because they were unexpected. Because they absolutely belonged at the edge of the jungle behind our house. There is a jungle behind our house. Our new old house was built in Was all the property edged and mowed and manicured back then? When did that stop? Did the jungle slowly creep forward as, inch-by-inch they stopped pruning? Even when the air around me seems perfectly quiet, Things inside there make it quiver and shiver and shake.

Birds dart out of it and fireflies blink in it. Skinny squirrels leap from limb to limb. At dusk I have watched a lean and rangy raccoon trot out of it. Mammals here seem to be of a different species from the fat, fluffy type that Ontario breeds. Our jungle is like a microcosm of Southern flora. Poking out from the mass of under- and overgrowth, I can identify a sweetgum, some pines, something that looks like a form of mimosa, and a live oak or two. Right at the edge, tiger lilies, goldenrod, and black-eyed susans pop up at the appropriate time of year.

In the spring, a dogwood, a redbud, and twisting, interwoven wisteria and glowing yellow Carolina jasmine brighten it up. In midsummer, white-starred Confederate jasmine drapes through like Christmas lights. People want us to clear it away. Maybe we should chop away some of the jungle. But I want to keep the rest. The green, rolling hills of Ontario are lovely, and so was all of the UK that I saw, but so neat and tidy-looking comparatively. Kind of fun. I remember this. All of this seems kind of haunted.

So, we are smack in the middle of the witchy, haunted time of year. Why, we should have a holiday promoting goblins and spooks. Say, right around October And just enough of each genre—for my taste, anyway. I want nothing to do with ickiness. For me, ghost stories need a genuine specter and they eventually require an explanation and a resolving and a happy ending. Unfortunately, real-life ghost stories rarely do. I believe in ghosts. I also believe in them because I had one personal experience with a Real-Life ghost story.

It has to do with The Incidence of the Haunted Cabinet. Who would have guessed that furniture could have a ghost attached to it? I was eighteen and home for the summer after my freshman year of college, working as a typist at an engineering company. I was supposed to be saving every last penny for my education, but my indulgent parents let me occasionally spend some of my wages on fun stuff.

Being the house-and-decorating-loving girl that I was, I spent my fun-stuff dollars on furniture. The idea was that someday, when I had a home of my own, I would already have a few charming items to go into it. My small bedroom had blue-flower-sprigged wallpaper, yellow shag carpeting, and wall-to-wall furniture. I had a rocking chair, a cedar chest, and a grandfather clock stuffed in there along with the bed and dresser. Down the street from my place of employment was an antique shop.

It was run by a skinny, shriveled old lady named Fernie. During my lunch hour, I would wander through the shop, trying to decide what I would buy. I did not want to make a mistake. Finally, toward the end of the summer, I made my choice. It was a secretary—a bookcase-desk combination, painted black, edged with gold, with a fold-out writing surface and pigeon holes in the middle and glass doors above.

I squished everything in my bedroom tighter together and tucked my new piece into the corner. I had great fun trying out different books inside and deciding what was worthy to have a place in my charming cabinet. Little did I know that the cabinet was Haunted. That very first night, I started feeling uncomfortable in my room—as if someone were watching me. The door to the hall was closed. I drew together the window curtains so that not a bit gapped open to the blackness outside. I made good and sure no one was in the closet and that the closet door was shut.

I was alone. But someone was watching me. I could feel it as I read in bed. I would read for a minute, and then look up over the top of my book to scan the empty room. The air felt unnaturally chilly. I pulled up an extra cover even though it was hot summertime, and left my lamp on when I finally drifted to sleep.


I had terrible dreams. I would awake, shaken, but I could not remember what the nightmares consisted of. The next day, for the first time in my life, it was a relief to leave the house and go to work. I could feel the cabinet there—waiting for me. I stayed up late, delaying going to bed. Finally I could put it off no longer. That second night, as I said my prayers, kneeling by my bed, a knock sounded.

It came from the cabinet and sounded just as if something had struck the wood with their knuckles. A knock. I opened my eyes, and of course nothing was changed. Everything was as it had been.

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I closed my eyes to continue my prayer, thinking it had to have been wood expanding or contracting or whatever wood does to make strange sounds. I jumped when another sound came from the cabinet. This time it was a thunk—as loud as if someone had dropped a book on the desk surface. I placed my Bible on the desk, hoping that somehow this would safeguard me. Again I left the lamp on as I slept.

Soon after midnight, a giant crash sounded. I sat straight up and saw that the shelf had collapsed in the cabinet, and all the books had tumbled down. I had made certain before I put my books on it that it was sturdy and firm, yet it had fallen. Expanding or contracting wood—NOT! Looking sheepish, hesitantly, she told me that she had had a troubling dream the night before. Now, keep in my mind that I had told my mother nothing about what had been going on.

