Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Great Christmas Tree Tour 2016: Diane Kenyon

Our Christmas trees have evolved many times over the years. We’ve had big trees, small trees, trees on tables, trees in playpens, or trees that filled a room. We’ve had hand-me-down trees and brand new trees, trees from a box and potted trees. But one thing hasn’t changed: the ornaments on every tree have told our story.

I always told myself we’d never have a theme tree. I’ve never wanted to have a tree that matches, that is color-coordinated, or that has ornaments that match in some way. That’s just not my style. But then I realized something. Our trees do have a theme. And the theme is family. 

Both my husband and I grew up in families with an eclectic collection of ornaments, and we continued that tradition. On our tree, we have ornaments that were mine as a child, ones that our children made when they were small, ones that were chosen special for each of us, ornaments that make us nostalgic, and ones that make us laugh. 

It became a tradition for me to find ornaments to put in each of our stockings every year. And while our earliest full-size tree had garlands and ordinary glass balls to fill in the bare spots, when we put our tree up this year, we realized how full it is with only our special ornaments. We no longer use garland, or the colored balls. We now have a simple strand of white lights, a star for the top, and the ornaments.

In fact, as we decorated on the day after Thanksgiving this year, our son, Eric, (who is now twenty) told me that we had no more room and I should stop buying ornaments every year. I told him not to be silly!

As he and his sister, Amy, (who is twenty-four and an English teacher) grow their own households, they may want to take some of their childhood ornaments with them. Amy is all for this, while Eric will pretend he doesn’t want any of them, especially the childhood ones that now embarrass him. But someday he’ll change his mind.

I know he will, because as we put up our tree every year, while there may be some groaning and complaining about how it takes forever and we don’t have any more space, there is always laughter and reminiscing, and echoes of “remember when” as we slowly empty the ornament box. Each ornament has a story, a story of who made it when, or who got it from whom, or what period of childhood it came from, or simply why it’s pretty or special to one of us.

So, I’ll continue to buy ornaments every year, even when it’s hard to find that unique or special one for each person. Because I love every ornament, and the memories they contain. And someday I will expand the tradition as our family grows. Because I like the theme our tree reveals, the theme of family.

About Diane

Diane Kenyon is an aspiring women's fiction author. When she isn't writing, Diane adores reading, knitting, scrapbooking, and her family--although not in that order.

Of her life accomplishments, she is most proud of her English teacher daughter and her Physics major son. In their spare time, she and her husband of 28 years love to travel.

Connect with her online on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Great Christmas Tree Tour 2016: Terri Reed & a Drawing!


Family Traditions

One of our family’s Christmas tradition is to put up our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. We (really me) do this to make the festive season last longer.  The hanging of the ornaments on the tree is such a special time. I love to look at each one and talk about where we got it and what precious memories come with the decoration. There are many homemade ornaments on our tree from when my children were little.  Several have photos of the kids through the years and that is so wonderful to fill the tree with pictures of my children growing up. 

There are also ornaments that were given to us from friends and family. Many years ago I taught gymnastics to kids ages three through twelve. One of my students gave me a cute wooden dinosaur she’d carved in school with her name etched on the side. The ornament still hangs on my tree today. She’s an adult now and I have no idea where she ended up but every year when I hang that little dinosaur on the tree I say a prayer for her and her family. 

Do you have a special ornament that brings to mind someone from the past? 

Two commenters will receive a signed Christmas book and some chocolate. 

A Family Under the Christmas Tree

In this heartwarming tale set during the Christmas season, a single father and a fashion photographer are brought together by a young boy and a mischievous Bernese mountain dog—but first they must learn to set aside their differences if they are willing to let their relationship bloom.

David Murphy never knew much about kids. But when his brother dies unexpectedly, David is granted custody of his six-year-old nephew, Troy, who he’s only seen once a year since he was born. He already has his hands full running his business, and he has no idea how to help the grieving boy. When Troy runs off one day, David finds him at a park playing with an adorable and rambunctious Bernese mountain dog—who leads him to Sophie.

Sophie Griffith has spent her life travelling around the world as a photojournalist. She has never stayed in one place for long, and her new assignment—helping her grandmother for a few weeks—is just temporary. Once Christmas day comes, Sophie is off the hook and can leave for a new adventure. Caring for her grandmother is a piece of cake—but caring for her new Bernese mountain dog, Riggs, is a different story. It doesn’t help that Riggs strikes up a friendship with a lost little boy one day at the park—and leads her to David.

