I love the holidays from Halloween to Valentine’s Day this time of year is just so full of wonder and joy. I don’t remember ever decorating for Halloween or Thanksgiving when I was a kid, but Christmas the whole house got a makeover. From the doilies on the tables, the candles, and of course the tree, everything was dressed up for Christmas.
When my own children came along, we decorated with handmade ornaments. I often did a themed Christmas with all the decorations matching that year’s theme from a Native American Christmas tree where I cut my fingers carving tiny fetishes, to a Toys Christmas tree where we even hung some of the kids’ toys on the tree.
As the boys got older, they cared less and less about decorating the tree with me. It’s one of the saddest things decorating a Christmas tree by yourself. I love the movies where families get together to decorate but I guess I didn’t instill that love in my kids. Was I too much a perfectionist? I constantly move ornaments when I think they don’t look just right even when I place them on the tree myself. Did I hurt feelings or are they just not that interested? Whatever the reason, more and more I found myself decorating alone. I’ve learned to make the most of it. Put on a Christmas audiobook, usually a romance, and fix myself a drink whether it’s an adult beverage or something tamer, this year it was an iced Chai tea latte made with cinnamon creamer. The trick to making an iced Chai tea latte is getting the tea strong enough to withstand the ice and of course letting it cool.
My tree is not as themed as it once was. It is mostly red and white with a lot of penguins. Why I like penguins I’m not sure, but they make me smile. I also have a couple of Minions. They make me smile too. I have a few homemade ornaments from friends and family. Ornaments I’ve bought from the craft fair and special ornaments I’ve collected over the years or received as gifts. Having lost all of our old ornaments in the house fire, it’s bittersweet to remember those ornaments. My son’s college ornament, my other son’s Army ornament, ornaments to represent each of the children, some with photos, ornaments made by loving hands of those no longer with us, none of the ornaments were expensive but they were priceless. I am thankful for the memories and the love that went into them.
One of my favorite memories and one that makes my heart swell every year is when my husband hangs my Christmas lights. He’s not big on decorating for the holidays but he knows how much I love it and he does that for me. Coming home from work and seeing the snowflake lights on my porch and occasionally he’ll put out other yard decorations, it fills me with the spirit of Christmas like nothing else can.
What are some of your favorite holidays or celebrations? Do you have a favorite part? Do you decorate? Share some of your favorite things.
How many of us love to watch holiday movies in the heat of the summer? Do you love the Hallmark Christmas in July movie month? How about reading holiday stories during the sweltering hot summer days? Does it help cool you off when you read about snow, Santa, and holiday cheer? If you love Christmas any time of year or if you’re just looking for a little relief from the heat, check out these holiday books in the Christmas in July Extravaganza Bookfunnel Promo.
After a YouTube Video ruined her career and turned her into a joke, the last thing Maddie Henries needed was a man. Especially if that man’s last name was Harrell, but Cole believed in her when no one else did. Can Maddie overcome her fears to learn to trust again? Thrown together to save her aunt’s century-old inn, Maddie and Cole find themselves working together to save Christmas for the people at Teach’s Island.
The Harrell Family Chronicles, #3.5 Can be read alone. It is part of the Harrell family world but not reliant on previous books.
I put my writing career on hold for so many years while I wrestled growing boys into independent men. Now, it’s my turn and it’s not as easy as I’d hoped. No one is banging down the doors to get to my books or to demand my autograph. Although I did have a fantastic audience today, I didn’t read my own stories, because they were second graders, and my books aren’t designed for young minds.
Today I joined other illustrious members of our community to go read at our local school for Read Across America. One of my good friends, Ms. Christy, the second-grade teacher, and my neighbor asked if I’d read to her class. She told them I was a famous author. Well, the famous part is stretching it, but everyone is famous in a small town. The children were wonderful and a boon to my flagging ego. They were delighted to learn their teacher was one of the inspirations for my character, Dana the heroine in White Gold. After reading Dr. Suess’ Daisy-Head Maysie and making paper flowers, the kids asked for my autograph and a couple wanted me to come back and read one of my books. I told them I had a short story I’d written for my grandchildren that I could bring. I think that’s what I’ll do.
What a marvelous treat. I was a little afraid, to tell the truth. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to read to young children, even my grandchildren, and I worried I wouldn’t be able to connect. It started out as a favor for a friend, a thing to do to support my community but it became more. Today made me realize how much this community and the people in it inspire me.
