all THE KINDLE VELLAS try ’em, FREE!

WHAT IS KINDLE VELLA?

Kindle Vella (or KV, or Vella) is a new service from Amazon that allows anyone to go online and start reading a book IMMEDIATELY! The books are all serialized. They may release one chapter per week, or even a chapter daily. The first three chapters/episodes of any book are free.

USA-ONLY:

For now, Vella is only available to reader in the USA, while Amazon tries out this pilot program. DPP is in on it, and we are even beta-testers for the comments and polls functions. So, some of our stories have comments, and some have polls, and some have both.

FREE AND NOT FREE:

All series (books) being serialized have the first three episodes as free.

For episodes after that, you have to buy them.

You buy them by buying tokens. Most chapters/episodes average out at about six cents/episode.

You cannot currently give tokens as gifts, or buy tokens with gift cards, and you cannot buy someone a Vella story to read, like, “I’ll get this for my friend!” Nope, not now you won’t. But maybe in the future!
And hopefully in the future more countries will be able to get it too.

IS IT GREAT?

DPP’s jury is still out on this one. We’re trying it, and we like how we can put in notes for our readers, and get comments back. As authors it is nice to have connection with readers, because otherwise we never do, and we want to know what readers think. But, it so restricted at the moment with the USA-only tie that we’re not sure how we feel about it. Certainly since we have worked to edit people to are writing their entire novels on their phones, it is appealing to those of us who love our small hand-held devices.

ONE BENEFIT: the reviews a book gets there go with it when it goes into paperback.

ARE YOU THE BETA READER TYPE? ARE YOU JUST INTERESTED IN THE LATEST THING? DPP IS LOOKING FOR YOU!

We’d love to have some folks try out our Vellas and then take a survey on the experience so we can find out what readers think.

Contact us if you want to join in the fun and give us your honest feedback: editor@devilspartypress.com

What do we have on Vella currently?

PICK A READ! ANY READ!

THE PUMPKIN KING AND OTHER TALES OF TERROR

JUST A HOUSECLEANER

CAPES AND MASKS:

HIBERNACULUM:

NEW SANTA/CRIMSON RED

SIMONA’S SON

COMING SOON!

Those fantastic Vella titles will soon be joined by:

Noir collection: HARDBOILED And LOADED WITH SIN

Check this blog for links and announcements.

Thanks for all you do to help DPP keep-on keeping-on. We’re getting more late-bloomers published this year than ever before because you read our books!

WHAT IS OUR MOST POPULAR VELLA SO FAR?

Well, a mother never has favorites, but readers do. So far, in the number one spot for readers is NEW SANTA. I guess folks just love Christmas! (Or hate it!)

When you read a DPP book, it means everything!

DAMN GREAT THINGS!

Art by my child! Sophie Yurkovich~

Can I just tell you that I am so excited that so many Asian actors won Oscars? Not that my Asian daughter wants to act, but I am glad that more Asian people are getting recognized for their contributions to the American/United States world. That is damn great!

AND another damn great thing is that Dave and I are almost finished with Anthony Doyle and his novel, Hibernaculum.

So, let’s discuss this a moment. In truth I never want to be finished with Hibernaculum.

I publish, I realized over the weekend, between individual pieces and full-length pieces, a fair amount of writing by other people. and I usually don’t publish it unless it really speaks to me.

And a funny thing about me, as a human, is that, whether through editing or editing for publication, I sometimes get really excited, really really excited, like so excited! over a book, or a poem, or a whatever… could be a small piece, something that I am lucky enough to work with. And when I am excited I tell everybody in my small circle about it. I wax rhapsodic, as they say. Truly! A woman whose book I recently finished editing wrote a book that also really excited me, and she told me that her spouse asked her, “Why doesn’t Dianne just marry (name of book) she loves it so much?” Oooo, snarky! And, do you know what… my husband asked me the same damn thing. WTH People? Listen, it’s amazing writing, and you can’t stop love! I love her book! And I don’t care who knows it!

