Posted in Thoughts

What I Love About Christmas

Some of my favorite things…

I love our community Christmas parade. From the time I was in high school until my children were grown, there were very few parades I did not participate in. I have been a clown and a beauty queen. I have marched with the Aurora Woman’s Club, rode on floats with clubs and my church. I have led the parade and even acted as pooper scooper behind the horses (not my favorite thing to do). I have been on a float with Cub Scouts and marched along behind rescue big strong boys from frightening clowns. I love standing on the sidelines waving at friends and neighbors. Seeing old friends in the crowd and being reunited if only with a wave and a smile. I love the feeling of Christmas, unity and joy the fills the air. The excitement of the children as they rush forward to grab candy and gifts tossed from floats and cars. I love a parade but especially our hometown Christmas parade.

Christmas lights and decorations. I love when the town-works guys bring out the cherry picker and start hanging the snowflakes about town. They are so delicate and pretty. Maybe, if we lived someplace where we had snow on a regular basis, not every two or three years, the snowflake wouldn’t be such a wonderful thing. But here in the south where snow is a luxury that shuts down everything, the pretty little snowflake lights are wistful and fun. I also love to see Ms. Lib’s window displays. She has the best window displays for every season, but she goes all out at Christmas. Ms. Lib, a local hair stylist has a salon on Main Street. Her window displays are legendary. She also has lovely decorations in her yard. The library rivals Ms. Lib for window designs and the museum decorates the fossil park.

I love Christmas cards. I love giving them and receiving them. It is one of the reasons NaNo messes me up. I enjoyed doing NaNoWriMo this year but with it being in November, it makes me too tired to do some of the other things I enjoy doing for Christmas, like my large volume Christmas card/letter writing. I used to love to do a newsletter with highlights of what the kids and I have been up to but now that we’re up to twenty grandchildren I can’t keep up.

I don’t decorate a lot at home because of work and it seems there’s just no time anymore. With a fulltime job, chairperson of the Pamlico Writers’ Group and trying to launch my writing career, something has to give, my poor house needs a friend. I do just what has to be done. Maybe a few days off after the new year will help. My favorite decorations are the snowflake Christmas lights my husband bought to go on our porch. I want to keep them up all year because they are so pretty. The first year, I think I convinced David to let them stay up to almost Easter, telling him the snowflakes could pass for flowers. I really liked those lights, especially coming home from work and the porch being lit up. I love putting the Christmas cards up on the doors, their varied pictures a kaleidoscope of Christmas. But when we put the Nut Crackers on the mantle, unwrapping each one and placing it just so, the love we feel because they were a gift from David’s sister to replace the ones he lost when our home was destroyed by fire. Somethings, no matter their price, have a value greater than money because the heart of the person who gave them. I have ornaments made by a child’s hands and collector’s items, the ones made by the children are more precious than anything money could buy.

Christmas Eve we’ll have a party with the whole Hollister family and a few extras thrown into the mix. Children will run around squealing and laughing, the adults move a little slower but laugh and sing and play. We exchange inexpensive gifts, sometimes gag gifts, sometimes stuff we’ve made, but always something from the heart. We eat, each year we do something different from quiches to soups to this year, we’ll have pizza. It’s all about being together.

Christmas morning, what children who will come and open gifts. My husband and I love filling the stockings. He buys a hundred dollars-worth of chocolate for me and the daughters-in-law. I have fun stuffing gifts into each one’s stocking, making their stocking as much delight as the rest of their gifts. We open gifts, have a big breakfast, usually it is French toast casserole, but we’ve had waffles and ice cream, and monkey bread. This year we’ll go to my uncle’s house for lunch and back home for sandwiches and a couple of games of cards (my husband and sons cheat).

What are some of your favorite things about the holidays? Do you celebrate Christmas or another holy day? What are some of your traditions?

Posted in event, News

My First Presentation

I’m giving my first presentation at the Pamlico Writers’ Conference April 6th. I’m excited and nervous.

I have been a part of the conference steering committee for five years. Last year was my first as chairperson.

I have grown up with the Pamlico Writers’ Group. I started attending meetings nearly twenty years ago. Ten years ago I became serious about getting published. Five years ago I managed to obtain an agent, only to lose her three years ago. Two years ago I faced my fears and self-published. This year I became a part of an international anthology and I will be publishing my third book.

Some dreams take time and sweat-equity. If I can do it, y’all can to.

Join me for the Seventh Annual Pamlico Writers’ Conference April 5th and 6th. Go to for more information.

