The year of the pomander?

It’s a busy and festive time of year! I am always busy, of course… 🙂 But I’ve always loved the festive chaos of the holiday season from Thanksgiving through the New Year. Every year I think about fun craft projects that I’d love to do, and then I completely fail to do them because I’m too busy.

Pomanders, for example. There’s a pomander recipe in a book I bought about twenty years ago (maybe more, but I am not doing the math…) – every fall I decide to finally give it a whirl, then December comes around and I realize I’ve run out of time. But there’s still time – this could be the year of the pomander!

I have made plenty of crafty things in the past. A few years ago I ran across this little guy at my parents’ house. He looked so familiar that I thought perhaps I’d given him to my parents as a gift at some point. Then after a while I realized he looked familiar because I’d made him

I am not posting photos of the teddy bears wearing Christmas dresses, but I made a number of those as well… 🙂

Speaking of Christmas, my story “The Mystery of the Missing Presents” is in the Very Mysterious Christmas bundle. I’ve decided to write a series of Christmas stories with the same characters, and this is the second – you can find the first, “The Least Merry Elf,” in The Santa Claus Files bundle, which will be available on December 1st. (“The Least Merry Elf” is also in the Very Merry Christmas bundle, which came out last year.)

My friend Rebecca M. Senese inspired my Christmas stories. She also has a fantastic Christmas private eye series of novels that will be available soon – and I do mean fantastic. I’ve read a few of the books in her series, and can’t wait to read the rest.

I have a very short story in the anthology Edward Bryant’s Sphere of Influence, which will be released on Friday. Ed Bryant was a wonderful writer, and a kind and wonderful man. He passed away earlier this year; this collection was created as a way for the (many!) authors he touched to celebrate his memory and recognize how much he helped so many of us over the years.

Ed founded the writing group I joined in 1999, and I learned SO much from listening to him and his good friend John Kennedy. Being a part of this collection has brought back a lot of memories, and I’m honored to be a part of such a wonderful way to recognize and remember Ed.

I’ll close this post with the opening of my story “Becoming Free,” which is in the anthology Stars in the Darkness. My story is a western – the other stories in this collection range from fantasy to science fiction to historical fiction, but they all deal with justice in some way.

The sun hung low in the clear summer sky, and the warm breeze that tickled the back of Charles’ neck carried the tangy scent of sagebrush. The muffled sounds of the hooves of his mare and the packhorse were slow and plodding on the hard ground.

He’d started out that morning just before sunrise, and it had been a long day on the trail. A few more days’ ride and he’d be able to see the tips of the highest peaks of the mountains that ran north through New Mexico Territory, still white-capped even now, at the end of May.

Cottonwoods grew in clumps along the banks of the creek that wound along the bottom of the gully, the trunks of the trees hidden by clusters of bushes. Little white tufts of cottonwood fluff floated through the air and landed on his horse’s mane.

After a while he spotted the familiar sight of the old, bent tree that marked the edge of the pathway down to the water. It had been a long time since he’d ridden this way, but all the years he’d spent riding back and forth across southern Texas with Jim had etched the trail into his mind. This was the last time he’d ever pass this way—in a few weeks he’d reach Denver and would begin his new life there.


Charles ran his fingers over the placket of his linen shirt, feeling the small, hard shape of the diamond pin he’d clasped to the inside of his shirt. It had been Jim’s favorite pin, and after his death in the fire that wiped out a full city block last year, it was all Charles had left of the man he’d loved.

He liked to think Jim had loved him as well, but some questions were better left unasked.

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