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Archive for December, 2009

To start of the New Year I am as they say in the North of England, “Chuffed to little meat balls” to be hosting a YA RADIO MONTH.

Throughout January on my blog radio show “A Book and a Chat” (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Across-the-Pond on I will be hosting writers and bloggers of Young Adult Literature.

After realizing that I already had several YA Bloggers booked to appear on the show in January I thought “Why not make the whole month dedicated to YA Literature?”.

I contacted several of the top YA Bloggers asking them for their top YA Authors in 2009. Not counting Julia Holban who will be making a return appearance in March, I then contacted about 10 of these writers. I am so pleased to say that every writer who returned my email was only too willing to appear on the show.

The first of these shows is on Saturday when Rhonda Stapleton author of “Stupid Cupid” will be my guest

Any way here are the full details for the month

YA RADIO MONTH

Location: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Across-the-Pond

(Listen to the show or else if you want to talk to the guest dial in on 347- 237-5398)

[Times are EST shows are 30mins unless marked]


Jan 2nd – 11:00am Rhonda Stapleton (Stupid Cupid) 1hr

Jan 5th – 7:00pm Bree Despain (The Dark Divine) 1hr

Jan 7th – 6:30pm Tirzah – “Compulsive Reader Blog”

Jan 9th – 11:00am Michelle Zink (Prophecy of the Sisters) 1hr

Jan 12th – 6:30pm Kristi – “The Story Siren Blog”

Jan 14th – 6:30pm Alyssa – “Shayglade Blog”

Jan 16th – 11:00am Sarah MacLean (The Season) 1hr

Jan 18th – 6:30pm Kyle – “Goodreads”

Jan 19th – 6:30pm Jessica – “Chick Lit Teens Blog”

Jan 21st – 6:30pm Sharon – “Sharon Loves Books & Cats”

Jan 23rd – 11:00am Heidi R Kling (Sea) 1hr

Jan 26th – 7pm Carol Lynch Williams (The Chosen One) 1hr

Jan 28th – 6:30pm The Cindy Loves Books Show

Jan 30th – 11:00am Lisa Schroedar (Chasing Brooklyn) 1hr

Check out http://abookandachat.blogspot.com

Barry Eva (Storyheart)

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Almost the end of 2009, and I am facing it with very mixed feelings. It has been a year when family issues, medical issues and work issues have overwhelmed the literature, radio and friendship aspects of the past 365 days.

From the very start of the year leading up to my major back surgery until today when my youngest son was back in hospital, there has hardly been a day go by when one of the family was not sick or at the dentist, doctors, doing physiotherapist or at the chiropractor.

So let’s forget about that part, let’s look at the good aspects of 2009.

What has 107, 101, 2 and 24 to do with 2009?

“107” that is the total reviews my book “Across the Pond” has received at Amazon since it first came out. I am so totally overwhelmed with the words of support, encouragement and the fact that so many people have enjoyed the book. As many writer guest on my radio show have stated, receiving reviews or an email knowing that a reader has enjoyed your work, makes it all worthwhile!

“101” is the total number of “A Book and a Chat” radio shows I have presented this year. I have had so much fun doing the shows, learnt much and made some great friends. Over the year I’ve had guests from central Europe, Australia and England as well as Canada and the US. I’ve had calls from guests parked on the side of roads, half way up hillsides, in restaurants and in the middle of forests. I can honestly say through all the time, I have enjoyed myself and from the feedback and the requests for return visits so have the people so have my guests.

“2” is the number of top ten books for 2009 that “Across the Pond” has appeared on during December, I am so shocked. As anybody knows who has listened to me chatting on the radio either as a host or a guest, I don’t class myself as a writer, I am know literary genius, just a humble story teller.

Locations of top ten mentions:

http://www.pussreboots.pair.com/blog/2009/comments_12/ten_best_arcs_of_2009.html

http://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/give-the-gift-of-reading-this-holiday-season

“24” is a number I’m not quite so proud of. It the meager number of chapters I have managed to write for the follow up to “Across the Pond” a book called “Across the Pond and Back Again”. This would be even less if it was not for the support, encouragement and almost bullying (I need it) I have received from a couple of readers whom I am now proud to call friends. Finally though I seem to be getting back into the stride of things and home to get the book written over the next few months.

My final blog of 2009 tomorrow I’ll be sharing with you all an event I will be running through January, that is my YA RADIO MONTH.

So check out tomorrows blog.

Barry Eva (Storyheart)

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So finally we reach this years ” Christmas Story” I hope you all enjoy it.

The night was hot and steamy, too hot, too sticky and too not like Christmas for the soldier that lay trying to get some rest before going on duty, in the non air-conditioned barracks room.

Last Christmas had been so special, a family sharing their Christmas joy, watching children open presents, seeing the happiness on their smiling faces. Sharing a stolen kiss under the mistletoe with the one you loved.

