indieBRAG Blog Hop!Turning a Cherished Family Tradition into a Children’s Christmas Picture Book

indieBRAG Blog Hop!Turning a Cherished Family Tradition into a Children’s Christmas Picture Book

We’re glad you joined us on the indieBRAG Blog Hop! We’re honored to participate.

Family traditions that are handed down through the years are special to any family — and ours is no exception. As a matter of fact, we are sisters, and we based our children’s picture book, “The Great PJ Elf Chase: A Christmas Eve Tradition,” on an endeared custom our parents started many years ago. The annual ritual of elusive elves dropping brand new pajamas outside the bathroom door on Christmas Eve without being seen or caught was exciting for us when we were kids. The anticipation of the elves’ visit still enchants children not only in our immediate family but in the families of our friends and relatives.

One of our nephews took the challenge of catching a PJ elf to extremes. This particular year, he was determined those elves would not get away! To his parents’ horror, when he heard the “elf squeaks” outside the bathroom door, he jumped from the tub and charged out of the house into the cold weather — stark naked! (Don’t worry…the character in our book wears a towelJ. There have been many giggles in our family through the years as we reminisce about Al’s escapade that Christmas Eve.

So we thought, “Why not write the story? We embarked on a mission of our own — to write a children’s picture book. Another important part of our motivation was honoring our loving and creative parents, who made sure Christmas in our home was always special and based on the amount of fun we had rather than the number of gifts.

Since this was our first picture book, we had no idea how challenging it would get. We knew the story, but we had to find a publisher and an illustrator. In our many, many drafts, we went from writing in prose to rhyme. We’d be rich if we had a dollar for each of the changes we made! We’ve learned a lot along the way, and we enjoyed every minute. You can read about the journey in our blog.

We’re working on another story now — no pictures this time — it’s a middle-grade book. Our advice to those who have stories of their own to tell would be to just go for it! You never know who you might delight and entertain.

The next stop on the indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop is on December 6th with David Penny.


Join in on the indieBRAG December Blog Hop!

Join in on the indieBRAG December Blog Hop!

ALL-ABOARD-with-medallionWant to meet new authors and discover new books? Join in all during the month of December. Visit indieBRAG for a calendar of events.

Look for our post on December 5th!

A Great Christmas Cause: The Pajama Program’s “One Million Good Nights”

A Great Christmas Cause: The Pajama Program’s “One Million Good Nights”

It’s hard to conceive of the fact that every night over one million children are homeless. According to the Pajama Program’s website, the average age of a homeless person is 9 years. Additionally, over 12 million children live in poverty. These facts are disturbing, to say the least.

We love the idea that “The Pajama Program” wants to help as many children as possible feel special and cozy this Christmas. That’s why we chose to donate a portion of the proceeds of our book sales for  “The Great PJ Elf Chase” to their worthy cause.

Since their origin in 2001, they have provided over three million pairs of pajamas and books to children who are “cold and scared.” With over a million children on their waiting list, the organization’s goal since 2013 has been to collect one million pairs of pajamas and one million books for needy children from 0 to 18 years of age by December 31, 2015. I’m happy to say they are on track to do so!

If you’d like to help “The Pajama Program,” you can click here for details. ‘Tis the season….to help a child feel safe and secure, if just for one night.

Start a Family Tradition: 25 Days of Christmas Books in December

lucy with bookReading and family traditions — what a great mix! We all know that children begin to get excited about the Christmas holiday long before Santa makes his entrance or the birth of Jesus is celebrated. So…this Christmas, start the tradition of reading a holiday book with your children each night before bedtime. But first, decide how you’ll amp up the fun.

The Set-Up

Wrap 25 Christmas books before December 1st. Display the books in a special way. You could stack them next to a holiday blanket or decoration, arrange them from largest to smallest in the shape of a Christmas tree or place them in a wicker basket lined with red or green cloth — your imagination is the only limit.

