Just Jump in and Fly — A Piece of My Heart

Today, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite holiday stories. It’s a fantasy/mystery/comic romance called “Just Jump in and Fly” which plays with a lot of the myths and legends around Christmas and Santa.

Blurb:

Samantha Wright has a problem. The attractive Kris Teague crash- landed his sleigh and eight not-so-tiny reindeer in her driveway. His uncle Nick happens to be THAT Nick – as in Claus – and they need Samantha Wright’s help to turn back the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse at one of the Universal Gates not only to save Christmas, but keep Earth turning. A fresh, romantic comedy turn on Yuletide myths and traditions!

I loved writing this, however many years ago it was, now, that I wrote it. I love revisiting it every year.

I love mixing traditional myths of the season and expanding them. I love adding the romantic elements. I loved using the myth of animals being able to talk on Christmas Eve.

With this piece, I wrote the comedy/fantasy/romance for the holidays that I always wanted to read.

Excerpt:

“Are you mad that I told Dad I had a stomach bug when I really didn’t, just so I could come home?”

“It would have been nice if you hadn’t waited until you were at the airport on Christmas Eve in the middle of a snowstorm. If they weren’t on a private plane, they’d never get out of here tonight. Driving to and from Logan on a lovely summer’s day is hardly my idea of a good time, but in this weather. . .”

“I was desperate.”

“I understand why you did it. In a perfect world, you could have told him you were uncomfortable and why and made arrangements, but in this case, yeah, I see why you did it. If you hadn’t said you were sick and grossed out Alyssa, he would have made you do whatever felt wrong so you’d learn to do his version of manning up. I don’t want this to become a pattern, faking illness to get out of doing stuff you don’t want to do, but in this case, I do understand, and I’ll let it go.”

“I promise it won’t be a habit, and I promise I won’t ever do it with you. I’ll just tell you when something bugs me.”

“Okay, we have a deal.”

“Hey, what’s happened at the foot of our driveway?” Liam leaned forward. “It looks like an accident.”

I pulled into the lip of the driveway to the red Colonial I’d bought in the summer. Snow was stacked up against the fence. In the snowbank was what looked like an overturned sleigh and a bunch of livestock. I pulled out my phone to call 9-1-1. Nothing. No signal.

“Are those reindeer?” Liam’s mouth dropped open.

“I’m not sure.” I got out of the car on my side. Liam got out on his side, and Simon shouldered his way over the seats and out of Liam’s door. As we got closer to the livestock, I saw they had antlers and large, liquid brown eyes. Some of the harnesses broke, and they stepped through the snow, the bells on the remaining strips jingling. None of them looked as though they were hurt, thank goodness.

I turned to Liam. “I think they are reindeer.”

“Cool,” Liam responded.

I wasn’t so sure it was cool. Yes, I had a barn. I even had a trio of rescued horses in it and supplies. I counted — eight — where the heck could I put EIGHT reindeer?

Eight. Reindeer. I was getting a really bad feeling about this.

***

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Fri. Aug. 30, 2019: How I Decided to Write SAVASANA AT SEA

image courtesy of skeeze via pixabay

First of all, hi! I’m glad you’re here. I created this blog to help walk a friend of mine through blog creation on WordPress. I don’t like the way this is set up, especially the way it’s spaced. I’m more comfortable with the templates that let me write and set it up the way I want..

In any case, since I have it, I thought I should utilize this tool to talk about the Nautical Namaste Mysteries and the other work that I create under the Ava Dunne name. The plan is to blog most Fridays.

Many of you know me as Devon Ellington, and read my Coventina Circle paranormal romantic suspense novels, my Gwen Finnegan Mysteries, the currently out-of-print Jain Lazarus urban fantasies (don’t worry, they’ll be back), and more. You read Ink in My Coffee, the almost-daily blog about the intersection of writing and life, and the other blogs that feed off that one.

So why another blog?

