Sally Cronin is Back!

 

For many of us in the world of authors-marketing-ourselves, we know Sally Cronin as a treasure who selflessly promotes others, spotlighting their new books, re-showcasing their old ones, and offering endless encouragement and support to artists of all stripes.

But Sally is also an author, and a prolific one at that. Not only does she write blog posts that enlighten her readers on everything from the benefits of garlic to heart health to the weather in Ireland, but she also writes short stories and books, both fiction and nonfiction. And she’s here today to tell us about her latest work, What’s In a Name.

Welcome, Sally!

Thank you so much Amy for asking me over for an interview.. It is a real pleasure.

Tell me about your new book, What’s in a Name.

The short stories in this collection are about ordinary people who in some way bring their own unique spin on their names.  Can Alexander, a small boy with a mother who is a fan of Richard Burton, be great?  Can Clive conquer one of the most deadly predators in India?  There is romance, ghostly events, serial killers and those who need revenge and hopefully something for everyone who enjoys an eclectic mix of genres.

What made you decide to write about that particular subject?

Names are fascinating things. They often identify the decade you were born in and in the cases of some celebrities where you were conceived. We might be named after a favourite aunt or uncle in tribute and to keep their memory alive. In my case I was given the second name Georgina after my maternal grandmother. If we are named after someone famous it can also be a huge challenge to live up to their exploits. Imagine being called Napoleon, Caesar or Einstein!  The alphabet provided a great prompt for the stories and as there are stories for both male and females for each letter… There will be 52 tales by the time the second volume is finished.

How long did it take you to write it?

I spent about six months writing the stories and posting them on my blog. I wanted to get initial feedback before publishing and this was very useful. Also it was easier to fit in a story a week rather than sit down and write twenty all at once.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Probably coming up with a different concept for each name. It helped when the name was previously owned by someone with exploits or historical connection as the story could be geared to something similar. Also I wanted to avoid offending anyone on and offline if depicting a less than reputable character!  I still wanted friends at the end of the book.

Do you see aspects of yourself in the stories?

Certainly I have used locations that I know and have visited for example in France, Ireland and Sri Lanka where I spent some of my childhood. From that perspective it uses my experiences but with 52 stories over the two volumes, I am going to have to get creative.

Tell us about some of the other books you’ve written.

My books are a mixed bag. Non-fiction relating to health and media and then fiction in the form of novels and collections of short stories. I love the discipline of non-fiction where things have to be exact if the book is to be taken seriously. This is why I always have a fiction book of some description on the go at the same time for some light relief.

Do you write in a solitary environment or do you like to be around other people, noise, etc. when you write? I suppose what I’m asking is, do you write at home or in a coffee shop or another location?

I share an office with my husband who is a book designer and we tend to get on with our own work and confer from time to time on specific projects. I cannot write if there are distractions or lots of noise. I love music but keep that for the treadmill or when we are out walking.

Do you write every day? What does a typical day look like for you?

I do write every day in one format or another. The blog is important to me and so is maintaining my social media platforms that I use for the promotions that I do for other authors. I spend an hour or so going through the overnight traffic and also boosting the posts that have been scheduled from midnight. I may then do one of the daily blog posts before getting on with a chapter of my latest book or a short story to post during the week. I do take breaks for shopping, cooking and exercise, but it is fair to say that when it comes to writing… I need to get a life!

Do you have a favorite story in What’s in a Name?

I do have a favourite and it is the story of the toddler Clive in Sri Lanka who finds himself in a dangerous place. I was his age when we lived there and my first memories are of my amah pulling me away from danger. Touching any of the wildlife could be lethal as rabies was rampant even in the dogs and of course plenty of poisonous insects and predators. But I also remember the smell of curry, the warmth of the sun and swimming with my sisters.

Did you design the cover? If so, what’s in the background of the picture?

The photograph of the peacock was taken in the royal gardens of the king’s palace in Madrid when we took my mother and sisters there when they visited in 2000.  We took a number of shots and so we can use a slightly different one for the second volume.  My husband designs my covers and in the last few books I have used photographs that mean something to me.