And my husband also asked me why I don’t just marry Hibernaculum. So, yeah, Anthony Doyle, I do wanna marry your book. It’s a freaking great book!

Soon we will begin to reveal Anthony’s book, bit by bit. And we have done quite a lot of fun stuff to, and with, his book, not our stuff, really, but Anthony’s stuff, that we have “made flesh” for him, and I cannot wait to see the world’s reaction to it!

And I gotta toot our DPP horn for a hot minute here. We are small, but we are scrappy, and definitely author-centered.

I was at a writing conference guest over the weekend, my second in six months, and the publishing company is flourishing, and my child is flourishing, and the pets are all healthy, and I just ate a great tomato sandwich, and there is always plenty of coffee.

Tuesdays can be boring, and they’re not even “hump day,” so they can lack some pizazz.

But today I want to give Tuesday its due.

We just sent five wonderful books off to Midwest Review of Books and two we just sent off to the proofreader. Yes, we use a proofreader, because one or the other of us (usually me) edits the book, and the author goes over it, and then it needs fresh eyes, and we do not have the eye-time to spare. So we have a proofreader we trust, and we employ her. Freelance, but still, that’s how I edit, so…. I am so proud that we not only give authors publication, we also are able to give a freelancer work. I want to help authors who deserve it get published, and I want to give people work.

It’s Tuesday, and I am excited we’re doing that.


And I am thrilled to say we also have brewing:

~The poetry collection, A Break in the Field, that is well-underway by my new friend and talented poet Ellis Elliot.
~The wonderful surprise that Ellis is planning for the folks kind enough to pre-order some poetry! Oh yes, there is going to be fun there too!
~The poetry collective that is well-underway due to the really generous hearts of some gifted and moving authors who I also think of as friends.
~The kind authors who have trusted me as their editors, hired me freelance, and shared with me their books and stories, and who I also think of as friends now, and who I am rooting for as much as I am rooting for the folks we publish.
~The fantastic Hardboiled and Loaded with Sin noir anthology that is coming your way soon!
~A “cozy” surprise due to announce in… early April?
~A whole new genre of book we’ve cooked up with an editing client who I just had to find a way to work with!
~A little touch of something classic….
~A Fall we plan to fill up with horror! I love reading horror when the leaves turn; don’t you??

~And the wonderful Hibernaculum.

OMGOSH! HIBERNACULUM!!!

And, HEY! You wanna know all about the cool Hibernaculum stuff don’t you? I know I do. We’re making it a fun ride, people. Get your tushie over to Devil’s Party Press and sign up for our newsletter, because much of it is going to be secret, special stuff for the newsletter only! The next newsletter comes out this weekend! Get in that group now!

So, on this Tuesday, though I have no notion or idea of if anyone reads my comically self-important blog (and I suspect not), I have to just use this space to tell you how excited I am.
Thanks for reading!

I LOVE FOOD

It’s no secret. I have “battled” my weight my whole life, and I think almost nothing is as fun as trying a food I have never tried before. I’m getting better at accepting my body as it is, but I still want to try that food I’ve never had before. Like this one, pure coconut yogurt.

I might also be called a foodie too, and perhaps a bit of a super-taster, because I tend to like foods with strong flavors, weird textures, and the like. I adore anchovies. I do not find them to be even remotely too salty. I like to treat myself to an occasional can of herring in mustard sauce, or sardines in mustard. I can drink the cold black over-cooked coffee from the bottom of the percolator with not only ease, but even joy (it’s certainly going to kick that migraine!) And, between us here on this blog, I love a all things dairy. One of the dairy things I love is Leyden cheese, cheese that has cumin seeds in it that I call “kitty-cat” (I use another word actually) cheese, because to me it has a certain scent of a woman. Yep. I just wrote that. Dairy, wow. Ice cream and milk don’t agree with me as much as they did when I was a child, which is fine, actually, though I do miss the occasional glass of chocolate milk with something to go with it like a liverwurst and onion on pumpernickel with mustard. I love sour cream, and buttermilk, could eat a tub of one and drink gallon of the other, and I also like plain yogurt. Plain, not flavored with fruit or, heaven forbid, artificial sugar. Oh yogurt! What have they done to you? I also would prefer to live off of animals less than I do, and so when I saw this plain, unflavored, coconut yogurt, I had to try it. I believe I found it at Sprouts, a ridiculously expensive market that I go into (now that I am back in CA) occasionally just to see what new “healthy” delights have been created.

