The Twelve Books of Christmas: The Three Cedars by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho also wrote a Christmas-themed story ‒ The Three Cedars. It starts like a fairytale:

My grandmother told the following story: three cedar trees sprouted in the once beautiful forests of Lebanon. As is known, cedar trees take a long time to grow, and these trees spent whole centuries contemplating life, death, nature, and mankind…

One day, they talked about the future. The first tree wished to be made into the throne of the most powerful king on Earth. The second wished to be part of something that turns Evil into Good forever. And the third wished that everyone who looks at it thinks of God. More time passed before woodcutters came, felled the cedars, and shipped them far away.

Each of those trees had a wish, but reality never asks what to do with dreams…

All three cedars were disappointed, appalled, and hurt by their fate. But in the end, they realized that their wishes had come true, just not the way they had imagined.

What do you think about this story? Is it another variation of the saying: Be careful what you wish for? Or does it tell us to have faith in the providence and its workings?

Author Interview: Casie Lynn Fowler

Tell us something about your book.

Five One and a Half: The Origin Story, is the first installment of the Five One and A Half series! (Book Two will be coming out in 2021). This installment is the origin story of the protagonist, Reagan. The reader will journey with this character, as she learns her destiny and place in a Great War of Good vs. evil.

Who is the ideal reader for your book?

Anyone and everyone can read this series. I have geared it towards young adults (the first installment), so that the reader can grow with the series.

Share the best critique/review of your book.

What inspired you to write it?

I am a single mother, and watching/reading some of the material made me feel like I wanted to create something wholesome. If it wasn’t for God, I wouldn’t have even thought about this project, let alone complete it.

What message would you like readers to take away from your book?

I want readers to feel more confident after reading this and have a better relationship with their families and God. I hope that the series inspires someone to create something else, that will in turn, inspire someone else.

The book is free on Kindle unlimited and the beginning of the book can be read on amazon – Five One and A Half: The Origin Story by Casie Lynn Fowler

Did you dare to believe that your book will be published when you started writing?

Not at all! But I did have faith. My goal was only to inspire one person, and have this installment as a project for myself and my daughter.

Was the process of looking for an agent/publisher discouraging?

Not at all! I received a few “ready to go,” but was convinced by mentors to self-publish. So I studied to be able to successfully do so.

How long did you write the first draft? And how long did the editing and re-editing take?

Total, from the beginning to the end of the first draft was about 1 year. Writing out the entire series outline, editing, formatting, illustrating, learning how to self-publish, etc, took about another year.

Can you share your writing rituals/habits/process?

I enjoy writing most at night, when I am most creative.

Who was your first literary crush?

Hmmmm… I wouldn’t say that I had one.

Did you imagine yourself as an author in your teens?

Maybe 🙂

What was the first book that made you fall in love with reading?

White Fang -Jack London

Did a book ever make you cry? (Which one?)

YES! Most of them!

Do you sing under the shower? Or to your plants?

“In the shower”. -Yes, yes I do 😉

Do you like to cook? What is your specialty?

YES!!!! I am an amazing cook!! I love my crab imperial and my chicken parm (I’m Italian :))

Do you have a pet?

More than one! Including my Great Danes 🙂

What is the most romantic thing you ever did?

Threw an amazing surprise party, wrote a love letter…

What is the most romantic thing someone did for you?

Took me to a New York trip to see my favorite band, took me to a bed and breakfast (long story lol)

Do you believe in love?


Instagram @Casie Fowler

The Twelve Books of Christmas: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is one of Charles Dickens’ most famous and best-loved works. On Christmas Eve, money-obsessed, selfish miser Ebenezer Scrooge gets an unexpected visitor: the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley. The apparition warns him that he will wear chains even heavier than his for eternity if he doesn’t change his ways. During the night, three more ghosts haunt Scrooge: The ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. They remind Scrooge of his innocent, poor, struggling youth self; show him the warm although poverty-stricken celebration his loyal clerk Bob Cratchitt enjoys with his family and introduces him to his crippled son Tiny Tim; show him the happy celebration his late sister’s son, Fred, enjoys with his wife and friends; and, finally, reveal the lonely future that awaits him, dead, mourned by not a single person on Earth, and robbed. After that experience, Scrooge resolves to be a better man.

However, I always wondered would Scrooge change if the third ghost hadn’t shown him what could befall him. Sure, he was upset because of Tiny Tim and didn’t want him to die. Sure, he was upset because of the two horrible, emaciated children, Ignorance and Want. Sure, he enjoyed the games and fun at Fred’s celebration. But would that be enough for him to change? Or did he have to witness what appalled him the most ‒ his frightening, loveless, lonely future? Did he really change or did he repent only to save himself from such a gloomy life and afterlife? Is his repentance pure-hearted or selfish?

