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Excerpt: Winter Holiday Scene of Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

Normally I would start by sharing the first chapter of the book with ya’ll, but since I know we are all in the Christmas spirit right now, I have decided to share this chapter with you first. This is about halfway through the book. Ginny has moved into the castle with the prince, who has ascended to the throne of king by this point in time. The curse is ravaging the land. They are celebrating Winter Holiday, which is pretty much a solstice celebration.

Enjoy!

cover-reveal-troll-gurl-and-the-cursed-kingdom

Ginny tried to ignore what Jeremie had said about the holiday approaching. They had never done much to celebrate at the orphanage. The girls had usually given each other gifts that they had handmade from whatever had been lying around. Knitted scarves or socks were popular. Ginny never received anything, subsequently it wasn’t a big deal to her. Sure, she felt a pang of emptiness in her heart as the other girls exchanged presents and hugged each other, excluding her. But she was actually grateful; it was the one day annually that they never were outright cruel to her. If that was their gift to her, she would take it in a heartbeat. Would’ve been nice if it could last two days, or three, or a week though.

But apparently Winter Holiday was a much bigger affair at the castle. Jeremie kept assuring her that this year would be a small celebration, nothing like when he was a boy and his father had still been alive. He told her of how there had been visitors from foreign lands, including singers and dancers. They would perform at the great dances that were held in the castle’s main ballroom. Ginny had accidentally walked into the empty space once when she had gotten lost upon first arriving at the castle. The room was ginormous. It was bigger than Miss Peters’s cottage, the bed house, and the barn—combined. Jeremie assured her that it used to be filled to the brim with tables jam-packed with every delectable food you could think of (which Ginny could only think of two) and guests suited in their most elegant attire. She could not imagine it. And being an avid reader, she was usually good at utilizing her imagination.

Ginny was in awe of all the decorations that adorned the castle. Green boughs hung in the main hallways, the ones to and from the dining hall and the royal chambers. She had lost count of the number of pine trees that had been chopped down, brought inside, and decorated. The baubles and tinsel were so plentiful as to conceal any branch imperfections brought about by the plague. One ornament on any given tree looked like it was worth more than the orphanage had taken in in any single year. Ginny couldn’t help but imagine if the girls from the orphanage ever got in here. They would be picking the trees bare of all their trinkets, not really caring about them, only what value they would have for resale.

On the last night of the Winter Holiday celebration, local musicians were brought into the castle to perform. There was a modest buffet of food for the intimate collection of guests. Ginny was curious, but she knew her place, knew that she did not fit in with that crowd. But she desperately wanted to listen to the music, and maybe a little of the voices of everyone else’s merry-making. Accordingly, she hid in the library, with the door slightly ajar. She had a book in her lap, but found that her attention was not in it. She had been on the same page for over an hour, her eyes trailing over the same words but not comprehending them. Her concentration was with all the festivities nearby.

She jumped when the heavy wooden door groaned with movement.

“So this is where you are hiding yourself. You know, I almost had to send Luke out in the snow to search for you.”

“You know I get cold easily. It is unlikely I would run off out in the weather.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time.”

“That’s true,” she bowed her head, pretending to study her book.

“Why aren’t you attending the party?”

“It would make me uncomfortable.” It was the truth, and with a nod of his head Jeremie seemed to accept her answer. “I am enjoying the music though. I have heard so little in my lifetime. This is a rare pleasure.”

“Well, we will have to see about getting more of it into your life.”

They were both quiet for a moment. Jeremie moved to take a seat in the chair next to the settee Ginny was stretched out on. He leaned his head way back and exhaled, as if entertaining guests was an effort for him. Then he sat back up and met her eyes.

“I was hoping I could catch up with you before you turned in for the night.”

“Why?”

“I have a present for you.”

“Why? No, I don’t need it. Your taking me into the castle is gift enough.”