This stuff is delicious. Yes, I think I could throw it on some too-spicy Indian food or put it on a taco in place of sour cream. It has a colder feeling on the tongue than yogurt or sour cream, almost icy, and it has just a slight sweetness to it, very slight, and just a slight sourness to it. So if yogurt or sour cream are too sour for you, you may like this. Sadly I do not remember if it was pricy. It is thicker and smoother than both sour cream and yogurt (and I usually eat the skyr kind of yogurt). There is no wetness to it. Very dry. No jiggle, no glop. It’s very much like kindergarten paste from the 1970s. I didn’t eat kindergarten paste (though I do remember tasting Play Doh. Not bad, salty, but like sweat salt, not my favorite.), but the texture is bang-on: paste. Thicker than coconut cream , which I have made whipped cream and icing out of. I’m guessing you could do that with this too.

This is a four ounce container at one hundred and ninety calories. Not too many calories in what looks to my eyes like a big container; I don’t think I can eat more than half (it is my afternoon snack). BUT, and this is a big but, speaking as a person with a big butt, look at the fat. 18 grams, and 15 of them saturated. That’s coconut for you. Man, I love fresh coconut. If I ate a whole coconut, which I could not but let’s just say I could, I’d be eating 1400 calories and 144 grams of fat. But, I’d also get fiber, 36 grams of it, and over 50% of my daily iron needs. This has only 2 grams of fiber. So, an actual hunk of coconut may be better for you than this. But if you want it for a treat, you could do a lot worse, and I think it’s really yummy.

Tell me, what are you making for dinner tonight? Sometimes I am so inspired, but I have been editing my tushie off the last few days, and I am a bit brain-fried. I just want someone to hand me a meal. LOL.

AN ADVICE COLUMN ON WRITING, FROM THE EDITOR IN ME TO THE AUTHOR IN YOU: Ahem… Ah- em. No. Just no.

This is a writing advice column. If you don’t want my unsolicited writing advice, do not, I implore you, read on. Fair warning. 😉

I belong to one or two Facebook groups, and recently, in one that is writing focused, another author and I discussed em dashes, which I do not like and she does, and all the kids are using them, and Jane Austin used them in Emma, so there. And she’s written a bucket of novels, so she is not a new writer.

“Yes,” I wanted to say but didn’t, “and I bet you have written them all in the last three to five years.” That is a new writer. Sorry.

And there is a group I belong to (a different group then the first one) called 20 to 50K that is all about writing as many books as you can as quickly as possible because that is how you (20 books) make a lot of money (50K) fast.

And that second group is great because it has a lot of good information given by generous people who have realized that lots of people want something very particular to read that scratches their particular itch (and I do recommend the group, and am not commenting on the fiction the members are writing, but rather their good advice on selling the fiction). The members have realized that if people want more, they don’t care about the quality of the product. If they loved “Beauty and the Beast,” and they want more monster love, with sex, and you give it to them, they don’t really care about plot holes or grammar. Just get the monster and the person both naked as quickly as possible, and do a boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-gets-girl-back-thing as quickly as you can, and on repeat, for them, as much as possible. Publish it yourself, and to hell with people like me. In fact, get AI to write it, or some guy in another country, seems to be Africa or India, slap your name on it, and mic drop!

Heavy sigh.