The Books

Buying 25 books is always an option, but it might break the bank if you try to do it all in one season. Mix in a few books from your childhood for a nostalgic touch. Check out books from the library. Scour garage sales and thrift outlets for books in good condition. Don’t think they won’t love opening books that are from previous years. Remember….these books have been under wraps for several months and will include some of their all-time favorites. Of course, you’ll want to make sure “The Great PJ Elf Chase: A Christmas Eve Tradition” is on the book list!

The Process

Once they have pajamas on and are ready to head to bed each evening, your children will choose one book from the display to unwrap and read. If you have more than one child, and you’d rather avoid disagreements (even though I know your children don’t argue), let them take turns making the choice. This tradition becomes even more special when you pair it with a treat, such as inviting Grandma or Grandpa for a reading, drinking hot cocoa, eating a bowl of popcorn or cuddling under a warm blanket. After a book is unwrapped, the children can enjoy reading it over and over till December 25th and beyond.

Your children will cherish this tradition and probably hand it down to future generations. What’s not to love about that?






Ben and Jack’s Top Ten List for Santa!

Ben and Jack’s Top Ten List for Santa!

Need some ideas for the boys on your gift list this Christmas? Ben and Jack are here to help with their favorites.

  1. Perplexus, Original (Amazon, $16.99)
    1. This is a great thinking activity that kids (and adults) play on their own. Perplexus now has several versions out and they are all great fun.61xU7l07dkL._AA160_41geom+tc-L._AA160_510D2MnfRvL._AA160_
  2. Clue51Guo0lKJiL._AA160_
    1. This one never gets old! I still like playing this as an adult. Remember? Miss Scarlet with the Knife in the Conservatory….da da da!
  3. Mindstorm by Lego (Amazon, $349.95)
    1. Okay, this is a big ticket item, but for those kids who love robotics, this is definitely the way to go. For the kids just getting into Legos, anything Lego will work just fine.
  4. ThinkFun Rush Hour (Amazon, $17.99)
    1. If you don’t have this one yet, and you like those games children can play by 31ZhltIQklL._AA160_themselves, this is awesome. Really makes kids and adults THINK!
  5. Snap Circuits Junior (Amazon, $19.99)
    1. They have larger versions of this, but this is a great starter kit. Such a fantastic introduction to electronics.
  6. Lifetime 1269 Pro Court Portable Basketball System (Amazon, $116.52)
    1. This is a great b-ball hoop for the 6-8 year-old crowd. We still have it as the opposite hoop to play some full court in the driveway. Well worth the money.
  7. Flight High Performance Diabolo Chinese yoyo with Handsticks (Amazon, $23.94)
    1. This is an awesome toy. We just saw Cirque du Soleil in Orlando. They51hVOEvexQL._AA160_  have a group of girls who fantastically use these yo-yos to do extraordinary feats. Very cool!
  8. Ride-On Scooter – Original Flying Turtle (Amazon, $89.95)
    1. This is one of those toys that the entire neighborhood seems to drag out of the garage on a nice day.
  9. Mondo Bloxx Cardboard Brick Block Set (Amazon, $35.00)
    1. Jack and Ben got this when they were little guys. This is still being used for making elf traps and any other barriers for important battles.
  10. Fisher-Price GeoTrax Remote Control Railway (Amazon, $150)This is the best toy we ever purchased for the boys. When Ben and Jack were little, Santa left them the basic set. Every year, Santa sets up the train set but adds on with new track, the Clock Tower, engines, and anything else Santa thinks is cool for the train. It was a great tradition for us. And, as the boys are getting older, the train designs get more complex. Awesome learning going on with this toy
  11. Oh yeah…..Ben and Jack would love it if you61R66rrtlAL._AA160_ 51UOSf39phL._AA160_61vCVWfAhQL._AA160_ get your boys a great book to get ready for Christmas: “The Great PJ Elf Chase-A Christmas Eve Tradition.” Start this new tradition where Santa’s elves bring PJs on Christmas Eve with your family this year. Your boys can use their cardboard bricks to set a cool trap!31khGyZ8erL._AA160_