Somehow I knew it was evil. That was the only time in my life I have ever actually felt the hair stand up on my neck. I told her then what I had been experiencing. That very day, while I was at work, my mother got rid of the cabinet. I only know that the minute I walked through the front door that afternoon, I was aware the thing was gone.

If it were in a story, I would have connected it somehow with a murder—blood splashed upon it and painted over. That sort of thing. Never before and never after have I had a similar experience. I wonder where the cabinet is right now? Well, will you looky here! I, Jane Nickerson am once more writing a blog post.

What have I done during that time? Well, the picture to the left shows one of my favorite things I did. I am the Grandma who is watching. My four-year-old grandson drew this so I would remember my time at Six Flags over Georgia. I have been doing Life and I have been Busy. There was a wedding and there was a birthing. Houseguests and trips.

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Work on our old house and gardening in our old garden. There were no deaths of anyone close to me, but there was a touch of tragedy. Nothing great or dramatic, just the sort of thing that, when you wake up in the middle of the night, you think, Oh no! That really happened! I am about 60, words into a fantasy that I just love, if only I could get the last 30,or-so words finished.

There were family and friendships. Time and again I have been on the verge of writing a blog post, because I enjoy them, but I have not done it. But now I am back. Why, you may ask? And I will be honest. However, with projects where continuation or completion is optional, I often leave them half-done, going on to the next thing. Like a monkey. The theme goes on through most aspects of my life. How many times have I been taught how to crochet and started blankets or scarfs and ended up stashing them away uncompleted? I finally give them to someone who really crochets. I find myself wondering, When will this movie be over?

I adore Christmas and we put up our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, but the second the last present is opened on Christmas day, I have to hold myself back from immediately taking down the decorations. Always leaping to the next thing. So, maybe I do need a boss to order me around, to tell me what to do next, to force me to continue with things. And the publisher is the boss. And I am glad to be writing these posts again. Be watching for them. This line is a lesson to everyone about everything in life. Well, maybe not every thing, but an awful lot of things.

I always wondered how people in the public eye handled being raved over by some folks and raked over the coals by others. I sit in the back of classrooms. And I was shy about my writing, not wanting to insinuate that I thought it was anything special. But, underneath, my mind constantly conjures and creates in a flamboyant fashion. I love color and beautiful scenes and opulent words.

And some unknown, alien thing inside me eventually drove me to send my work out. Oh, the pain of the first rejections! Oh, the blushing and writhing and wincing! Such humiliation to think that someone had read my writing and considered it so bad. And then…the joy of my first acceptance, and each subsequent one.

The validation. As time went by, and more and more of my stories were published, even I had to admit to myself that I must be a pretty good writer. They felt what I felt when I was writing. I feel an overwhelming kinship with the reviewer. I want to write and write and write. But…the negative reviews. Some people out and out hate my books. At first I read them all because I thought it would help my writing.

People could be so mean, and I wondered if it occurred to them that there was a person with feelings at the end of the pen or word processor. I guess reviewers need to be honest, but still…I would get the feeling that it was more fun for them to be snarky and cutting, so that was the main reason for the terrible criticism. Every single aspect of my books that one person loved, another person would hate.

Their opinion is legitimate for them. Petals shower down on me when breezes rifle the Bradford pear trees lining our street. What sort of childhood did you have? Was it the kind of idyllic American upbringing you see in Norman Rockwell paintings and read about in Beverly Cleary books? I wrote them down, of course, in order to have ideas for stories, but they make me awfully nostalgic as I read them.

And they have caused me to come up with some ideas for a perfect childhood:. Disclaimer: some of these elements may be slightly unsafe or unsanitary, which helps to make them even more fun. They may also be politically incorrect. Make mud pies decorated with pebbles and flowers. There should be available boards and building materials lying about for the construction of tree houses and forts. What does this mean? You should sometimes have Little Debbies, Cracker Jacks, snowcones, Cheetos, popsicles, or watermelon for snacks.

Your mother should be really scared of something like spiders or snakes or worms so you can both tease her and protect her. There should be birthday parties sometimes at fast food restaurants or the roller skating rink, but also occasioanlly at home with silly games. There should be water balloons. There should be grandparents living nearby to attend school programs and baseball games so that somebody besides the parents cares about the outcome. There should be school so you have school stories to tell at the supper table and so you can have the fun of vacations from school sometimes. Piano lessons.