Dickens grew up in poverty and knew first-hand how harsh are the conditions in which poor people in London lived. He tried to raise awareness of the hardships poor children face daily, and his intentions were undoubtedly pure. And A Christmas Carol is a beautiful story, of course. Yet, it makes me wonder about Scrooge’s motives. Care to share your thoughts on that?

The Twelve Books of Christmas: Sisi’s Alpine Christmas by Soleil

“Soleil puts the romance back into romance! Italy! The Alps! A hidden Baroque palace! Lovable eccentrics in an Italian small-town! Horses! Dogs! A heroine fallen on hard times! And an enigmatic Italian Count that might be my new to-swoon-over Hero.” (Beatrice van Paulson, author)

Who exactly is this elegant Count Niccolò of Marezza in his Baroque pleasure palace hidden in the wintry Italian Alps? Is this Alpha a villain or a hero? Is he a callous seducer or the last true gentleman? Or is this gorgeous aristocrat destined to remain a mystery?
Single Sisi, haunted by past trauma, is appalled by all the uncouth men and disillusioned with modern dating. Rejecting the brazen demands of Rick, her billionaire client, gets her fired from her job at a contemporary art gallery in Los Angeles.
At 36, with no life and no prospects, she escapes for the Christmas holidays to a picturesque small-town in the magic, snow-covered Italian Alps of South Tyrol .
It is there that she meets the aloof Count of Marezza, whose family ruled the region for the last millennium. The two loners slowly become best friends while preparing together a Christmas masquerade at his manor.
But does he see her merely as a friend? Or is this charismatic bachelor intentionally using his wiles to make her lose her sanity? Is he playing with her like a cat with a mouse?
“She found it suspect that he, obviously a master in seducing women, supposedly was just sitting here, innocently, all alone, in his pleasure palace. Just think of the aristocrats of yesteryear. How often was a poor girl seduced, and afterwards discarded with?! Unfortunately, the imagination of ​​being artfully and selfishly seduced by Count Niccolò von Marezza didn’t allow her mind to become any more serene.”
One fateful night as she finds herself all alone with him, snowed-in in his fairy tale manor, her resolve is put to the test.

This friends-to-lovers Christmas holiday novel is a slow-burn romance. Two passionate people that were hurt in the past, may get their second chance. This beautiful story full of joie de vivre, sensual longing, and heart-pounding moments, may just make your knees go weak.

Author interview: T.L. Shively

Author interview: T.L. SHIVELY

Tell us something about your book.

I have four books published in my Sanctuary Guardian Series, this series is about seven teenagers who discover powers and a destiny as the Guardians of Sanctuary to protect the world and all the magic from the Shadow Master. The Shadow Master wants to drain all magic in the world till it is as dark as he is, the Guardians need to master their powers and learn to work the crystal Crims so that they can defeat the Shadow Master and his creature, the Magine. They meet many different magical beings and have many adventures along the way, more than what any average teenager goes through.

Who is the ideal reader for your book?

Anyone who loves fantasy, magic and twists that they never see coming. My readers have been as young as 9 and, well, I won’t reveal the age of the oldest one but I will say that there is no age limit for fantasy.

Share the best critique/review of your book.

This review was from the first book in the series, The Secret Sanctuary and I love this review, it helped me to write my books better.

This was a good story. A couple of things bothered me, such as teenagers almost never using contractions when speaking to each other. No big deal, but I tend to get picky about stuff like that. A few punctuation and grammatical errors, but nothing serious, I’m almost expecting that, as I read a lot of self-published works.
On to the story… slow start, to be expected so you can learn who is who and get some background on the characters. As things progress, so does the pace, turning this into an interesting premise. The Guardians learning their abilities and how to use them is very well done. The other inhabitants of Sanctuary are varied and fun to meet.

All in all, I enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to the rest of the books.

What inspired you to write it?

I have always had stories in my head, one day I was talking with some friends I used to work with about authors and books. When I told them how I used to write stories when I was younger and always had stories in my head, they said, so why don’t you write a book. I told them no one would want to read it. I was informed not if you don’t write it they won’t. So, I sat down and started my ten year quest to write my first book.

What message would you like readers to take away from your book?

What I would want some to take away from my books is teamwork, friendship, and to never judge a book by its cover.