This is very difficult for me. All of us eat at McDonald’s sometimes, even if very rarely. As I have written previously, I am a person who has spent the better part of her life studying what makes writing not just entertaining, but good, like To Kill a Mockingbird good, which is different from Emma good, but can be the same as Good Omens good, or even When You Are Engulfed in Flames good. Emma, well, it’s not Austin’s best, IMHO, and even Austin is, really, a glorified and now dead romance novelist, as are the Bronte sisters. And while I adored Jane Eyre as a teen, I never liked Wuthering Heights, could not finish it actually, though I tried over and over, and that was back when I was finishing everything. And from there I never read another, because for me, ultimately, romance is boring and full of tropes. Austin has some good books for that genre, I prefer Persuasion, but she also quickly gets wrapped in her own tropes and bores me, and while I would love to take the time to read Tale of Two Cities again, which is in the same century as Austin, I’m not going to pick up Persuasion again in this lifetime. And Emma? Apologies ladies. Apologies.

And I believe that if you have written a novel in a year, you are some kind of miracle. If you have written over ten, and not used AI or that person across the ocean, you have stamina beyond my ken. (If you used AI or that person across the ocean, I make no bones about scraping you off the bottom of my shoe, having accidentally stepped in you.) I celebrate your hard work, and your dedication to your writing, and your making money at it, and all the wonderful things.

I now I wonder if I can, as in my previous post, promise you, that the number of books that will be written that change all conventional rules (or just the ones that particular author doesn’t like or understand) and do well out of it will be small. Because if all the newly minted folks start mass-producing the same genre of book over and over, written to a niche, but rabid, group of readers, and they fill them with clumsy em dashes because they think they make their work look more important, or Austin used them, or whatever, then em dashes instead of commas are going to become a thing, whether I like it or not.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. But the rest of us could end up stuck with it as convention because that is how language works.

You have to be especially educated about the rules to break them and do it well, in an effective way. Yes. But you just have to be part of a huge onslaught of people doing the same thing to change the rules, and run them right the heck out of town.

Can I be annoyingly prescriptive here for a moment? I want to tell you that you have one job: to tell a good story.

All that other stuff that may seem super important to you is fluff to your audience, and could stop them from loving your story. It will stop me. If I drive down a road full of potholes, and I have any other alternative, I will not drive down it again. If I drive behind shopping center that has a long straight run of asphalt that the owner of the shopping center has dropped speed bumps all over to force me to slow down, I am going to curse myself and not do it more than once.

When you have a thought to convey, and you feel the need to interrupt it and stick in an extra bit of information, you can use em dashes to emphasize it, but commas work for that, and are less intrusive to the reader’s eye.

When you have a thought to convey- and you feel the need to interrupt it and stick in an extra bit of information- you can use em dashes to emphasize it- but commas work for that- and are less intrusive to the reader’s eye.

Em dashes are doing this:

How many times do you think an author who is putting words together in a clever, meaningful, or irresistible way is going to need to drop in a giant pointing finger?

I am a well-trained reader and a decent and slightly clever author, so my advice to you is that you should endeavor to find a way to write your sentences so that you’re not constantly interrupting them to stick in information, whether you do it with commas or em dashes. Jane Austin is always trying to pump up her scenes and get her readers very invested in the little romances and petty slights of people who are often rich or privileged enough to sit around doing needlework all day. These are boring people with nothing going on. She is throwing anything she can at it to inflate the lack of drama, and for all we know she genuinely felt the drama. Maybe to her it was tremendously exciting. Maybe she was hot and bored and stuck in a stiff dress that did not lend itself to walking or having fun and this was how she made it through. Maybe every word she wrote was “stop and look” worthy to her. Still, dash away, dash away, dash away all, I’m not interested.

As I get to know the world that is writing and publishing today I find myself sometimes feeling a bit like Inspector Morse. He likes poetry and the classics and classical music and all those around him do not and make fun of him for it. He is a principled dinosaur.