The Ava Dunne voice is a little different. It’s a little lighter, more comedic, more slanted toward romantic elements, although it wouldn’t be fair to romance readers to call them “romance.”

With the Nautical Namaste series, I wanted to write something that was closer to the cozy subgenre. Okay, I’ll be honest, I wanted to write a cozy. Only some of the expectations of the way the cozies evolved didn’t work for the story and the characters. The compromises I would have to make to keep it strictly within the cozy negated what I hoped to achieve with the book. I understand the expectations; I chose not to follow some of them. So this series is billed as “Not Quite Cozy.” I’ll do an entire post on how I strayed from the expectations of a typical cozy.

Most of you know that I spent the bulk of my career working professionally in the theatre, a good chunk of it on Broadway. As I worked my way up to Broadway, I worked in smaller venues, and I did whatever temp jobs I needed to in order to keep a roof over my head. I’ve worked in all kinds of company situations until I landed theatre work that paid enough to survive.

In the mid-1980’s, I lived in San Francisco for two years. There are tons of stories about my time there, but most of them aren’t relevant to the series. One of my favorite temp jobs in and around my theatre work was an eight-month stint in the office of a cruise line. I worked for one of the Vice Presidents, one of the few executives over the years with whom I worked that I liked, respected, and trusted. He was a decent, ethical, kind man.

My colleagues at the Cruise line were terrific. I absolutely adored them. Four of us had our desk together, and we had a blast. In fact, I dedicated SAVASANA AT SEA to Sonia, one of them. We’ve lost touch over the years, but I’ve never forgotten her.

There was a huge problem in the corporate whatevers during my tenure, and my boss, the kind, ethical man, was the fall guy. I was asked to stay on when he was fired. I refused, because I disagreed with why he’d been fired and the guy who replaced him was an A-1 asshole, not to mention way to “handy” with the women in the office. So I left.

But I was always interested in the idea of a mystery on a cruise ship. To me, it’s like a locked room mystery. You’re all stuck on a floating resort for the length of your cruise. Yes, you can do excursions, but plenty can happen.

When I was twelve, my mother and I took one of those tours that inspired the movie IF IT’S TUESDAY, THIS MUST BE BELGUIM. Even at twelve, I was aware of quite a few of the undercurrents and drama between members of the tour group. Part of the tour was a week-long cruise up the Rhine River. Which was both fun and weird.

Working in theatre, many of my colleagues spent eight-to-ten month contracts on cruise ships. I heard a LOT of stories. All kinds of stories. Some were funny; some, not so much.

image by garyskirrow via pixabay

I have a daily yoga and meditation practice. I take class at the studio whenever I can. I go to Kripalu when I can. Yoga has become a vital part of my life. It helps both physically and mentally.

One of the things that has frustrated me in all genres of books is the depictions of yoga instructors as flaky or unreliable or out there. They were treated as jokes, instead of trained professionals. Too often, the author who creates yoga instructor candidates is downright patronizing and the characters don’t work.

Most of the yoga instructors I know are among the smartest, most reliable, most compassionate, most together people I’ve ever come across. They don’t pretend to be perfect; they’d not afraid to admit flaws. They know our flaws make us human. They work WITH us so we can all be our best selves.

I wanted to write about that kind of instructor.

I wanted to write about a cruise ship.

So why not combine them? So I did. My protagonist, Sophie Batchelder, is kind and smart and funny and determined to stay true to herself. Because she’s all of those things, her fiance breaks up with her – she’s a detriment to his career. As her housemate Bianca tells her, people underestimate her because she’s kind, and mistake kindness for weakeness.

Sophie’s not weak. She’s strong and smart and funny and flawed.

Once she started telling me her story, how could I resist?

Next Friday, I’ll tell you how I built the ensemble around her.

If you’d like to read more about The Nautical Namaste series, you can hop on over to the website here. You can read excerpts from the book (and even buy it, that would be great) here.