As I told her class, Christy along with my sister-in-law Denise and my good friend, Mary, all combined to help me create the character, Dana.
Dana Windley who later becomes mayor of Leeward, is a community leader. She is an entrepreneur, a small business owner, a volunteer for the school and her community. She also does charity work raising money for things like breast cancer and her local firefighters and paramedics squads. Dana would be the one you would see at the school reading to the children, planning events for the community and doing all in her power to support her town, her friends, and her family.
The Leeward Files and The Harrell Family Chronicles are about REAL people, living in a small town just like where I come from. The town of Leeward is struggling to rebuild after several devasting blows. My home has suffered hurricanes, the loss of businesses and our high school, it is a town that was dying but we are doing our best to revive it. Just like the characters in my stories, there are very real people working to see that the town of Aurora, not only survives, but once again thrives. These people, this town, this community of supporters are the inspiration for my stories and what keep me writing.
Today I’m with Christina Howerin, the host of the upcoming Valentine’s Popup Vendor Event at the newly opened, The Venue, Main Street, Aurora. Hello, what are you hoping to accomplish with this first vendor event?
Christina: Hello, thank you so much for being a vendor and this interview! I recently joined the Aurora Leadership Counsel, and was trying to find a fun way to help local vendors and attract people to come see some of the talent we have here in Aurora.
Sherri: You have several jobs and a couple of independent businesses; how do you juggle everything plus serve on several community organizations?
Christina: Juggle is the magic word… lol I work 40 hours weekly for Pamlico County DSS in the food stamp dept., I have a vendor booth at The Backyard Bee’s in New Bern, I recently changed beauty companies. I am now with VIC Beauty from California and I am also with Park Lane Jewelry.
Sherri: What is the name of your business?
Christina: I was thinking of nicknaming myself Backwoods Barbie.
Sherri: I love it.
Christina: After getting the coffee mug, it just fit.
Sherri: The Venue is the Chamber’s new venture. Are you part of the Chamber of Commerce? Who is handling The Venue rental?
Christina: I have not yet added the Chamber of Commerce to my “Juggle list” yet. I will hopefully be doing that soon. Denise Bonner (252) 670-3711 is a member and she handles the Venue.
Sherri: The town of Aurora has had a bit of a revival lately. It is so good to see the community coming together to make changes. You’re a part of that change.
Christina: Thank you! It’s so nice to see people coming together. I invite everyone to come out to any of the Aurora Leadership Council meetings. Aurora events and happenings can be found on www.auroralife.us. Make sure to sign up for the “Community Life” newsletter also!
Sherri: I’ve invited my fellow writers from the Pamlico Writers’ Group to bring their books to the Popup Event. Who else is going to be at The Venue?
Christina: I started the vendor adventure with my former beauty company about a year ago. I have made some awesome and talented friends. There will be MT’s Cupcakes, Ms. Mary Jenkins, & Funnels of Love, we also have Scentsy, East Coast Customs, 2 Creative Sista’s, handmade wood crafts, purses, towels, jewelry, Colorstreet, Tulaxii, a wide array
Sherri: You were talking of doing other events; what else do you have in mind?
Christina: I plan on trying to have a popup once a month. Next month is set for March 12th. Vendors can sell their items and/ or have a yard sale table. Space is limited, so first to pay gets a spot. If interested, please contact me (252) 375-0915 to be added to my Facebook group of vendors.
Plus Pure Romance representative, handcrafted items and jewelry designer, Bridgett Bonner
Don’t miss this holiday event at The Venue. Find great gift ideas or something for yourself.
John has sacrificed his own happiness to ensure the happiness of everyone else his whole life. As the oldest of the Harrell brothers, he believed it was his duty to protect his younger brothers. When Charlie came to him and told him his high school girl friend was pregnant, he left the farm he loved to join the military so Charlie would have a way to support his family. He never asked, he just did what he felt was best.
When he met Willow, he knew she was amazing. He was willing to accept her on whatever terms he could keep her. He knew she wasn’t the typical farmer’s wife, but he didn’t care, he loved her. When his father died, he didn’t ask her to come back to the farm with him. She had a chance to work at one of the most prestigious hospitals, he couldn’t take that from her. He never asked, he just did what he felt was best. He packed up their son, Walker and moved back to the farm to take care of his mother and brothers.