My daughter says my arms are short and calls me a T-rex. Maybe I am a principled dinosaur too.

And my best advice is to also think about the life your story will have without you- when someone is reading your book- and you are not in the room with that person to answer a question or explain. Will the life your book has- without you in that new home- be a good and celebrated one- or a sad and relegated one- or somewhere on the spectrum in between? I would truly like to see us all reach our writing dreams- and- therefore- my advice is because I care- and not because I am competitive with you or want to stop you- or fence you in. And I have to- again- give you the same piece of advice- you have to tread a line between what you want from your book- and what your reader will want.

Same paragraphs as last time-with all dashes. What do you think of the dinosaur’s advice?

AN ADVICE COLUMN ON WRITING, FROM THE EDITOR IN ME TO THE AUTHOR IN YOU: K.I.S.S.

This is a writing advice column. If you don’t want my unsolicited writing advice, do not, I implore you, read on. Fair warning. 😉

I belong to one or two Facebook groups, and recently, in one that is writing focused, someone asked whether a character’s thoughts always had to be in italics.

“Yes,” I responded, “that is standard.”

And then another member jumped up my butt to tell me how all kinds of “world-building” is happening now and people can do whatever they want!

Both are true.

But, listen, Author, even as you create new, far-out worlds, and that is so much fun for you, you have to judge a few things: Is it fun for your editor, your publisher, your agent, and your (hopefully) eventual readers? One piece of advice I might give you is that you have to tread a line between what you want from your book, and what your reader will want.

“I’ll publish myself!” you might yell back.

And yes, you could, and that is what is absolutely happening: lots and lots of people are publishing whatever they want with no feedback from anyone else, and publishing it anywhere they want, and I (me, personally) can just go scratch.

True, until nobody buys your book, or people buy it in a Kindle (or other) online format and you see by their page views that they don’t finish it, or it gets bought in paperback and never read, or they buy it, read at least some of it, and leave you a crap review.

I can promise you, the number of books that will be written that change all conventional rules (or just the ones that particular author doesn’t like or understand) and do well out of it will be small.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

You have to be especially educated about the rules to break them and do it well, in an effective way. And you need some of them anyway, because your reader (if you self-publish and don’t care about the editors and etc.) will need some rock to put his/her/their feet on, or they have no place to stand with the book. Yes, you could drug me, and wake me up in a foreign country with zero information, language, or money, and, depending very much on which country, I might make it out alive with an interesting experience that I enjoy discussing with friends, but few of us would choose that experience, and choose it multiple times.

Can I be annoyingly prescriptive here for a moment? I want to tell you that you have one job: to tell a good story.

All that other stuff that may seem super important to you is fluff to your audience, and could stop them from loving your story.

Another fair warning, this paragraph is about me, exclusively, my qualifications and my ability to be prescriptive in this way, and you can skip this if you don’t give a hoot:
I was lucky that I read every freaking thing I could get my hands on when I was a kid. If you read an earlier post about my Kindle Vella I mentioned that I read The Godfather, by Mario Puzo, when I was under ten years old, by which I mean nine, because we were in our old house. I was not a genius, but I was a precocious reader. I also read my way through The Bible quite a few times while I was bored in church. I preferred the Old Testament. I read The Stranger (Camus) in sixth grade, and it was very upsetting, and I became really overwhelmed by existential dread until I got a new Encyclopedia Brown. I also tried to write a book report on The Stranger, and my teacher admonished me and said my parents should be monitoring what I read. My parents did not monitor what I read, and my middle school had annual used book sale where kids collected books from their neighbors and gave them to the school for the high used book sale, and I bought a book of S&M pornography there in seventh grade because my parents did not monitor what I read, and the school did not monitor what I bought, and, to this day, I think both were the best thing, the not being monitored, not the porn book, which was a parody of A Tale of Two Citiesand about Marie Antoinette, I remember. I also remember buying complete collections of comic strips like Battle Bailey and The Lockhorns, and novels like M*A*S*H, and The Wide Sargasso Sea. For $20 bucks, which my parents would give me, I could get around 20 books, and I was done them in a few weeks. When I got to high school I was in advanced English, where we really took apart the books we read, and in college I majored in English literature, where we did so much more of that, and then, when I went to my MA writing program, my two teachers, Luann Smith for fiction and Chris Buckley for poetry, taught us how to write by making us read and analyze the writing of other well-respected really good authors like T.C. Boyle, Tim O’Brien, Philip Levin, Czesław Miłosz, Diane Wakowski, and Amy Hemple, among many others. I am long-time trained, by my educational experience and my own varied and precocious reading habits, to be very good at spotting what makes work work, and what makes it flop. This is one of the things that concerns me when I see a person on FB say, “Hey folks, I’ve decided to be an editor. I’ll do your book cheap because I’m just getting started!” And people hire them, because they’re cheap. Okay. You get what you pay for, but you may never know what you’re not getting. This is just to say that I am well-prepared, and probably have advice that is not fluff or uninformed. And “This Is Just to Say,” interestingly enough, is one of my all-time favorite poems.

