Nell Iris' Christmas

Advent calendar: day 16


Behind door number 16 of my advent calendar is another of my own books, Red Popcorn Strings and Gumball Rings. Casey and Ellis are the reason 2017 was The Year Of Christmas for me. I started writing their story back in March (to make the DSP deadline) and to get in the right holiday mood for my writing sessions, I listened to Christmas songs. Loudly. On repeat. You can imagine what my husband felt about that as April and May rolled along. After their story was written, I just kept going with the Christmas theme and wrote Lenny and JJ. And then I thought I was done, but Danny and Ax knocked on the door to my brain. So I literally listened to Christmas music from March to December last year.

Luckily, Casey and Ellis—the instigators—were worth it. They’re very dear to my heart.



Christmas is coming, and young couple Casey and Ellis are very much in love. Unfortunately, they’re also the definition of dirt poor, and they don’t have the money for nonessentials like decorations. Or a turkey. Or gifts. Between the recent death of Casey’s beloved momma and Ellis’s estrangement from his family, all they have is each other.

When Ellis finds the saddest-looking Christmas tree south of the Mason-Dixon Line thrown away outside his workplace and brings it home to Casey, things look up. Life is still a struggle, but wealth isn’t always measured in money, and what seems worthless to others is often invaluable to the people who love it.

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Tell me about the best Christmas present you’ve ever gotten in your life for a chance to win an ebook copy of this book (Red Popcorn Strings and Gumball Rings) and Unexpected Christmas. Don’t forget to leave your email address in the comment section so I can contact you if you win. I will pick a winner on December 23.

Today’s quote from the book:

It was a ball: a little bigger than a ping-pong ball and wrapped in newspaper. It hadn’t been there yesterday when they’d gone to bed, so Ellis must have sneaked it under the tree this morning.

He sat back on his heels and his hand flew to his mouth.

Ellis had gotten him a gift for Christmas!

Tears welled up in his eyes and spilled down his cheeks. He didn’t wipe them away; he just sat there. Staring at the newspaper-covered ball.

What could it be?

He threw himself on his stomach and crawled as close as he could while making sure not to tangle his hair in the low-hanging branches. A message, scrawled with a red marker in Ellis’s almost illegible writing greeted him: merry xmass boo.

Next to the writing, he’d also drawn a small, crooked heart, with one arch much bigger than the other.

Casey couldn’t keep his hands off it. He traced the heart with his finger, wanting nothing more than to tear off the paper and see what Ellis had gotten him. But of course he didn’t.

Today’s song to go with the story

That’s What I Want For Christmas by Nancy Wilson, because “Hold me, kiss me / That’s what I want for Christmas” is all both Casey and Ellis needs to be happy for Christmas, despite Casey being so enthusiastic about the gift in the quote above.

6 thoughts on “Advent calendar: day 16”

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