Do you like to do readings, say at a bookstore or a library? Do you get many opportunities to read your work?

I did do some readings in the UK when I was living with my mother from 2008 to 2012 and had the opportunity. I loved it but we returned to Madrid  after my mother died and of course the language was an issue. This is another reason to get some of my books translated into Spanish at some point.  Since coming back to Ireland last year we have been focused on getting our new home finished but I am keeping an eye open for book festivals coming up in the summer.

What’s next on your writing horizon?

I have three books that are on their way to the final process. Two non-fiction, one on surviving modern life and some of my thoughts on why we find ourselves at odds with the world at times. The other is a people management manual for home and work… There are parallels including working with outside contractors, communicating with those in authority, and teenagers! I am nearly finished with volume two of What’s in a Name and then I must make a start with the sequel to Tales from the Garden which will be set in Ireland.

Where can readers find your books?

My books are all on Amazon, most in print and Ebooks.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

My books are also available via my own publishing site, some at a reduced price.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books/

And where can readers find you on social media?

Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

It has been such a treat having you on Reade and Write, Sally. I hope you’ll come back again sometime!

Thank you again Amy for asking me over.

Until next week,

Amy

 

 

 

Meet Phyllis Moore

 

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My guest this week is Phyllis H. Moore, author of Opal’s Story and the Sabine Trilogy. She’s here to discuss her newest release. Welcome, Phyllis!

Tell me about your new book.

My latest book is Tangled, A Southern Gothic Yarn. It is a saga of the Kirkland family, an east Texas oil tale of new money and bad blood. Nettie Randall, the newest generation and protagonist, is desperate to discover her father and try to redefine the Kirkland legacy. However, she is still tied to her dysfunctional mother, Delores Cecelia Kirkland and the haunted mansion built by Nettie’s great grandmother, Roberta. Nettie is sensitive to spirits, human and animal, and looks to these angels for guidance and information. She has choices to make, but she does not always distinguish between the heroes and the culprits.

Who is the audience for the book?

I think all of my books would appeal to women who enjoy fiction with some mystery, twists and a touch of humor.

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

I live close to the fictional scene of my book. It is a sparsely populated rural area near the Texas coast between Houston and Beaumont. It is a productive oil field in close proximity to east Texas and the Louisiana border. When I worked as a social worker, I frequently rode the ferry from Galveston Island down the Bolivar Peninsula. I liked the birds and landscape of the area and made up stories in my mind about the families that might live in large houses down isolated roads. I am familiar with the beaches, storms and barriers to daily living in the area.

I did some research regarding life in New Orleans in the early 1900’s to formulate Nettie’s great grandparents and how they arrived in the area. The other characters I drew from my years of social work and situations I found families in during my visits.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Originally, I wrote the story from Nettie’s view point as a precocious child. After attending a writer’s conference, I decided to rewrite it from a third person point of view and change Nettie’s coming of age story to more of a reflection of her childhood. It was difficult to reimagine her older. I also added two characters. Weaving these characters into the story took time, but I enjoyed it and love the characters: Pup and Tess.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

I envisioned people when I was writing and I clearly saw Margo Martindale from August Osage County, playing Mrs. Sophie and I saw Woody Harrelson as her husband, Joe. I am so out of touch with the young actresses, but Jennifer Lawrence or Abigail Breslin would be Nettie and DeCe would be Ashley Judd. DeCe is the most colorful character- and the most flawed.

Have you written any other books?

Yes, I have written a novel, Opal’s Story. It is set in west Texas, a place I visited often as a child. A tragic event occurs in the late 1940’s and a family has to deal with that history in preparation for the death of the central character in 2008. I have also written a trilogy, The Sabine Trilogy: Sabine, Josephine’s Journals and Secrets of Dunn House.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

Yes, I am in three Facebook groups and talk with a group of self-published authors in my area.

Do you write every day?

I try to write every day. When I do, I write all day and I do not want to stop.

When you read a book, what authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

I like Fannie Flagg, Rebecca Wells, Rick Bragg, Jeanette Walls, and Kathryn Stockett. Women’s Fiction in the gothic style is what I enjoy most. Occasionally, I will pick up something my husband is reading in the thriller/suspense genre and I always enjoy it, but it is not what I am drawn to first.

Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?

Scotland. I want to look at castles, men in kilts and sit in a pub.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write and write, then write some more. Read From Where You Dream by Robert Owen Butler and then write again.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I like the old horror movies, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? The movies before gore and blood became popular and Bette Davis wore gauzy gowns and red lips. Anything by Alfred Hitchcock. Those remind me of my childhood.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Enjoy your skin and body because it is going to be downhill . . . and pay attention to what you enjoy and do that. Follow your passion.

Describe yourself in three words.

Gardener, reader and writer.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?

I began writing three years ago when I was sixty. I had no idea I would enjoy it as much as I do. Then when I started thinking about publishing what I had written, I soon found I may not have time to wait for agents, editors, etc. I made the decision to self-publish. I have learned to format, design covers, and this marketing thing. The things I have learned about social media and algorithms boggle my mind and I still don’t understand it, but there are new things to learn every day. It has been a learning curve of major proportions, but a terrific ride.

Here’s a bio I’d like to share with my readers about you, Phyllis:

Phyllis H. Moore is a retired social worker. She has reinvented herself twice since retirement in 2004. Her first reinvention was to own and operate a bed and breakfast with her husband for seven years. You never know people until you sleep with them. After selling the B & B, they moved to a cabin in the country and she began to write three years ago. Phyllis lives on a small ranch with her husband and their adopted terrier, Ollie Bubba. They also claim a gopher-eating feral cat. Phyllis enjoys travel, reading, gardening, writing, and visiting her adult children on Galveston Island, Texas

Where can readers connect with you?

http://www.phyllishmoore.com

https://www.facebook.com/phyllishmooreAuthor/

http://www.pinterest.com/corazon

https://www.Amazon.com/author/phyllishmoore

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6047212.Phyllis_H_Moore

https://www.twitter.com/phyllishmoore

Where can readers find your books?

http://www.phyllishmoore.com

https://Amazon.com/author/phyllishmoore

Thank you so much, Phyllis, for visiting Reade and Write. Readers, do you have any questions for Phyllis? Please feel free to ask them in the comments below.

And before you leave, please consider lending me your voice for the release next month of my new novel, House of the Hanging Jade. I’ve set up a Thunderclap campaign. It’s like an online flash mob. It’s easy to participate. You just click on this link: http://thndr.me/RgNkzh and sign up to support House of the Hanging Jade through your Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr account. It doesn’t cost you a cent and Thunderclap doesn’t share your information or do any other nasty thing. On April 26th, release day, a blurb hits your feed that says you support the House of the Hanging Jade Book Birthday. Thank you!

Until next week,

Amy

 

You Have Homework

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I’ve spent much of the last two weeks researching the history of the county where I live in preparation for a new series I’ll be starting soon. I’m nowhere near done, but I’ve enjoyed the journey and I’ve learned a lot. It struck me while I was working that I always assume the history of the place where I live is boring–it doesn’t matter whether I’m talking about the town where I grew up, the town where I went to college, or any of the other places I’ve lived–but time and again, I’ve been proven wrong.

History takes place everywhere, so it stands to reason that every place has a history.

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But it’s easy to forget.

The county where I live now has been plagued by pirates, fires, disease outbreaks, wars and battles, natural disasters, and any number of other horrors. It’s fascinating! And as has been the case with my other books, I’ve enjoyed the research so much that I have been reluctant to put on the brakes and actually start writing.

This misconception of mine, this belief that nothing interesting has ever happened where I live, reminded me of a similar phenomenon that I’ve noticed before. I call it “ignoring my own backyard” and I’ll give you an example. I lived in and near New York City for almost nine years. I never visited the Statue of Liberty. Never saw Ellis Island. Here’s another example: I lived in Louisville, Kentucky, during late spring/summer one year. Never visited Churchill Downs (not that I’m a fan of horse racing, but the racetrack looks pretty interesting).