You’re the author. Do whatever you want. And publishing it yourself is always an option.

And my best advice is to also think about the life your story will have without you, when someone is reading your book, and you are not in the room with that person to answer a question or explain. Will the life your book has, without you in that new home, be a good and celebrated one, or a sad and relegated one, or somewhere on the spectrum in between? I would truly like to see us all reach our writing dreams, and, therefore, my advice is because I care, and not because I am competitive with you or want to stop you, or fence you in. And I have to again give you the same piece of advice: you have to tread a line between what you want from your book, and what your reader will want.

Your story should be good, and, if it suits the story and the genre, maybe it should be complex. The mechanics, the things the reader has to do to reach that story, to get that ride or message or what-have-you, should not be the things that cause or add to the complexity.

K.I.S.S. It’s advice that serves me well, all the time, in all situations.

Ornaments

PETS PAST:

One of the first things I like to have on my tree is a remembrance of pets past. Bebe was a tiny Yorkshire terrier that my father bought my mother for her birthday when I was 16. She spurned my mother and moved into my room, and later moved out when I moved out, and stayed with me until I had just nudged past 32. She was a great woman: feisty, in control, discerning (obviously!) and she liked me best. I made that heart when I was 16 out of an aluminum tray. NOT high art, but the love is there all the same.

PETS PRESENT:

This one is for my current dog, Oliver. When he was a puppy-still (just over a year old) he came from an over-crowded hi kill shelter to the DELCO SPCA and then to a foster, and then us. I bought a pack of wooden ornaments for Sophie to paint as a craft, and this one she was supposed to paint Oliver, but he, spay terrier puppy mutt, got it and chewed it up. This is self-decorated by Oliver then, as he is still a snazzy puppy mutt almost 8 years later.

AN OLDIE BUT A GOODIE:

This is is one of the first ornaments I eve bought for myself when I had my first tree in my apartment. It is from my beloved and dearly departed Pier 1, and it is made of some sort of reed or palm, and is a Santa head shaped like a half moon. I was deeply into all things moon in those days, so I am sure that is part of what attracted me to it. I though it was folks-arty, which I am, and a clever interpretation of Santa. And I have had it now… well… since the 1980s!

OH PHO YOU DIDN’T!

This is an ornament that someone gifted to me because of my love of Asian food in general, and I was going through a heavy pho period at the time. OMGosh I love pho. I love the Asian custom (at least in China and Vietnam) of having soup as breakfast. I love soup for breakfast!

I have to tell you a funny pho story. You may not know this, but pho is actually pronounced FUH. Someone once razzed e about it. “Oh! You’re one of those people who has to say Eeee-ron instead of I-ran, aren’t you? And so you have to say FUH instead of FOE like a normal person.” Hmmm… yes, for better or worse, I am the person who cares about the pronunciation, and if they say FUH in Vietnam, then so will I.