A farmer and a psychiatrist, can they find a place where they both belong?
Will John continue to sacrifice his own happiness to give those he loves what he believes they need, or will he finally learn to ask?
I believe in happy endings, but some take longer to achieve.
Dr. Willow Rider has only ever wanted two things, to become a doctor and to have a home.
Willow should have fought harder, now it was too late. Her sons didn’t need a mother and her husband, well, her husband would be better off with some small-town girl who liked living on a farm. She should let him go. The thought ripped her heart out. Could she let John go?
When John proposes they start dating, Willow had planned to say no. She’d never been able to tell him no, that’s how they ended up with the boys. Even after nearly thirty years, John Harrell was still the sexiest man she’d ever met and the only one she wanted in her bed. But their marriage was more than just how good they were in bed, and that was so good, no, they needed to work on the real problems. So instead of saying no, Willow challenged him. John couldn’t resist a dare or a bet. She’d not meant to put divorce as a condition of the bet. She didn’t want a divorce, did she? But she couldn’t give in and let John win the bet. They needed to talk…but can she lose the bet and win his heart.
I’m so excited to welcome my friend and fellow southern American writer, K.B. Davenport to my virtual café. Thanks for stopping by Creekside Café, K.B.
K.B.: Thanks for having me, Sherri! I’m really excited to chat with you.
Sherri: Is Magic in Autumn Springs your first published novel?
K.B.: Yes, it is! I released it in November 2020 through Kindle Direct Publishing. I thought about going the traditional route but ultimately decided to self-publish.
Sherri: I’m reading it right now and I’m enjoying it. It’s a slower pace for me but I adore the way you introduce the characters. Who was your favorite to craft? I’m a suspense writer and I often enjoy creating the villains.
K.B.: Thank you! Glad to hear it! I have to agree, villains are fun to write. They became some of my most emotionally complex and developed characters, now that I think about it. They have a lot to offer in terms of flaws and layers. But I also have talking animals in my story, so I have to say they’re my favorites. Marble the wise cat and Harlan the sassy pup. Harlan is a talking animal and a villain, so writing him was really the best of both worlds. And really, Autumn Springs is itself a crucial character. Creating this fictional place was a bit of a love letter to the town where I went to college and to the Natural State where I was born and raised. I wanted to be sure I created a world that represented how I felt about where I’ve grown up and lived within my life.
Sherri: My town of Leeward is an homage to my hometown as well. I love Marble, she is an amazing character. Animals, like children present a unique perspective to the story. Getting into their minds and seeing the world through their eyes can change a reader as well as the writer.
This may have been your first published work, but you are not a novice writer. I can tell. You are too good for this to have been your first. How long have you been writing? Have you always been a writer?
K.B.: Thank you, I appreciate that! I’ve been writing poetry and fiction since I was a teenager, so almost 20 years now. I’ve written in academic and professional capacities over the last decade or so in my “real life” as well. Writing has always been more than a hobby for me. It’s like a sort of tether to reality. It keeps me grounded or lets me explore, whatever I need. I’ve been a storyteller since I was a kid, too, according to my mom. So, I guess the answer is yes, I’ve always been a writer!
Sherri: It shows. You describe yourself as a romantic at heart and there is a romance in your story, do you consider yourself a romance author? What is the difference between being a romance writer versus other genres?
K.B.: I have a hard time pinning myself to any one genre, but romance certainly plays a big part in many of my stories. Although it may not be in a way some readers are accustomed to. I’ve always been fascinated by Transcendentalist writers like Thoreau and Whitman. Romance has become intertwined and synonymous with nature and spirituality for me. That’s what I aimed to show in my book as well, a sense of longing and nostalgia that transcends companionship and gives reverence to the earth. Almost like being in love with the idea of the world itself. As for the second part of your question, I think being a romance writer requires a big heart and a passion for crafting vulnerable characters unlike any other genre. There is a certain level of pain and pleasure that goes into writing romance, and it takes just the right amount of both to create something truly spectacular.
Sherri: I always thought I was a romance writer but even though I want romance in my books, it often takes a secondary position. Sometimes I shy away from the hard stuff, especially the deeper emotions. My WIP has me crying a lot. I’m so ready to move onto the happier parts.