Share an excerpt from The Secret Sanctuary

Chance stepped away from the table as I.Q. walked up. The first crystal Crim that he grabbed lit up with electricity that flowed through the crystal as it grew from both ends then curved until it resembled a bow, a very elegant looking one at that. As they watched, they could see a thin line of electricity stream from one end of the crystal to the other end until they could see the drawstring of the bow.

“All I am missing is arrows,” I.Q. said, and he pulled the drawstring back as if to imitate firing off an arrow. When he let go, you could see the electrical bolt that flew from the bow into the wall right next to Cole’s head. Cole jumped higher than he had during any of Raphael’s exercises, and they stared at the scorch mark there in the wall that could have been Cole’s head. For several minutes, they stared unable to speak.

I.Q. looked at Cole and stuttered, “S-s-sorry, Cole. I’m so sorry.” His face was as pale as the white walls that surrounded the room.

Cole stared at him for another second before gasping out, “Dude! That was awesome!” He was grinning from ear-to-ear while I.Q. looked as if he was going to puke. “Man, why couldn’t I get a bow?”

He looked back at the scorch mark that could have been his head and laughed. The others started to laugh with him. Leave it to Cole to be more impressed with the bow than the fact that he almost bit the dust. I.Q. was shaken after this experience, and they watched as his bow went back to its original shape. He sat down on the nearest chair and watched as Tia walked up to the table next.

Did you dare to believe that your book will be published when you started writing?

I had lots of hope but knew it was a long shot, but if you don’t try then you definitely won’t succeed.

How many times were you rejected?

I was rejected over a dozen times.

Was the process of looking for an agent/publisher discouraging?

It was daunting but when I found a publisher, that experience was worse than looking for one. The publisher who published my first book was new and soon discovered that it was too much for her. She wouldn’t answer emails or messages and to this day I still don’t know exactly how much money I made, but I did meet many other authors who helped me with self publishing and I am very happy with it.

How long did you write the first draft? And how long did the editing and re-editing take?

It took me a full ten years before the first draft was finally done and with the the publisher the editing and re-editing took a couple of weeks. When I decided to self-publish, I hired a professional editor and that one took about a week or so to polish up the story.

Can you share your writing rituals/habits/process?

I don’t have any rituals/habits or any real type of process. I write when the inspiration hits and that is usually when I am not in a position to write so I end up taking a lot of notes so that when I sit down in front of my computer I can put my notes into my book. I do like to listen to Disney music on you tube when I write.

Who was your first literary crush?

I really can’t remember although I know I always fell in love with the bad boys in the stories.

Did you imagine yourself as an author in your teens?

I liked to read and write but never thought it would become a reality.

What was the first book that made you fall in love with reading?

The first book I can ever remember reading is the Sesame Street book, Monster at the end of this book.

Did a book ever make you cry?

Too many to name just one.

Which literary character did you want to take to bed as a teen?

I truly can’t remember, too long ago.

Do you sing under the shower?

I have never sung in the shower although I do get some of my best story ideas there.

Or to your plants?

My thumb isn’t green more like very pale white, not a good look on plants.

Do you like to cook?

I cook so that me and the family don’t starve.

Do you have a pet?

We have a dog that we rescued, he is a blanket dog and has to sleep under blankets.

What is the most romantic thing you ever did?

I am not the most romantic but am lucky to have a husband who is.

What is the most romantic thing someone did for you?

My husband had a friend’s daughter (who is like a daughter to us) come and serenade me at work for our anniversary, she sang the song Lava. Had me in tears and was so sweet.

Do you believe in love?

Every day! I am happily married with three boys and I experience love daily.

You can connect with the author here:


Reader’s group:




Author Amazon:

The Secret Sanctuary –

The Town That Time Forgot:

The Independence Mine Disaster –

The Battle of Sleeping Lady –

Ah, Amazon reviews

Of course, most of us would gladly drink unicorn’s tears at sunrise after a full Moon or make a bunch of voodoo dolls to get five-starred reviews on Amazon. We find enthusiastic book bloggers who read and review books for free, pay a few book marketers, but Amazon is unattainable like the Holy Grail.

Last week, a book marketer tried to persuade me that no reader will ever buy my book since it, alas, has only five ratings and reviews on Amazon. However, I am such a lucky girl since they work with a reviewer who will buy my book and give me a five-star review. And she supposedly works for peanuts, charging only 175 dollars for one review or 250 for two.

Please, don’t ever accept something like that! Ethics aside, it is illegitimate. Even those who get away with it once or twice will be caught. And suffer the consequences.