I could give anecdote after anecdote until I’m blue in the face, but you probably get the picture. It’s easy to get caught up in the routine of your own life and never venture out to see what your community or your environment has to offer. Sometimes those offerings are tourist traps, but often they’re not. I think we get involved in the busyness of every day and when we contemplate visiting some of those places, we tend to think, “I can visit that place anytime. It’s just down the road.” Or “My kids went there on a school trip, but I just haven’t had time. I’ll get there one of these days.” But very often we never get there.

I’m thinking of one place in particular, a place near my home, a place I’ve never been, a place I’m planning to visit soon. It’s been there for three hundred years and it deserves a closer look. It’s on my list of places to see before summer is over. Who knows? It may end up in my next book.

So that leads me to your homework assignment. Try visiting someplace new this week-someplace near your home, someplace you’ve never been. A place you’ve overlooked driving down the road, a place you pass every day on your way to work. If it’s a museum or other facility that helps you learn more about the history of where you live, you get bonus points.

Where are you going to go? I’d love to hear about it.

Until next week,

Amy

A Review: The Impersonator

I am a member of Goodreads, a website I’ve mentioned on this blog before. As a quick review, there are lots of things I like about Goodreads: first, once a reader reviews a certain number of books, the site offers suggestions of books to read that are specific to the reader’s preferred genre(s). Second, the site allows readers to tag books that they want to read, books they’ve read, books they’ve reviewed, and many other categories. Third, readers can make friends on Goodreads that also post their reviews, suggestions, and reading progress. Fourth, a reader can join as many groups as she’d like. These groups have discussions that can be very interesting.

One of the groups I’m part of on Goodreads is called Gothicked. I’m also a member of the group called Ladies & Literature and one called Retro Reads. On the Gothicked feed one day, I came across a woman by the name of Mary Miley. She caught my attention because she asked me a question about one of my books. She indicated that she’s also an author of The Impersonator, a Roaring Twenties mystery. Not long after I heard from Ms. Miley, I went to Virginia to the Suffolk Mystery Writers Festival. While I was there my husband took our three kids to Colonial Williamsburg and explored the sights in the village. One of their stops was a bakery, where they bought me a treat – one of the best muffins I’ve ever tasted. It was a sweet potato muffin, and it’s not something I ever would have ordered. But it was delicious. At that bakery they also bought me a souvenir – a cookbook featuring recipes of some of the goodies at the bakery. Alas, the sweet potato muffin recipe wasn’t in the book, but something else was: the foreward, written years ago by none other than Mary Miley.

I emailed Ms. Miley and asked her if she was the same person who wrote the foreward to the cookbook and she answered that yes, she was the one who wrote it, long ago in a former life when she worked in Colonial Williamsburg.

It seemed like a sign: I was running into Mary Miley everywhere, so I needed to read her book.

I’m so glad I did.

The book follows the story of a young woman who is hired to play the role of Jessamyn Carr, the daughter and heiress of a couple who drowned at sea in the early 1900s. Jessamyn, or Jessie, herself disappeared in 1917 at the age of fourteen. Whether she ran away, fell to her death along the rugged Oregon coast where she lived, or was the victim of some other mishap, no one knows.

Well, almost no one.

Almost seven years after Jessie’s disappearance, her maternal uncle, Oliver Beckett, thinks he recognizes Jessie in a vaudeville performance. When he approaches the actress after the show, he finds out that the actress is not Jessie, but is, in fact, Leah Randall, who has been in vaudeville since early childhood. Oliver, a hard man with a love of money, asks Leah if she would be willing to take on a new role: that of his niece, Jessie. If Leah, a dead ringer for Jessie, can convince the trustees of the Carr estate and more importantly, the rest of the family, that she is really Jessie, then she and Oliver can live out their lives in leisure. There are only a couple problems: the charade has to go smoothly and quickly, before Jessie’s twenty-first birthday (at which time her cousin will inherit the fortune), and there’s a lot to learn. Oh, and there’s at least one person who really knows what happened to Jessie, so that person will know Leah’s an impersonator.