Neither David nor Sophie have time for romance. But as they spend more time together, they start falling for each other even though they know it can’t go anywhere. Sophie will be gone after Christmas, and the last thing David needs is another distraction as he tries to comfort Troy. But as their faith and growing love for the boy and dog unites them, they wonder whether it’s more than a holiday romance…and maybe Troy might finally get his Christmas wish for a family.


About Terri Reed
Terri Reed’s romance and romantic suspense novels have appeared on Publisher’s Weekly top 25, Nielsen’s Bookscan top 100 and featured in USA Today, Christian Fiction Magazine and Romantic Times Magazine, finaled in RWA’s RITA contest, National Reader’s Choice Award contest, ACFW’s The Carol Award contest.

Contact Terri @
or P.O. Box 19555 Portland, OR 97224

Monday, November 28, 2016

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Deb Kastner & Mistletoe Baby

From the first year our youngest was born (she’s now 26!) it’s been our tradition that the youngest member of our family gets to top the tree with our angel. This year it’s my five-year-old grandson Anthony who got to do the honors.

It’s a particularly special year because two months ago my husband (Grampy!) had a double stroke. We’re all so thankful he’s still with us. And with a lot of careful effort on his part, he was able to enjoy his special role in this Christmas tradition, as well. We are truly blessed!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and many blessings as you celebrate the season of our Savior’s birth.

About Mistletoe Baby

Countdown to a Christmas Baby 
After Vivian Grainger buys him at the town's charity bachelor auction, Nick McKenna feels obligated to provide his carpentry skills. He'll help the bubbly blonde construct her dream spa and beauty shop in time for Christmas—but the burly cowboy won't be sticking around.

When he realizes Vivian is pregnant, though, everything changes. Seeing the joy she brings to everyone around her despite the difficulties she's overcome, it's clear to Nick that Vivian—and her child—are what's missing from his life. As they build her dream shop together, Nick will do his best to build a path to Vivian's heart.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Great Christmas Tree Tour 2016: My Kitchen Christmas Tree

We have at least five artificial trees, so my family looked at me like I'd lost my mind when I came home with this small live tree. It called my name as I walked past on a trip to Home Depot.

I grabbed a couple strings of lights and rooted through drawers and cupboards to decorate it with my vintage cookie cutters and utensils. It's one of my favorite trees ever.

Christmas Tree Decorating Tips

To showcase your ornaments, start with the most important ones. Then hang the largest ornaments, spacing them evenly apart.

If you have an abundance of the same or a few that are grazed with age, you can create depth by hanging those closer to the trunk. Shiny ones deep inside will reflect more light.

Fill in around the bigger ornaments with medium and small sizes, balancing the overall look. Finish with specialty shapes, such as bird clip-ons, flowers, vintage cards or bows. For an interesting variety, include all shapes, from icicles to teardrops and different finishes, like satin and glass.

Try to stick with a theme or color scheme each year. You might enjoy using one of your collections, such as teacups, wooden toys or small framed silhouettes. Just about anything is fair game when selecting a fun theme. These are examples from my Victorian-themed tree.

To see all the Christmas Tree Photos, type Christmas tree in the little search box in the upper lefthand corner of this page and click to search. Blogger will pull all of them up for you.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Great Christmas Tree Tour 2016: Susanne Dietze

Thank you for hosting me, Cheryl! We put our tree up early this year so my daughter, home for the weekend from her freshman year at college, could help us decorate.

As you can see, we're currently a colored-lights family (this changes from time to time.) Our tree contains a hodgepodge of ornaments: ones the kids made when they were small, nativity scenes, souvenirs, as well as my collection of teacup and teapot ornaments. I love fancy tea parties, and these ornaments give me a lot of joy.

I love red and toile, so this little ornament is right up my alley. I bought it a few years ago at a tea house when I was with a friend.

Friends sometime give me these ornaments as gifts. The Christmas cup on the left and the pink pot on the right are both treasured mementos of the friends who gave them to me.

Do you collect any special types of ornaments?

About Susanne
Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she's the award-winning author of almost a dozen historical romances who's seen her work on the ECPA and Publisher's Weekly Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and enjoys fancy-schmancy tea parties, genealogy, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos.