“You make it sound like the castle is another orphanage. From the few stories you have told me, I think I am insulted by that.”

“Well, I didn’t have anywhere else to go.”

“You are not free-loading. You are here because you are contributing to the Curse Task Force. And you are doing an excellent job. And—and that is why I want to give you this,” he stuttered thoughtfully.

He reached into an inner pocket of his coat and pulled out a small leather sheath. When he held it out to her, the light from the fireplace caught the silver in the handle and she had a loud intake of breath. She found herself reaching for it even as she said, “But I couldn’t…”

“My father gave this to me when I was a boy. I mostly used it to whittle wood and stab scarecrows. But I’ve had it cleaned and sharpened, therefore it should be in excellent condition for you to take with you on the road.”

“You mean I will be traveling with the company?” Ginny was dumbfounded. She had never expected this.

“Of course. I need my number one girl with me.”

Her heart fluttered, although she knew he didn’t mean it. Not in the way she wanted. Even then, even if someday he grew to like her as she did him, it was all for naught. Ginny knew she could never even allow herself to dream of one day marrying a king. The people of the kingdom would never allow it. Not that there was likely to be any kingdom left whatsoever.

“But you will need it for protection,” she argued.

“I will have my sword, and several knights protecting me. But on the occasion you may get separated, it would be wise for you to have your own weapon.”

Ginny relented and slid the knife from the sheath to examine it. She tried it out, stabbing the air in front of her. It was the perfect size for her chubby, female hands. “Alright. But when the mission is done, you must let me return it.”

“I would never think of letting you do any such thing,” he snickered.

Ginny smiled wide in spite of herself. But her head was bowed, so he couldn’t tell, she didn’t think.

She reached into a fold of her dress and pulled out a small book, handing it to Jeremie.

“What is this?” he asked, studying the plain brown leather cover.

“A gift. I uncovered it in the library.”

“If it came from the library, then it is already sort of mine, isn’t it?” he chuckled, looking at her sideways.

“But you would never think to go in there and poke around yourself. You needed me to find it for you,” she smirked, knowing she had him. “Plus, what do you get the king who already has everything?”

“OK, I give. What is this?”

“It appears to be a history of the kingdom that Merrick kept on his own. I found it in a bureau drawer, almost as if someone was trying to hide it.”

“Weird. So, it mentions my father a lot?”

“I only peeked, but it has your grandfather too.”

He shifted it from one palm to the other, as if weighing the information contained within.

“Thank you for this. And for your friendship.”

“Thank you. Blessed solstice to you.”

“The same to you.”

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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A Proposal for the Birthday Bunny

Christmas has Santa Claus. Easter has the Easter Bunny. Lost teeth have the Tooth Fairy.

All these occasions have a character who delivers you the goods you feel you are entitled just because a certain event happens to take place on a certain day.

I have always felt that birthdays should be the same way. After all, it is the most special of special days. Without your birthday, you would be, well, non-existent.

Wouldn’t it be great if some sort of character brought you your gifts that day?

That is why I have always felt we needed a character such as “the Birthday Bunny.”

Wait...Mr. Floppy from Unhappily Ever After is not what I had in mind.

Wait…Mr. Floppy from Unhappily Ever After is not what I had in mind.

Now, I know you are going to say that Easter already has a bunny. But Easter also has eggs and chicks and sheep. The powers that be can just pick a new animal to adorn the packages of candy and toys. Heck, if we wanted to be truer to the origins of Easter, we should put zombie Jesus on everything. Zombies are still popular these days; that could prove to be a successful marketing strategy. Everyone loves zombies, the very young to the very old.

Plus, if you give the bunny to the occasion of birthday, you get alliteration, which is always highly desirable.

Just think, retailers can only use Santa during the last three months of the year, and Christmas in July. But people have birthdays ALL YEAR LONG! Every day someone somewhere is having a birthday. Stores could have on-going sales with tables of merchandise featuring stuffed animals of the Birthday Bunny and signage with him as well. Or maybe there could be one special sale day a month to cover any shopping for gifts for birthdays occurring that month. The increased visibility would push people to gift more quantity and more expensive presents to their loved ones. It would also encourage people to impulsively gift themselves for their own big days. Instead of rental halls being all booked up in November and December for Christmas parties, maybe celebration parties could be held instead for birthdays and staggered throughout the year.

Whoa. This thing could potentially eclipse the gluttony of Christmas. (I am well aware that that is not what Christmas is supposed to be about, but to retailers and children, it often evolves into that.)

I picture the Birthday Bunny as pink and fluffy. But maybe he should be a more neutral color to appeal to both genders. Maybe a nice oatmeal tan would be good. And maybe he should be a “she.” Maybe the Birthday Bunny should be a nurturing female character. We do biologically require a mother to have a birthday, so it could make sense to have a motherly bunny to give you hugs and gifts and candy.

Woah..not evil Nana Bunny.

Woah..not evil Nana Bunny.

This is still an idea very much in development. But I have had this in my brain for probably 30 years. Maybe I am just jealous that my January birthday gets eclipsed every year by Santa Claus, Rudolph, and Baby New Year. I think it is time for birthdays to be the blowout events they should be.

Now, that is more like it!

Now, that is more like it!

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016! (Not a lie. It is being birthed as we speak!)

What Are You Doing This Holiday Weekend?

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What am I doing this holiday weekend, you ask?

Why, I am being thankful for the men and women in our armed forces who sacrificed their time and lives so that I can live free.

Thank You.

Thank You.

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

[Pssst…Book 2 is COMING SOON!]

Cracking Nuts

I asked for two things for Christmas this year. And I was so happy to get them both.

Works of Ahhh... Nutcracker Prince kit

Works of Ahhh… Nutcracker Prince kit

One item was a Decorate-Your-Own-Nutcracker kit. A number of years ago, for some strange reason, I became very fond of nutcrackers as Christmas decorations. At one point, I even had a six foot tall nutcracker, but I had to kick him out of the house. He was always breaking everything.

You are such a pig!  Leaving nut shells all over the floor...

You are such a pig! Leaving nut shells all over the floor…

I debated how to personalize my little hunk of wood. I am sharing the results with you here, honestly, because it seemed like a really easy blog post.

I present to you, Nutcracker Kid Rock.

I'm a pimp, you can check my stats.

I’m a pimp, you can check my stats.

Also, I wanted to give props to “Works of Ahhh…”, the makers of the kit. The nutcracker is a nice size for decorating, the paints cover in one coat, and the paint brushes are a nice enough quality to save for use on future artistic creations. The stickers included were useful, with details such as eyes and a mustache. The worst part of the project was the patience required to wait for paint or glue to dry before proceeding on to the next step.

It stinks that now that I have him all done and he looks so cool, I have to pack him away for next year. I will forget where I packed him among my dozen plastic storage boxes of Christmas decorations. I probably won’t lay eyes on him again for three years.

Now I am thinking it might have been fun to make a Hello Kitty nutcracker. Amazingly, that may be the one item that I have not seen her feline face plastered on.  Sanrio, get on that.

What was the other thing I wanted for Christmas, you ask? Here it is…

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

Happy Memorial Day!

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MEMORIAL DAY 2014-flag

My favorite holiday.  Thank you from the bottom to the top of my heart for all those who serve our country, past, present, and future.  You protect our freedoms we enjoy daily.  You are my heroes.

My Dad, World War II veteran

My Dad, World War II veteran

This is my dad, Loren. He was in the Army medical corps in Germany in WWII and drove an ambulance. He was there when they liberated a concentration camp.  I never got to meet him, but I am still awfully proud.  My mom always says it was the biggest thing in his life.  He traveled halfway around the world.  And it doesn’t get more momentous than serving during a war.

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