I suggest turning to your friends and family for support. All of them want you to succeed, or most of them anyway. It would be wise to gift copies of your book only to your parents and siblings, and explain to your friends how crucial reviews are for every new author. I am sure that they will be glad to buy your book ‒ I mean, come on, how much does an e-book cost? ‒ and write a review. At least friends who enjoy reading. It would be inconsiderate to ask a friend who believes that reading is a waste of time for a favor like that.

Don’t influence their opinion. Instead, let them form their own. You don’t want an extension of your thoughts. Be sure to emphasize that the review doesn’t have to be long, that a few sentences are enough. If they don’t have a way with words, they can always tell you what they thought of the book so you can ghostwrite their thoughts.

For my birthday, I was down with Covid and asked ten friends who enjoyed my book to leave a review on Goodreads instead of sending me flowers. One of them reminded me that the only English words she knows are: beautiful, I love you, shit, and f*ck. She wrote her opinion and asked me to translate it into English so she can post it. And it was a beautiful birthday present! When there’s a will, there’s a way and all that.

So make a list of friends who would enjoy your work, explain the situation, and in no time, you will have ten verified-purchase reviews without breaking the law. And you will be happy because you will know that the reviews are honest.

Emma by Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s novel Emma was first published on December 23rd, 1815.

Before she began Emma, Jane Austen wrote, “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” And that is how “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and a happy disposition… and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her…” was born.

Although Pride and Prejudice is Austen’s most popular novel, many critics agree that Emma is her best work. Irish poet Thomas Moore wrote to his poet friend Samuel Rogers, “Let me entreat you to read Emma ‒ it is the very perfection of novel-writing – and I cannot praise it more highly than by saying it is often extremely like your own method of describing things – so much effect with so little effort!” So much effect with so little effort, I bet all authors on the planet would like others to view their work that way. Scottish author, Susan Edmonstone Ferrier, described it as, “I have been reading Emma, which is excellent; there is no story whatever, and the heroine is not better than other people; but the characters are all true to life and the style so piquant, that it does not require the adventitious aids of mystery and adventure.”

However, others criticized the lack of story. John Henry Newman commented, “Everything Miss Austen writes is clever, but I desiderate something. There is a want of body to the story. The action is frittered away in over-little things.” Other critics were more strict. Yet, readers were mostly enchanted with Emma as much as with Austen’s other works.

My favorite quotes from Emma:

“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control. ”

“Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.”

“Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.”

“The most incomprehensible thing in the world to a man, is a woman who rejects his offer of marriage!”

“If a woman doubts as to whether she should accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him. If she can hesitate as to `Yes,’ she ought to say `No’ directly. It is not a state to be safely entered into with doubtful feelings, with half a heart.”

“One man’s style must not be the rule of another’s.”

“How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!”

“It is very unfair to judge of any body’s conduct, without an intimate knowledge of their situation. Nobody, who has not been in the interior of a family, can say what the difficulties of any individual of that family may be.”

Which Emma adaptation is your favorite?

Start writing

Want to be a writer? Well, that’s cool. But you have to start writing, you know? I have met so many people who told me they want to be writers and that they are writing a book ‒ in their heads. Sorry, but that doesn’t count. Unless it’s on paper ‒ or a screen ‒ even that War and Peace novel in your head is as good as nothing. Unless you start actually writing, you will probably take all those ideas to the other side and regale other unpublished ‒ or should we say unwritten ‒ authors in heaven or hell.

But how to find the time to write? Sorry again, but you will never find the time. You have to MAKE it. Cliche, I know. When I first read that statement somewhere, I rolled my eyes and cursed the smartass who suggested it. A few months passed. A few years passed. I didn’t write a single line because I was waiting for that magical moment when I will have more time.

Since the chances of that happening are in the same range as taking my unicorn for a walk in the park or flying on my broom under a beautiful full Moon, I realized that ‒ what a surprise! ‒ I will really have to make the time.

That is a huge decision. Life-changing. And, just like every huge decision, it isn’t easy. Stay at home and write when the Sun is shining and my friends suggested a picnic? Stay at home and write instead of hiking in a lovely unexplored place? Stay at home and write when there is a great concert on Saturday? An interesting play on Friday? Coffee with the girls on Sunday? Basketball with the boys after work…

Sure, it is important to hang out with friends and indulge in hobbies, but something has to be sacrificed. If you are not willing to compromise, you will never write that book. It’s as simple as that.

For years, I went hiking every weekend. I met with my gang at least once a week. I loved going to exhibitions, the theater, concerts, movies, new bars. And I read like crazy. And I watched movies at home.