Posted in Thoughts

Happy Thanksgiving Eve

Tonight is Thanksgiving eve. I love this time of year. From Halloween to Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating loved ones. While here in the US, we celebrate Halloween mostly by dressing up and going door to door begging for candy, I have always felt it was the beginning of our family celebrations. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, I love it even more than Christmas. It is not just about the eating but I have to admit, I love the turkey and all the trimmings. Forme, Thanksgiving is a time of reflection. It’s about stopping to consider what I am truly thankful for. It’s about being thankful for little things as well as the big things. I know when people look at us, they see people on the edge of middle class. We’re hardly rich yet I have so much to be thankful for. I have six amazing sons and a husband who still takes my breath away. I have lovely daughters-in-law who complete our family with their talents and kindness. Ihave a tribe of grandchildren who make me feel like a little kid again. I am blessed and so very thankful for each of these treasures. I am thankful to still have my mom, my in-laws and my aunts and uncles who are always willing to give a word of encouragement or lend a helping hand. For an only child, it is the sense of belonging that comes with my large crazy family that is more precious than money or fame. I love cooking the turkey and dressing, using my mom’s recipes. It is the one thing I like to keep traditional. I enjoy experimenting with side dishes and like to try a variety of recipes, but there should always be something with cranberry and something with sweet potato or it’s just not Thanksgiving. When I first took over the bulk of the cooking I feared not being as good as my mom and mother-in-law. Now much of the responsibility for the dinner is being passed to the next generation. Part of me is sad to pass the torch but another part is glad that I have someone willing to take up the tradition. I know the children will not do everything the same way I did. I didn’t do everything the same way my parents and in-laws did. We take a little of the past and bring it with us into the future, creating new traditions along the way. Not all of my children come home for Thanksgiving and while I miss them, I know they have to celebrate with their families, creating their own traditions as they blend what they have learned from me and what their wives bring with them, creating their own. As I try to write this blog, I am sniffling and snotting over Hallmark Christmas movies. One of the great things about sharing this holiday with my daughter-in-law is not having to be in the kitchen tonight after having a busy day at the store. Before I endthis Thanksgiving blog, I want to list a few things I’m thankful for: I’m thankfulfor loving parents, both my own and my in-laws. I’m thankful for a husband whosupports my crazy dream and pushes me towards it, for good friends whoencourage, enable and console through the many trials of becoming a publishedauthor and the days when I was just trying to survive raising six sons. I’mthankful for my sons with array of personalities and talents, for their wives/girlfriendswho put up with them, and for the beautiful grandchildren they’ve given me. Recently,a friend told me of his idea to have a community Christmas tree. He hopes tobring the community together to spread the holiday cheer. Being a part of thiscommunity is another thing I’m thankful for. It is my love of my town and thepeople in it that inspires my stories. The people here have influenced theraising of my children, helped us when we lost our home to fire, and they haveoffered us friendship and support. Happy Thanksgiving!
Posted in inspiration, Thoughts

What Your Compliments Mean to Me


A suspense-thriller with strong romantic elements, Chrome Pink is a story of survival, second chances and giving yourself permission to have your own happy ending. Rae Lynne is a survivor, a fighter but what she wants most is to have someone to love and trust.


Some of the best compliments I’ve received have been funny, surprising and kind.

One of the biggest compliments was when my cousin went to her local library and asked about me doing a book signing there. Her enthusiasm was a boon to my ego.

I have been blessed to have a lot of support from my family, friends and community. “Chrome Pink” isn’t everyone’s style of story. I’m okay with that. I appreciate those who bought my book and even more, those who read it and let me know they liked it.

My mom’s friend told her my book was the best book she’d ever read except for the cussing and the sex. “Darn, I thought the sex was good.”

Another dear lady told my mom she liked the book but she wasn’t raised with all that cussing. “I wasn’t either. My mom smacked me for saying ‘pissed’.”

My mother-in-law hasn’t read a book in ten years but she read mine. When she’d finished, she said, “The sex was so good it almost made me want some.” I asked, “Did you tell Pa.” Laughing, she said, “No, I didn’t want to scare him.”

My best friend and local librarian informed me she needed a copy of my book for the library. “Wow, my book is in the library!”

The father of my high school boyfriend has bought five books, four the night of my book signing and another one recently. One of the books he gave away resulted in another sale. When his sister-in-law read the book, she thought her son would also like to read it. So, she asked me to let her know when I got another shipment of books.

My librarian friend, bragged on my book signing and that has resulted in an invitation for a book signing at a library in a town I’ve never visited.

My mentor and friend convinced me to submit my book to a very prestigious competition. Win or lose, the fact that she believed it good enough is a great compliment.

I’ve only sold a little over a hundred books, that may not seem like much but to me, it’s amazing.

The assistant to my former agent took the time to tell me how much she liked “Chrome Pink” and she loved the cover.

Those who have taken the time to write a review on Amazon, those who’ve liked it on Goodreads. All of these are encouraging to a new author and greatly appreciated.


My character, Rae Lynne does have a bit of a potty mouth. She’s a survivor and keeps people at a manageable distance with her cursing and appearance. She doesn’t want anyone to get too close. She doesn’t want to care about anyone. She doesn’t want to hurt them and she doesn’t plan to allow them to hurt her.

Life is messy. Love isn’t always pretty. But the right person can see past your weaknesses and flaws to the jewel underneath.



Posted in Book Review

Carolina Home by Virginia Kantra

This Dare Island series is going to be awesome if this first novel is any indication. For a fictional island it feels like coming home. I started reading this book and sighed and felt all the tension in my body just disappear, it was like finally I can relax, I’m home. The characters felt real, they belonged on the island, they were tough and weathered with innocence and sweetness still found in the closeness of small towns. Just when it starts to feel comfortable Kantra would ratchet up the tension just a notch to keep my attention before easing me back into island life. The troubles of the town are real, the problems of the people devastating but the strength and the endurance of these characters are unique to the the harshness of the land that molds them. Only on the outer banks buffeted by the wind and hurricanes, isolated by the rivers and the ocean could these hearty people pull together and be a community. Living on Dare Island is like no other place on earth. The Fletcher family is one of those who have put down roots on the island are beloved by the locals. Few main-landers find their place among the islanders but school teacher Allison Carter proves to herself and the stubborn Matt Fletcher that she belongs with or without him.