Endearing nicknames from your mama like Mouselet or Sweetpea. You must play Monopoly. There should be bike rides across town. There should be daily chores to do. There should be either a garden or bush or tree from which you can eat fresh nuts or vegetables, fruit or berries. You need occasional illnesses where you lie on a sheet-covered couch, and your mother reads to you and brings you cold orange juice. Sometimes you must get sunburned or stung by an insect. Construction paper, scissors, glue, crayons, markers, and water color paints should always be available.

No matter where you live, snow should fall at least once a year. There should be family traditions and inside jokes. Some tape should be left permanently stuck to the ceiling, left over from all the crepe paper and balloons the family uses in celebrations. There should be occasional spontaneous trips to swim in the river or picnics armed with Frisbees. Rocks and trees to climb. Frogs to catch.

Eat popcorn while watching movies. Have plenty of unregimented free time to encourage creativity and occasional mischief. You might want to look it up. How about you? Named after the famous author, Emily Dickenson, who lived odd and alone throughout her creative, quiet life. My husband constantly shows that I am loved. He goes to work each day for our family. He builds me things and fixes things. He comes straight home from work and we are always happy to see each other. He enjoys spending time with me and helps me with all my interests.

He is devoted to our family. A hero.

Yet I am a big fan of traditional, titillating romance in literature. Pride and Prejudice , by Jane Austen. Troilus and Criseyde , by Chaucer. Wuthering Heights , by Emily Bronte. Brideshead Revisted , by Evelyn Waugh. The Great Gatsby , by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Anna Karenina , by Leo Tolstoy. Norwegian Wood , by Haruki Murakami. The English Patient , by Michael Ondaatje.

The Feast of Love , by Charles Baxter.

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Of the ones I have read, the only one that I can unconditionally agree with, is Pride and Prejudice. And Heathcliff, in Wuthering Heights , is so unpleasant. It gets me thinking, and wondering what would make up my own list. Am I perhaps, prejudiced? But what others? I might include Jane Eyre , if Mr. In so many of the Gothic novels, you know that you would dislike the love interest in real life, in spite of his good looks, money, and confidence. Or if the writing in the novel is not really excellent, so that lets out a slew of paperback romances.

But if it takes too long it gets annoying. To make a truly satisfying love story, you have to be able to tell why the characters fall in love, and it has to be more than physical attraction and more than the guy being a prince or a Lord Something-or-other. No insta-love. And you have to fall a tiny bit in love with the guy yourself. The romantic bits in Hunger Games are annoying. In Little Women, Mr. Bhaer is simply too old for Jo and I always wanted her to marry Laurie. But I did like Meg and Mr.

Although it makes me mad that he dies in Little Men. Why, Louisa May??? Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard is a delightful, old-fashioned book of short, romantic stories, so I might put it on my list, although they do have the problem of fairy tale insta-love. Possibly Greenwillow , by B. Chute, except Almost every romance I can think of has a disclaimer for me.

An except …. All in all, I guess I am simply too picky about my romances. Surprises are over-rated. I want to know if I lose 30 pounds on my diet, if we tile the backsplash in our kitchen, if The Mirk and Midnight Hour becomes a bestseller, who marries whom, who has a baby, who moves where, and who wins the lottery. We should remind them that they could provide us with a filter to block out the bad stuff. Patient people amaze me.

I like to be aware that something nice is on its way so I can await it and savor it and plan for it and make lists about it and decide what I will do with it. If I know, I can prepare myself and set my mind in its proper grooves. Today I dove madly into festooning, arraying, bedecking for the holidays. A drive-by? We have the mantel, we have the wide mouldings, we have the stairway with a picturesque banister. Our former Mississippi house was High Victorian, all elegantly carved and polished, with twelve-foot ceilings and beveled glass around the front door.

Although our backyard is a jungle, sadly it possesses no holly or pine trees. It does have lots of ivy including poison , a baby magnolia, and a pathetic little nandina bush with a couple clumps of red berries, hiding under another blob-like shrub. I used the greenery I had, but then I drove out to the woods to rob a pine of a few of its boughs. And then, I was driving back through town, and guess what I saw? I had to jump across a ditch, slosh through puddles and knee-high weeds, and got my soggy jeans and socks studded with nasty little burrs.

But I got my holly. This morning, the wind tugged at me and the clouds glowered as I cut an armful of colored leaves, along with bright yellow chrysanthemums and the last roses, before the rain let down. I stuffed them all in an autumnal vase. I hear the plinky-plink of rain spattering on the tin porch roof and the air conditioner cover.

What better time to indulge in ghost stories? A little scare is delicious. At slumber parties, when I was a kid, I had a repertoire I liked to tell. Our pleasant, girlish stories often involved maniacs and amputees. They rarely involved ghosts. My scary story books are old. By Norah Lofts.