Don’t worry ‒ I didn’t need to sacrifice it all. First, I stopped reading before going to sleep and got an hour for writing every night. I stopped watching movies once or twice a week and used that time for research. Three or four hours a week is more than enough for research. I hanged out with my gang every fortnight to make more writing time during the weekend and discovered that those outings were more interesting since more things happened in the meanwhile and we had more topics to discuss. I reduced hiking to twice a month. And long phone conversations are the worst killers of time. That goes for social media too.

And I finished my first book in six months. All those books, films, places to visit were still there, waiting. Sure, sometimes I felt I was missing out big time, but it was worth it, believe me.

Maybe your time-making doesn’t have to be as harsh as mine. Or maybe it has to be even more radical? What about your lunch break? Maybe you can bring a smoothie, sandwich, or something that can be consumed quickly and use the rest of the time for writing. Even half an hour daily is great progress. When you see that you finally put some words on paper, you will know how to steal more time from your day. How long is your commute? John le Carre used that time for writing, you know? With today’s technology, you can write on your phone ‒ use that gift. You can even quietly dictate into your phone while keeping an eye on your kid on the playground. You are already a superhero if you are a parent since you survived that sleep deprivation during the first year and this should be a piece of cake for you. You can dictate while keeping an eye on your dog in the park too.

However busy you are, there must be a way to steal an hour or two every day. And that is an excellent start.

And now, stop reading stuff on the Internet and start writing, please! Tidy up your desk or make a creative mess, and… you know what to do…

Interview: Jacques Von Kat

Tell us something about your book On the Other Side of Alive:

It’s a fun light-hearted journey following Caroline as she crosses into the afterlife, with some bumps along the way.

Who is the ideal reader for your book?

We truly believe this book is for everybody even if they don’t believe in life after death. We have tried to include something for everyone. There is humour and sadness, mixed with paranormal happenings.

Share the best critique of your book:

Thoroughly enjoyed this heartwarming novel, made me laugh and was very touching at moments too. Subject-matter doesn’t matter whether or not you believe in life after death, its a really captivating read, 10 out of 10

What inspired you to write it?

We’ve never wanted to believe that there is a finality to death, so it got us thinking what are our loved ones doing in the spirit world. Is Grandad having a pint and playing dominos with his friends? Is Gran knitting? Or has Uncle Bob gone speed-dating? And that’s how the idea came about we wanted to follow someone’s journey and what they encountered on the other side.

What message would you like readers to take away from your book?

That your loved ones are always with you, just look for the signs.

Share an excerpt from your book.

‘Is there anything else you can tell me about the spirit world, George?’ I looked at him eagerly. I felt I could trust any information he could give me.

‘You know, I don’t go out much…’ He paused and stroked his chin. ‘But I can tell you about robins.’

‘Robins?’ I said, looking to the window.

‘Yes, robins. It is my understanding that a robin is designated to each person who has passed. When a person sees a robin, it means their loved one is watching over them.’ He smiled.

‘Huh,’ I said, wondering how that would work.

‘But sometimes, they get too busy, and that’s why you should have a supply of white feathers,’ he continued.

‘What do I need feathers for?’

‘Anytime you see a loved one, leave a feather. They will know you have been close by.’

‘Okay, where can I get some?’ I asked.

‘You can have mine,’ he said. ‘I’ve nobody left to give them to, anyway.’

Did you dare to believe that your book will be published when you started writing?

Yes, as we always knew we would self-publish it.

How long did you write the first draft? And how long did the editing and re-editing take?

The first draft took 2 months to write. And a further 4 months for all the edits.

Can you share your writing rituals/habits/process?

Sure, so we are very old school and everything is written longhand on paper then typed up once the first draft is complete. We like to get all our thoughts out on paper then start edits afterwards. We did start out as pantsers but now we plot, so the writing is much faster.

Who was your first literary crush?

Ha ha for Kat it has to be Edward Cullen (cliche, I know). I don’t have one.

Did you imagine yourself as an author in your teens?

Yes, both of us have always wanted to be authors and we have written lots of short stories since childhood.

What was the first book that made you fall in love with reading?

The Twits by Roald Dahl for Kat.

Did a book ever make you cry?

No, no books have made us cry.

Which literary character did you want to take to bed as a teen?


Do you sing under the shower? Or to your plants?

No, but we do sing to our dogs.

Do you like to cook? What is James’ speciality?

Yes, Kat is an excellent cook her speciality is Chicken Risotto, Jack rarely cooks.

Do you have a pet?

Yes, 2 Bernese Mountain Dogs

What is the most romantic thing you ever did?

I wrote Kat a love letter asking her to marry me.

What is the most romantic thing someone did for you?

Kat is always booking romantic getaways for me

Do you believe in love?

Yes absolutely 100%

You can connect with Kat and Dave here: