What fun to have my bestie check in with some news about the Christmas Town anthology coming up in October!
What’s the scoop on the new Christmas Town anthology, my friend?
Thanks for sneaking the Christmas Town wrecking writing crew in to visit, Nan!
It won’t be here until October 10—go ahead and mark your calendars; I’ll wait—but the storytellers of Christmas Town, Maine, are busy getting our duckstories in a row. (Yeah, that’s not really a word, but for writers of continuity stories of any genre, it’s important!)
A little history—as opposed to duckstory—in case you haven’t been to Christmas Town before. The series started with Christmas, Actually, by Melinda Curtis, Anna Adams, and Anna J. Stewart back in 2014. The stories and the town were so much fun that the writers wanted to keep it going and invited others to join them. This year’s anthology will the eighth appearance of repeat characters like Posey of Posey’s Diner (along with Elmer the Elf); Gus, Barty, and Marv (three old guys who hang out in front of the hardware store); and the Knotty Elves, who live at the Over the River retirement complex and cause all kinds of good trouble.
This year’s collection is called Lights, Camera, Christmas Town! We are so excited because Hollywood’s coming to town. A movie’s being made about A Carousel Christmas and the town couldn’t be more pleased. The heroes and heroines this year are…well, you’ll see them when you read. I will say I’m having a really good time with mine. Of course, they’re not doing anything like I thought they would, but what can I say?—it’s Christmas Town!
Lights, Camera, Christmas Town! will have eight stories. The lucky writers this year are Tanya Agler, Anna J. Stewart, Melinda Curtis, Cheryl Harper, Cari Lynn Webb, Beth Carpenter, LeAnne Bristow, and Liz Flaherty. We’ll be sure to let you know when pre-order happens. Until then, thanks for catching up. See you at the pond in Reindeer Meadow—I’ve heard there’s ice skating. And people are lining up at the gazebo…
Here’s an excerpt from Mistletoe Memories, the first story of Lights, Camera, Christmas Town!—written by Anna J. Stewart.
“Morning, West. Barty, Gus, Marv.” Sam Collins, who had taken over the now mayor’s home repair and remodeling business, hurried up the steps. His hands were shoved deep into his wool lined denim jackets. “Pretty cold this morning, huh?” He nodded at West’s coffee. “Should have stopped at Gina’s myself. Heard you were just there. Wanted to talk to you about some special orders if you have time. Unless you aren’t up for it.”
“Why wouldn’t I be up for it?”
Gus and Barty coughed into their gloved hands, but Sam didn’t seem to notice. “Marnie told me over dinner last night. You hanging in okay?”
“Marnie told you what?”
“About Lark Matthews coming back.” Sam looked completely shell-shocked. “You know, to oversee that TV movie she’s producing. Nick approved the…”
The trio of old men’s coughing sounded like a sudden influenza outbreak, with Barty shaking his head like a flea-bitten retriever.
West’s ears rang louder than a cavalcade of bells on one of Haverford Stable’s sleighs. “Lark’s coming home?”
The coughing chorus went silent and Sam, his normally passive face marred with regret and he cringed. “Oh boy.” He dragged a hand through his dark hair. “You didn’t know, did you?”
“I did not know.” There was no deciphering the emotions currently swirling around inside of him. They were spinning so fast he couldn’t identify anything other than the white noise shock that made his face feel devoid of warmth. “Let me guess.” Realization finally dawned and eked its way through the befuddlement and slight pinch of regret trying to grab hold. “That’s what’s got everyone tiptoeing around me like I’m a broken ornament?””
“Well, can you blame us?” Barty asked. “That girl left you high and dry after your proposal. Ran out of town so fast she barely left tire marks in the snow.”
West frowned. “I don’t think—”
“And after all that work you went to to make her proposal a perfect event. Can’t recall the last time anyone had the church choir singing Bruno Mars’ Marry You at the gazebo.”
Or anywhere else, West thought. What he’d seen as an over the top romantic gesture had been the first nail in his the coffin of his mapped out future. He’d thought he’d been offering one thing but had, in truth, put some pressure on her she’d run.
“Sorry, man.” Sam’s grumbled apology had West feeling sorry for his friend.
“It’s fine.” West was nothing if not resilient. It was funny, though. It had taken up to just a few years ago to feel as if he was viewed as anything but a matrimonial proposal failure. The only man in Christmas Town history to propose post gazebo Christmas Eve kiss and end up with nothing but a ring in his pocket and a broken heart.
Now, with just the mere mention of Lark Matthews, he found himself back where he did not want to be: the object of everyone’s sympathy and pity. Awesome. “Lark’s making a good life for herself.” He kept his voice calm and upbeat. “She must be if she’s comfortable enough with coming back. It’ll be good to see her again.” Even as he said it his heart thudded like the little drummer boy on speed.
“It will?” Barty blinked.
“Absolutely.” It took all West’s effort not to look up at the sky for the lightning bolt headed his way. “Filming a movie here will be great for the town. Give us a different kind of excitement during the holiday rush, yeah? And I imagine they’re going to need to be buying supplies from local businesses including mine.” He plastered on the biggest smile he could manage. “Seriously, you can assure everyone I’m perfectly fine about her coming back.”
“If you say so,” Gus said in a bit of a sing-songy voice.
“I do say. And I’d appreciate you getting the word out about that. Christmas Town is her home.” Whether she liked it or not. “We all know there was more to her leaving than just my proposal. Losing her parents the way she did changed her.” Changed her, but made West determined to protect her; to offer her security and hope and a life filled with more than the trauma of her loss. “She did what she had to do. I don’t begrudge her for that. I’ve moved on. I’m sure she has, too.”
“You’re a better man than me,” Barty grumbled. “Just thinking about her being at that RV park after what she did…”
Then don’t think about it, was what West really wanted to say. Instead, he shook his head and smiled. “I’d appreciate it if everyone stayed on their best behavior around her. She’s one of us. Let’s remember that, yeah? Christmas Town is a kind place. Let’s keep it that way.” It couldn’t be easy, West thought as he pulled open the door and waved Sam inside, leaving the gossip to do what it did best—swirl around Christmas Town like a Christmas Eve flurry.
It took until this moment, until the door to the workshop snapped shut and the warm air thawed out his frozen cheeks, for that forgotten anger and pain to emerge. But neither was aimed at Lark necessarily, but at himself. He’d pushed her too far, sent her into a panic and leaving her with no choice to run away, while he was left behind with a ring in a box and a broken heart. And the dreams…
Oh, the dreams he had.
Dreams he still secretly harbored because even after eight years, he still loved her.
Utterly and completely.
Doesn’t that look like fun? Wait till you see the rest of the story…er…stories. I can’t wait! And you don’t have to! You can get taste with a free download of Christmas, Actually here. https://dl.bookfunnel.com/y0feq6gh78 All you need is a Book Funnel email account.
Liz Flaherty is rather bewildered by where she’s at in life. She doesn’t feel…er…elderly, but the truth is that she is. The Magnificent Seven grands have grown up on her, her own kids are all now older than she is, and her husband Duane has the same firm hold on her heart he’s always had.
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