Of course I may regret it tonight, when my hand is hanging over the side of the bed, and my dog comes to lick it. Or is it the dog? Most genres of books need an appropriate villain of one type or another for conflict. The study of villains can be valuable—both in writing and in Real Life. Forewarned is forearmed. The types of scoundrels are many and varied, ranging from Evil personified, such as Sauron in The Lord of the Rings , to the weak, stupid thug who is being used by someone else—like the two silly dognappers in Dalmatians.

When conjuring up the bad guy, a writer must choose which type of villain best suits the story. Bernard should be. The fairy tale revealed only that he was rich and had murdered several wives. So…I considered womanizers, abusive husbands, and psychopaths—some of whom I have met, others about whom I have read. In general, womanizers can either be charming in a smarmy, salesman-type way, or they can just seem like really nice, unthreatening guys who are fun to talk to. Both styles are charismatic, attentive, interesting, witty, and flirtatious.

Abusive men start out attractive, which is how they hook their prey, but they push too far, too fast. They want undivided attention and isolate their victim. They urge the victim to do things that make her uneasy. They tend to have extreme, unpredictable highs and lows, along with a nasty temper. A psychopath is superficially charming, and has a grandiose idea of himself. He is cunning, easily bored, and has no sense of remorse. He often has many short-term marital relationships. The first quality all three possess is that they can be fascinating when they choose to be.

This is what makes them so dangerous. I tried to weave these characteristics into M. The fact that he is also powerful, wealthy, and handsome makes him even more perilous to deal with. I then added one other thing to give M. Bernard depth. I gave him a couple of weaknesses. Chinks in his armor. He likes children and was grief-stricken when his son died in a terrible way. He truly does start out caring for the women, and he truly is hurt when they disappoint him.

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Although, being human, they are bound to disappoint in some way eventually, and he really takes it to heart! Finally, he is sometimes bewildered and confused by the ghastly things he has done in his past. No wonder Sophie the heroine of Strands fell under M. Combine M. Therefore, Dear Reader, be warned—if you meet a man with the aforementioned characteristics, recognize him for what he silently tells you he is.

Run fast and run far. You can know without a doubt that he is—drumroll—A Villain. A dear Canadian friend asked me to write a blog about MY Mississippi. People have so many stereotypical ideas of my home state, and most of them are negative. Mississippi always gets the short end of the stick. Just look at a map of our coastline—how did Louisiana snitch so much of what rightfully should have been ours? Lush and untamed and ragged. Tangled vines and wildflowers, towering pines, gnarled oaks, and spreading magnolias all flourish without sprinklers because so much rain falls here.

Which brings me to the—. Amazing rainstorms and easy winters. So fun to sit on the front porch and watch. Yes, we have sweaty, sultry summers—perfect for swimming in the river or eating popsicles. Our cold weather is just the right amount of cold. We get temperatures low enough in the fall to create some nicely changed leaves—especially crimson poison ivy and blazing sweet gum.

When we had a rare snowfall, they all sported socks on their hands to build their tiny, dry-grass-littered snowmen. I remember when I was growing up in Southern California, how we would drive from one city to another without any countryside in between. No cows or fields or snatches of woodland. Mississippi has cities, but no huge ones. It has mainly small towns, each with its own charming town hall usually with a clock in the tower and quaint Main Street.

I love driving past puffy cotton fields and contented cows munching away and trucks on the side of the road full of green-striped watermelons. I guess that at least some of what I love here is more small town-ness rather than Mississippi-ness. For instance the mailman chasing me down in the Piggly Wiggly grocery store to deliver a package, our kids being in parades every year, and most of the churches in town praying for our family when we were in a terrible car wreck.

As for the churches—. Mississippi is religious. There are church buildings on every block and those buildings are full on Sundays. They say prayers before football games. People might have looked a tad troubled or surprised when they learned of our religion, but they were always good to us. Each summer, our kids attended several different summer Bible schools—Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Church of Christ. Contrary to the hypocritical, bigoted stereotype put out by much of the media, Christian religious people tend to be kind, generous, and friendly.

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Sally Gardner. Plot Keywords. Parents Guide. External Sites. User Reviews. User Ratings. External Reviews. Metacritic Reviews. Photo Gallery. Trailers and Videos. Crazy Credits. Alternate Versions. Rate This. After inheriting a Christmas tree farm, a woman's plans to sell it change when she falls in love with the townspeople and meets a charming lawyer named Tucker.

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Stars: Meghan Ory, Andrew W. Walker, Aaron Craven. Fir Crazy TV Movie To help those looking to purchase this movie, it is also known as "Oh Christmas Tree". Edit Cast Cast overview, first billed only: Nikki Deloach