Come say hi on Susanne's website,, and sign up for her newsletter for an occasional cheery hello and the chance to win stuff at

About The Reluctant Guardian: 
When Gemma Lyfeld inadvertently interrupts a dangerous smuggling operation in her English village, she's rescued by a mysterious Scottish spy. Now with criminals after her and her hopes for an expected marriage proposal recently dashed, she will make her society debut in London. But not without the man tasked with protecting her…

Covert government agent Tavin Knox must keep Gemma safe from the criminals who think she can identify them—a mission he never wanted. But as he escorts her and her rascally nephews around London, the lovely English lass proves braver than he ever imagined. Suddenly, the spy who works alone has one Season to become the family man he never dreamed he'd be.​

The Reluctant Guardian Links 
Coming from Love Inspired Historical, February, 2017

Barnes & Noble

Friday, November 25, 2016

Annual Great Christmas Tree Tour: Laura Chapman

Christmas trees are one of my favorite parts about the holiday season. They have been for as long as I can remember—and apparently longer. My parents like to tell a story about my second Christmas, when I was 18 months old. They put up the tree and decorations while I napped. When I woke up and came out to see what they’d been up to, my eyes grew wide, my jaw dropped, and I spun around in an amazed, the-hills-are-alive-with-the-sound-of-music-y way.

Now, one of the happiest days of my year is pulling out my tree and decorations. While I may not feel that same surprised awe I’m sure I did all of those years ago, it still fills me with some sort of wonder. 

There’s the delight in seeing my favorite ornaments year after year. Like the pewter ballet slippers my mom gave me when I was 3 to commemorate the first time my dad took me to see The Nutcracker. There’s the antique gold wire star topper I found at World Market when I was 18 and feeling super grownup about shopping for my own Christmas decorations. There are DIY projects, gifts from friends, each one of them feels a little special.

I also love how much my cats love the Christmas tree, too. Jane and Bingley—named for the characters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—get so excited, lots of purring and pawing, when I pull out the box of ornaments every year. I barely get the tree up before they start their rotation of napping under the tree. I’m lucky they’ve only tried to scale the tree a couple of times and they leave it alone for the most part. (As long as I don’t put ornaments on the bottom few rows.)

For me, there’s just something so magical about sitting in a room lit only by a tree with Christmas music playing in the background. And I love the feeling that scene creates. With there always being so much to do, so many worries and concerns, getting to take a few minutes every day to sit in the beauty brings me such peace.

In the spirit of the season, and spreading some of that holiday happiness, I am giving away free ebook copies of my holiday novella What Happens at Midnight to all of my new and current newsletter subscribers. Just signup at and I will send you the download code.

About Making Christmas
While settling into a new career in a new community, Ivy is determined not to let the holiday season pass her by. Enter the grownup advent calendar: twenty-four days of festivities to celebrate Christmas. What begins as a bit of fun turns into a mission to spread cheer when she meets Everett. After learning about his bad Christmas attitude, she invites him to join her quest. Despite his initial reservations, Everett quickly gets caught up in the spirit of the calendar. But when new feelings surface and are impossible to ignore, Everett’s inner curmudgeon threatens to put a damper on the whole experience. 

This holiday novella from Laura Chapman brings the warmth of the holiday season to life.

Find it at

About What Happens at Midnight
Romantic comedy junkie Natalie lives out those fantasies in real life three New Year's Eves in a row when fate throws her together with the same handsome stranger. A heartbreaking turn of events leaves her swearing off of love, forevers, and the holidays (bah humbug). That is until the mystery man from her past reappears years later. Over a holiday season, Natalie struggles to reconcile the whimsical notions of her past with the practical sensibilities she has worked so hard to develop. With the countdown to a new year looming, she must decide whether or not she is willing to give happily ever after another shot.

In this holiday novella by Laura Chapman, celebrate the holiday season with a love story about second, and fifth, chances and learning to trust your heart.

Find it at

About Laura Chapman
LAURA CHAPMAN is the author of First & Goal, Going for Two, Three & Out, and The Marrying Type. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Connect with her online on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and on her website at

The Great Christmas Tree Tour 2016 Kicks Off!

The Great Christmas Tree Tour has become a popular tradition for readers, writers and even editors! I just love seeing how others decorate and hearing about their family customs, and plenty of you enjoy it too, because it's my biggest traffic event all year.  

Once again this season I have a great line up of trees and Christmas decorations you are going to love. You'll want to visit every day to see who has shared their lovely Christmas tree.

I have a few spots left if you'd like to participate. All that's required is a photo and a big dose of Christmas spirit. 

email me at for available dates.

Here's how to participate and see your Christmas tree on the web: Take a photo of your tree as soon as it's up. 

Take a photo of a tree you particularly enjoy, for example at a museum, a lobby or mall.
Send me the photo as a .jpg attachment. Include anything you'd like to share: a family tradition, something about the ornaments.

If you're an author, include a cover and a brief blurb about your current book, so readers can learn more about it and you.

Check back in the morning to see Laura Chapman's tree and a GIVEAWAY!