Is your partner a writer or reader? My husband doesn’t read much anymore but he does a lot of my research and helps me with some of my plot points. I enjoy discussing ideas with him because he gives me a different perspective.
K.B.: Definitely the same for me. Romance is one part of the larger picture. My partner isn’t a writer, but he does enjoy reading my work. He’s an idea man. He helps me work out plot points, too. Partners are great for that, aren’t they? They know you so well that they can connect dots even you may miss. Just don’t tell them that, or they may want their own writing credit!
Sherri: You have a serial you’re working on for Kindle Vella, it looks exciting. Tell us about it.
K.B.: Thanks! I’m excited about it. It’s a lot different from Autumn Springs, but I’m hopeful people will enjoy it. I’m calling it Game the Show. It’s a darkly comic look at Hollywood and the game show scene of the early 1980s. The characters are dramatic and flashy, and there are some steamy romantic moments. It centers around two rival game show hosts who vie for the same coveted time slot as well as the same love interest. A bit of a romantic triangle. There’s some bisexual and gay representation as well. I’m also using it as a platform to discuss some of the more sexist and phobic attitudes of the time. I’m a big fan of old game shows, but sometimes I cringe at the way they refer to women, people of color and those in the LGBTQ+ community. So it’s a bit of a satire of that as well. Expect some uncomfortable but hopefully enlightening moments!
Sherri: I grew up watching the 70s and 80s television shows so I’m more aware of what you are talking about but how about younger readers, do you think they will be interested in this series? Who is your target audience? I have to ask myself this question often. When I wrote my Leeward Files series, I was hoping to attract a younger audience, but I’ve come to realize most of my readers are 40 and above even though my characters are mid to late twenties.
K.B.: That’s a great question! It’s interesting to find out who actually reads your work once it’s out in the world. Finding a target audience can be tricky! As a millennial, it feels like I’m straddling generations in some ways. I have close relationships with friends and family who run the generational gamut. I want my work to reflect that. Game the Show may be set in the early 80s, but I think its subject matter will be relatable from contemporary perspectives, especially considering its modern take on problematic social issues. I love historical fiction and seeing behind the curtain, so to speak, so I wanted to incorporate some of that into this project. My hope is that it’ll resonate with early to mid-millennials in America who grew up in a much different political landscape than today, but I want people of all ages and cultures to feel included as well. We’ll see how it goes! I look at writing as an experiment. I love to try new things and see what lands.
Sherri: Do you have any plans for an Autumn Springs sequel or are you writing something different?
K.B.: Yes! I’m currently working on the second book in An Autumn Springs Anthology. I’m calling it Mystery in Autumn Springs. It’s about a young empath and amateur sleuth from up north who has ghostly adventures with her girlfriend during a family reunion in Autumn Springs. I’m also working on a book of southern gothic poetry that I’m really looking forward to sharing more details about soon!
Sherri: Did you say you recently visited New Orleans? I was born not far from there. I went back there after my oldest son was born. We lived about a half an hour from New Orleans. There’s something about New Orleans that you don’t find anywhere else. I bet you found a lot of inspiration for your gothic poetry.
K.B.: Yes, we just visited New Orleans a couple of weeks ago for the first time! That’s interesting you lived near there! You’re so right. It really is a different world there. I definitely feel inspired, so much so that I spent some time there writing in our hotel room. I couldn’t help myself. It’s such a historically rich and vibrant place. Even with all the trials the community has faced, they still thrive. It’s encouraging. We stayed at the edge of the French Quarter near Armstrong Park and the Treme, so we got a good mix of touristy things and local culture. I can’t wait to go back. We’re thinking about visiting again for Jazz Fest this fall. And, yes, I’m absolutely using the experience for my poetry! The architecture alone was the perfect inspiration for gothic romance and drama. I loved it.
Sherri: I hear you like to cook, are you a fancy chef or do you prepare family recipes. I raised six sons and worked in fast food, so, most of my cooking has always been get it out quick. With my sons grown and gone, I like to experiment. I’m an avid Food Network watcher but my husband is more of a meat and potatoes guy, but he’s reforming. Do you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share?