In any case, the funny part is when we lived in the San Fernando Valley there was a restaurant name Pho King.

Do you get it? You do if you pronounce it correctly. 😉

SOPHIE’S FAVORITE:

This is an ornament I bought for Sophie, for her future grown-up tree. It is on of her favorite (and one of my favorite too!) foods: cotton candy! What’s not to like?

RAPUNZEL:

Sophie was still teeny when I bought this, handmade on Etsy, to help with her Rapunzel obsession. Sophie wore a blond braid on her head every day for two years after seeing Disney’s movie Rapunzel. We all really liked that movie actually, except for the song, “Mother Knows Best,” which I love but can never get out of my head! In any case, Rapunzel is a one of the more girl-power Disney films. We looked it a lot, and Sophie’s preschool was so nice about letting her attend in her blond braid and tutus every day.

DA-NA-DA-NA-DA-NA-DA-NA- DA-NA-DA-NA-DA-NA-DA-NA… BATMAN!

When Dave and I got together he already had some ornaments of his own, and this was one of them! Batman, scaling the tree in the center of Gotham. We also have the Millennium Falcom, R2D2, Spiderman… and that tells you a lot about Dave right there. LOL. He also owns some creepy elf-like decorations from the 1960s that should have probably stayed in the 1960s. I’m just sayin’….

A GIFT!

I have a wonderfully talented friend who has made me many ornaments over the years. This year she sent me some of her handmade jewelry for my birthday, and she’d put them in boxes she made from old cards. This one was so adorable I stuck a hanger on it and added it to the tree!

NO NO NO NOTORIOUS!

This was also from the same friend. RGB was a hero to both of us, and we went to the 1/21/2017 Women’s March on Washington together. My friend and I met in 1974. Yeah. She’s that friend.

BY THE SEA:

When we were living in Delaware, we were only 9 miles from the beach. That was amazing. One year I bought a wreath at the Holly festival there that had this little guy on it. I love him. And I miss being by the sea. I hope to someday be able to look out of my house directly at a body of water. It’s one of my dreams.

WASHINGTON D.C.:

When we decided to leave Delaware, we went looking for a place we’d feel comfortable in terms of our values, and a place that had a good (better) school situation for Sophie, and the Los Angeles area had that and two family members too. However, looming large on the list was also D.C. I love D.C. It is lively, fun, into politics, which I am too, and feels like it may be more open to diversity than where we were at the time. One wonderful thing D.C. has is free stuff! Yes, you have to pay to park, but the museums, the National Mall, and the National Zoo, all free, and all fabulous! AND, we always used to rent a weekend at a hotel in December: holiday markets, Zoo Lights, and all the politicians are gone, so the hotel rooms are cheap! Cheap hotel, free admission! You just need to drive there and pack food to eat in order to have a truly inexpensive vacation! It’s almost 100% walkable (for those of you who motor on your legs at all). It’s a great time of year to go, and a fun city in general.

TINY FINGERS:

Last in this post (although there are so many more ornaments on the tree) is one of Sophie’s mittens from when we first met her in China. We only have one, and this mitten, I remember, was waaaay to large for her teeny-beany fingers. I love it.

Many of my friends have trees that are worthy of Neiman Marcus, gorgeous, shiny, color-coordinated displays that they change and upgrade every year. And they are lovely, and make me feel luxurious whenever I am able to visit them.

My tree, has always been the same: a live tree, usually fat as Santa, and short, with ornaments gifted or collected or created over the years that may have no connection to one-another… aside from me. My tree always gives me that Crotchet-family feeling of warmth, and enjoying our “not much.” I think I may have often had meager Christmases as an adult, to be frank, but they have always managed to have a tree, and something good to eat, and something good to drink.

I absolutely love Christmas. It is my favorite holiday.

What do you have on your tree?