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Category: Christmas

Making Ornaments

At this time of year I get very distractible, and trawl through the web finding Christmas ornaments to make. I have no shortage of ornaments — I just like making stuff — and I save patterns and possibilities on my computer, so I thought I’d share some here, starting with paper ornaments.

All the ornaments in this photo are made of paper, except the holly wreath, which is polyclay. I’m not terribly patient so most of these are very easy, even though they don’t immediately look it. Three of them are “german bells” — the red and white pointy one, the green one and the small red and gold one) and they can look really beautiful, especially if you use gorgeous paper. (I love the red and white paper which was wrapping paper I got in a shop.)  If you want to make some yourself, here’s a link. You can also hang them the other way up and they look lovely that way as well.

Years ago my Vietnamese students showed me how to make fat little stars out of the strips you used to pull off the sides of computer paper. (That’s how long ago it was *g* ) We made heaps and strung them on a line all over the classroom and staffroom.  I spray painted some gold and some silver and left most of them white, and they looked so pretty.

And one year I made a heap of these kirigami stars  —kirigami is like origami except you cut the paper as well as fold it. These are made out of the inside of envelopes. I was recycling, but also I kept finding more patterns inside envelopes and so kept making more stars. Until then I never realized that there even were patterns inside envelopes. There are made from 8 small rectangles. You can glue them together at the end, but I didn’t and they stayed together remarkably well.

I really liked the ones here made from old music sheets, but I didn’t have any music sheets, and if I did I probably wouldn’t have wanted to cut them up anyway. This site shows you how to make them. Believe me, they’re very simple — a bit fiddly the first time, but after that — well, I made heaps while watching TV.

And there’s a slightly harder version here that looks very spiffy. You can see how the choice of paper makes such a difference. Her stars are olive green and silver and look so lovely.

This is one of the easiest of all — a pinecone, from a Canadian site.  It’s just a matter of cutting out the pattern and threading the pieces with a bead between them to keep them separate. I don’t know how much like a pinecone they are, but they do look lovely and graceful once hung up, when they catch the slightest breeze. 

And this one is even easier — it’s just strips of paper glued or stapled together. Really easy but quite elegant, and would look lovely in silver or gold paper. I love the way paper ornaments twirl and move in even the faintest breeze.

I have lots more, but I don’t want to bore you so that’ll do for today. Do you like to decorate your home for the festive season? Do you make any ornaments yourself?

A snippet — The Christmas Bride

Here’s a little snippet of my novella, The Christmas Bride.
Ash (Blake Ashton) is riding to Davenham Hall to meet up with his business partners.  It’s dark, it’s freezing, it’s sleeting — and he never wanted to come in the first place . . . 

Ash pressed on. It started snowing again, not the soft, gentle floating flakes of white that he remembered from childhood, but hard, sleety pellets of ice that stung his face. His mood worsened.

Rounding a bend on the edge of a thicket of trees he came across fallen branches strewn across the road, blocking his way. He swore and slowed his horse to a walk, narrowing his eyes against the darkness, looking for a pathway around the blockage.

“Stand and deliver!” The voice rang out. A short man in a long coat stepped forward. He was muffled to the eyes with his hat pulled low. “Throw down your valuables.” His voice was hoarse. His pistol showed in brief silhouette against the snowy background.

Ash was cross, cold, tired and in no mood to be robbed. He pulled out his own pistol.

The footpad’s pistol wavered in surprise, but he did not lower his gun. For a moment the two men simply stared at each other.

“I’ll wager I’m a better shot than you are,” Ash said. “Drop your gun or you die.” 

The words were barely out of his mouth when a small figure rushed out at him from the other side of the road yelling “No! No! No!”  

Something stung his cheek, Ash’s horse shied in fright, there was a loud report from the footpad’s gun, and Ash fired his own pistol in response.

Ash brought his horse back under control. The footpad was a still, dark huddle on the ground, and a small figure was bent over it. “Charley! Charley! Are you dead, Charley?”

A child? Out here in this weather? At this time of night?

“Charleeeeey!” the boy wailed. He turned to Ash, his face a pale shape in the darkness. “You’ve killed her, you’ve killed Charley.”

Her? Ash pocketed his pistol and leapt from his horse.

The boy flung himself at Ash, pummeling him in terror and fury. “Don’t you touch her! Don’t you dare! You’ve killed her, you’ve killed her!”

“Stop that, boy!” He caught the boy’s fists in his hands. “Let me look at her—you did say she was a girl, didn’t you? Your mother?” 

“My sister.”

Dear Lord, what the hell was a girl doing, playing footpad? “Let me see. You don’t know if she’s dead or not. She might have only swooned.” He released the boy.

The boy looked to be about eight or nine, skinny and distraught, and dressed in a coat too big for him. “She’s bleeding.” He held up a small bare hand and even in the gloom, Ash could see the dark stain of blood

“Let me look.” Ash thrust the boy to one side, and knelt down in the mud beside the girl’s body. He pulled the muffler aside and pressed his fingers to the side of her throat, searching for a pulse. He held his breath and concentrated. 

“She’s alive. She’s breathing.” Ash breathed again. He hadn’t meant to kill anyone, let alone a girl. But his hand came away sticky with warm blood. She might die yet.

The Christmas Bride goes on sale on November 9th.
You can buy the e-book at Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble or use this universal link to find it at your favorite e-book store.

Cover Magic

The Christmas Bride is up for preorder!

At least it’s up on amazon and pending on some other e-book sites (Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play) and it should be ready on all platforms by launch day, which is the 9th November. (Fingers crossed.)

It’s been a fascinating journey, this self-publishing, and I’m learning so much along the way. For instance, when I was thinking about the cover, I knew I wanted something a bit Christmassy (which is tricky for the Regency-era, as Christmas trees etc weren’t in until the Victoria era) so I knew it would mainly be greenery and red berries. And snow.

I also wanted the image to fit in with the Chance Sisters covers, as the novella is part of the same series. I trawled through a lot of cover image sites and finally I found this image (on the left), which had the simplicity I wanted and a dress that looked like a real Regency-era dress, and I loved the lushness of the red velvet spencer.

And I know some people don’t like headless covers, but I do, because I hardly ever see a face on a cover that is anything like the hero or heroine I’ve imagined. So this way, we can each imagine our own heroine. What do you think? Are you in the headless or full-face camp?

So I bought it, and then sent it to a cover designer — who transformed it from a nice picture of a girl in a red spencer, and a green leafy background (not so likely in winter), to a lovely snowy Christmassy scene with a smatter of red berries. All we fiddled with after the first draft was the lettering of my name — making the edging a bit darker. And as you can no doubt tell, I love it to bits.

I’ll write some more about the self-publishing process and the things I’ve learned next time. And of course, I’ll tell you more about the story.  Feel free to ask me any questions.