K.B.: That’s great! I think it’s fun to experiment and to try new things in the kitchen. I love to cook. I learned how to cook for my family when I was a teenager. My parents didn’t really care for cooking, so I took it on myself to save us from frozen meals and canned chili. I have to admit, I’m mostly a comfort cook. Fried chicken, pork chops, mashed potatoes, tacos, stir fry, breakfast sandwiches, cinnamon rolls. But my partner and I try new recipes fairly often. We recently made a tres leches cake that was delicious! One of our favorite meals to make is pizza from scratch. I roll a mean thin crust. I’ve made a lot of breads since the start of the pandemic, like most bored home cooks. Here’s a recipe for a citrus bread I made when I ran out of ingredients for banana bread!
Glazed Citrus Bread
For the batter:
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp water, more if needed
Pre-heat oven to 350. Prepare a standard loaf pan with butter and flour.
In a large mixing bowl, combine orange juice, lemon juice, buttermilk and melted butter.
In the same bowl, mix in baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, beaten egg and vanilla.
Mix in flour until all ingredients are combined. Do not over mix; the batter should be light so the bread stays soft snd fluffy.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven. Pour on glaze, making sure to cover all of the bread. Glaze should melt evenly and cover the sides of the bread as it cools snd separates from the pan. Cool for at least an hour. Enjoy!
Sherri: Do any of your hobbies, life experiences or acquaintances show up in your stories?
K.B.: Absolutely! While I’m not as much of a green thumb as Damian in Autumn Springs, I love gardens and being in nature. I grew up visiting a lot of watering holes and going on long drives through the Ozarks, so I love to use those scenic experiences in my writing. Hot Springs and Eureka Springs, Arkansas are two big influences in my work. I wanted to pay homage to their natural beauty. Also, I’m a TV buff. Game shows, sitcoms, live events—there’s always been something really fascinating about the way television operates to me. I figured I should put that to use in my writing, so that was sort of the genesis for Game the Show. In terms of people, I feel like most of my characters are composites of a lot of different people I’ve met. While I don’t want to use any one person as direct inspiration for a character, of course, I will pick certain aspects to infuse in my work. Really, I feel like every character I write has a little bit of myself included, too.
Sherri: If you liked this interview with K.B. Davenport, follow him on social media and check out his book Magic in Autumn Springs.
An independent Southern American writer and designer, K.B. Davenport loves reading and reviewing books by other indie authors. He writes cozy supernatural tales and dramatic stories with LGBTQIA+ themes. K.B. also designs book covers and promotional graphics. He lives with his handsome partner, loves to travel and really wants a pet.
A picturesque small town. A budding romance. A mysterious grimoire.
Welcome to Autumn Springs, a woodsy southern hamlet full of charming folks and scenic beauty. Meet Damian Baxter, a self-professed homebody who works diligently as a librarian at Autumn Springs College. He spends his evenings in his cozy Victorian home on Starry Night Way reading and curling up with his cat, Marble.
After he unlocks his grandmother’s grimoire, Damian begins a magical journey he never could have imagined. With his trusty feline friend by his side, he trains for an incoming threat from a reclusive neighbor and the most powerful dark witch in town, Elias Robicheaux.
Will Damian be able to protect his uprooted life while managing his busy job and a new romance with Bartley O’Dowd, a handsome Irish transplant with a secret of his own? Come along for a moonlit hayride and discover the mystery and magic in Autumn Springs.
Citizens of Henry Adams, Kansas are in the midst of a mayoral election. Trent July has been mayor for the past four years since Bernadine Brown purchased the town online and brought about much change for the small, historically black town built by freedmen. They are once again fighting those who would betray their trust and steal their homes and land. In this awesome, Blessings tale, Beverly Jenkins shows us that might does not make right, and often it is the humble and meek who bring about change and who are the true heroes of the day.
I loved this story with it’s mix of older and younger characters. Ms. Jenkins gives us romance, intrigue, suspense, friendship, and inspiration. In Henry Adams we see what a small town could be like if everyone works together for the greater good. She also shows us the mistakes we make as humans, are failings and shortcomings but how we can overcome these to be better and stronger. Her positive female characters with their strength and courage
As I listened to this story, I dreamed of what I could do in my own small town if only I had the money and opportunity. Like Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, I too have a dream of saving my hometown and making it a place where all children, all people live together in harmony.
Ms. Jenkins gives us a map of what it could be like if we could create our town and give its inhabitants safe places to live, share and seek solace. Henry Adams, Kansas is as close to paradise as we on earth can hope for and I’d love to live there.
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