Leah initially refuses Oliver’s suggestion, but after she finds herself out of work and out of money, she agrees to take on the role. As the days and weeks go by, Leah finds that being part of a family, something she’s never experienced, has its highs and lows. She has made a promise to herself that she will find out what really happened to Jessie, and her investigations lead her into speakeasies, the seedier areas of 1920s-Portland, and some very dangerous circumstances.

I loved The Impersonator. Ms. Miley does a beautiful job exploring the worlds of vaudeville and Prohibition-era speakeasies. I love the descriptions of the Oregon coast and the house Leah moves into; it’s fun to read about the lives of the wealthy in the 1920s. Leah and the members of Jessie’s family are a group of well-developed characters; Leah is tough, but spunky and kind; her cousins, twin girls, are naive and fascinated by her; her male cousins are less so-they have a hard time believing that Leah is really Jessie and aren’t afraid to tell her so; Jessie’s aunt is cautious and can be overbearing; Jessie’s grandmother can be distant, but is shrewd and has a soft spot for Jessie.

The book is fast-paced and never feels like a history lecture. It had me guessing up to the very end, and what a satisfying ending it was! I found myself suspicious of almost everyone at one time or another, and it was great to be kept on my toes throughout the novel.

The Impersonator was the bee’s knees!

Until next week,

Amy

New Year’s Resolutions 2.0

Happy 2015!

Last year at about this time, I shared with you the things I wanted to accomplish in 2014. I was successful with some, not so much with others. This year I’ve decided to give resolutions a different name: a wish list. The word “resolutions” has a do-or-die sound to it, and I don’t want to feel bad at the end of the year when, inevitably, I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted to do.

For example, you may remember (I know certain people do and they keep mentioning it to me) that I wanted to clean the garage. Didn’t happen.

I also wanted to clean the attic. Also didn’t happen. I  tried, believe me. But it wasn’t to be (nor was the replacement of my kids’ closet doors).

But I did write more and I hope I improved, I took more pictures, I became more active on social media, and I ran a 5K.

So I know you’re dying to find out what I have planned for this year. Not surprisingly, I’d like to clean the attic and the garage. I’m not going to call these resolutions, but I will simply refer to them as two items on my 2015 wish list. By the way, these will probably be on my wish list every year until I die. Replacing my kids’ closet doors should also go on the list.

Here are some other things I’ve added to my wish list:

1. start another new novel (more on this later in the year) (this is actually more of a resolution than a wish);

2. start writing a series (again, more on this later in the year–hopefully) (ditto about being a resolution);

3. replace the garage doors, one of which is held in place with a broom handle;

4. landscape my yard with something other than dead plants;

5. run another 5K; and

6. help my daughter sew the tote bag I’ve been promising to help her with for two years.

Wait! I’ve already done #6! Cross that right off my wish list!

Want to see pictures? I knew you would (some of you may already have seen these on Facebook).

tote bag 1tote bag 2

As I think of other things I want to add to my list, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, what’s on your wish list for this year? I’d love to know!

Until next week,

Amy

 

Social Media Primer

When my editor called me in August, 2013, with the good news that Kensington wanted to publish my first novel, one of the things he told me was that I should have a presence on Facebook as a writer. It would allow readers to find me online easily and also allow them to interact with me and with each other. So I got a Facebook author page. The publisher also wanted me to be accessible to readers not on Facebook, so I started my blog, got myself a website, and signed up for Twitter, too.

I’m supposed to update the status of my author Facebook page at least once a day, but frankly, sometimes I find that a little forced. Even boring. And I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. For any of you who may be unfamiliar with Facebook, it is common for authors to dedicate a Facebook/social media page to news about their work, their author events, their publicity, etc. And it’s important to keep it updated so people know what an author is currently working on or promoting.

I like to use my author Facebook page to introduce readers to the places I write about. It’s common for a reader to find pictures of Boldt Castle, Singer Castle, the Thousand Islands, and other upstate New York locales on my author page. As I move into 2015 with a book out in April, I’ll be posting photos of South Carolina, the Lowcountry, and Charleston more frequently, since that area of the U.S. is the setting for my new book, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor.

I also like to post funny things I find online that might be of interest to readers, such as grammar puns, literary cartoons, and jokes about books.

I try to limit bald-faced promotion on Facebook and Twitter to one day a week, usually on Tuesdays, when I invite people to have a look at my blog post for the week. As a release date gets closer, I do have to do more outright promotion, so those posts become more frequent. The same is true for this blog. As you know, I often mention my books in my blog posts, but it’s almost always in connection with another point I’m trying to make. And as the release date nears, I point my blog readers to the places online where my new book is being featured. You are free to check out those sites, or you don’t have to. It’s completely up to you.

If readers aren’t on Facebook (and believe me, there are plenty of reasons not to be part of Facebook) or Twitter or they don’t follow my blog, they can always go to my website, where they can send me an email to contact me. They can also read more in-depth about my books and find music and wines that I suggest for a nice evening of reading.

Here are the links to the places you can find me online:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor
Website: http://www.amymreade.com
Twitter: @readeandwrite

Are there things you’d like to see on my author page, my blog, my website, or in my tweets? I’d love it if you’d share your thoughts with me.

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. If you’ve read Secrets of Hallstead House, would you consider leaving a review on Amazon, bn.com, or Goodreads? I never realized until I wrote my first book how important it is for readers to leave book reviews on these sites. Reviews help drive traffic to authors and businesses, and the reviews are very much appreciated. Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving

Last year at this time I made a list of the things I give thanks for all year ’round. I was going to make another list for this year when I re-read that old post and realized that nothing has changed, with one addition:

I am thankful for all the people who have read and enjoyed my first book, Secrets of Hallstead House, and for all those who have said they are excited to read my next book, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor. You people make me so happy, so thank you!!

So now that my list is updated for 2014, I’m going to share a different list with you.

Anyone who lives in my house knows that Christmas carols and Christmas movies are strictly forbidden until the day after Thanksgiving. This year has been a little different, though, since my daughters and I are singing at various local tree lighting ceremonies with a community choir group and the first one is before Thanksgiving. We have to practice, so I’m allowing an exception to the normal rules. We are allowed to listen to the practice cd.

But that’s it. No other Christmas music, no Christmas movies, period. Not until this Friday.

Once Friday comes, look out. I don’t want anything but Christmas playing until January 1st on any radio, any cd player, any electronic device, any television, any anything at my house. Having said that, here is the list of movies I’ll be watching starting November 28th. I’d list my favorite Christmas songs, too, but I only have so much time to write this post and the list is way too long.

1. The Bishop’s Wife. Please note that, while I have nothing against Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston, I will be watching the black-and-white version starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven. I was introduced to this movie many years ago by my aunt Jeanne and I watch it as often as I can during the holiday season.

2. White Christmas starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. The singing and dancing in this movie are enough to make any child want to grow up to perform in a lodge in Vermont.

3. Holiday Inn. Another Bing Crosby classic, he stars with Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds in the story about an inn that only opens on holidays. There’s music, comedy, love, and snow. What more could anyone want from a Christmas movie?

4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. With apologies to Jim Carrey, I just stick with the original animated version. I like it better than the feature film because I have all the lines memorized and I sing along with Thurl Ravenscroft.

5. A Christmas Carol. I will watch any version of this movie, but my favorite, for reasons I haven’t figured out yet, is the 1938 version starring Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, and Kathleen Lockhart. The acting can be a little over-the-top and corny, but I love it anyway.

6. It’s a Wonderful Life. There was a time when I refused to watch this movie because it was sooo depressing, but I’ve changed my mind and I watch it every year now. I’m glad my husband insisted on me watching it with him years ago, because it’s become an annual tradition.

7. Elf. Because it’s hilarious.

8-9. Home Alone and Home Alone II. You can never get enough Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. They make the two greatest bandits in the history of Christmas, with the exception of King Herod.

10. A Charlie Brown Christmas. I know there are a lot of people who don’t like the Charlie Brown movies, but I love the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas ones. My two favorite parts are when Linus recounts the Christmas story on stage and when the Peanuts gang is singing together at the end, mouths open and little noses pointed straight up to the sky.

I wish you all a very happy and safe Thanksgiving and a beautiful start to the holiday season.

Until next week,

Amy