The day had been even more special knowing that at any moment the deployment would happen and you’d have to leave the ones you love and head for a land far away where sand replaced snow, and the nearest thing to Christmas decorations were the socks somebody had hung on a small cut-down palm tree that stood forlornly in the corner of the barracks room.

It was strange to realize that the first Christmas had taken place in a land much like the one they were now stationed in. Despite the dangers that confronted them every day the country still had its beauty. You could almost imagine seeing three camels following one of the stars that twinkled in the clear black sky, which could just be made out through the slit, blast protecting windows.

Sighing, the soldier picked up a magazine carelessly dropped by one of the platoon members, and started to read how many years before a war had been briefly stopped by Christmas.

On Christmas Eve in December 1914 one of the most unusual events in military history took place on the Western front. On the night of Dec. 24 the weather abruptly became cold, freezing the water and slush of the trenches in which the men bunkered. On the German side, soldiers began lighting candles. British sentries reported to commanding officers there seemed to be small lights raised on poles or bayonets.

Although these lanterns clearly illuminated German troops, making them vulnerable to being shot, the British held their fire. Even more amazing, British officers saw through their binoculars that some enemy troops were holding Christmas trees over their heads with lighted candles in their branches. The message was clear: Germans, who celebrated Christmas on the eve of Dec. 24, were extending holiday greetings to their enemies.

Within moments of that sighting, the British began hearing a few German soldiers singing the Christmas carol “Silent Night”. It was soon picked up all along the German line as other soldiers joined in harmonizing.

One by one, British and German soldiers began laying down their weapons to venture into no-man’s-land, a small patch of bombed-out earth between the two sides. So many soldiers on both sides ventured out that superior officers were prevented from objecting. There was an undeclared truce and peace had broken out.

That night, former enemy soldiers sat around a common campfire. They exchanged small gifts from their meager belongings – chocolate bars, buttons, badges and small tins of processed beef. Men who only hours earlier had been shooting to kill were now sharing Christmas festivities and showing each other family snapshots

The soldier put down the magazine, and lay back on the bed, still thinking of the previous Christmas, until an order barked into the barracks told that it was time for the night patrol.

Taking out a slightly tattered picture from their fatigues pocket, a small tear crept into the eye of the soldier. It showed a smiling husband and wife and two young children, gathered around a Christmas tree, the lights reflecting in the eyes of each member of the family.

Sighing once more, the soldier carefully pushed the photo back into their pocket, before reaching into a bag under their bed. Looking once more at the discarded magazine, they pulled out a dozen bars of chocolate and stuffed them into a side trouser pocket.

Corporal Fanning might be many thousands of miles away from her family, but as a mother, she may still be able to bring a brief smile and moment of happiness to some children in a war torn country this special time of year.

Click the microphone to hear the story narrated by the author


You can always read or share the story at:

http://4tendereheart.com/xmas2009.html

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
“Across the Pond”

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Today’s Christmas story is from 2008, the penultimate before I share my story from this year with there will be a narrated version has been added for those who like to listen rather than read.

CHRISTMAS DREAM (2008)

It had started like a distant rumble of thunder, which had grown into the roaring of a hundred jet engines. The trees, then the whole earth seemed to shake from the full force of the wind.

She had begged her husband to leave before the hurricane hit, to just save themselves. He had told her the wind would die down, the boarded house would be fine, and the water would soon go. That was before the roof began to peel off the top of the house, like a giant pealing back the skin of an orange. That was when the panic had set in. Looking back, several months later, the images of that night still sent shivers through her body. Like still photos sliding across her mind, the sound, the fear, the destruction all seemed so fresh. Hanging onto each other hoping this was not to be their last moment on earth.

They had been found many hours later in what was left of their home, still in the same position. Numb with shock and the impact of what had happened, the rescuers had taken them to an overnight shelter. That night rolled into days, and days into weeks.

Their whole world had gone, in just a few small hours there was nothing left of what once was their home and their future.

When she had eventually been allowed back to the broken timbers of the smashed building where they had planned their future together, it was like a giant hand had taken their lives and emptied them… there was nothing left.

After a few months, a family member had provided a caravan for them to live in.This was parked in what once was their driveway. Her husband’s workplace no longer existed, vanished in that terrible night. After some time, he had found work in another state, many miles away, leaving her to pick amongst the pieces of their lives and wait for whatever would happen next.

The alarm woke her from her sleep, she shuddered the cold creeping through the ill fitting windows of the mobile home. At least she had a roof over her head, more than many she thought, reaching for the kettle and hoping there was still water in the tank and she would not have to make the trip to fill the water container again.

Lighting the small gas ring she put on the kettle for a hot drink. Looking out the window she could not believe her eyes, it had snowed overnight, the ground was covered in a quilt of white.

A while later she sat sipping her coffee, wondering how her husband was getting on, hoping he might be able to make it home for Christmas. Christmas … some Christmas this was going to be.

After clearing up and making her bed… “No excuse for not caring” she had told herself when first they had moved into the caravan. She went outside to see if things looked any better under the curtain of white.

At least it hid what was left of their home, broken timbers, the scarred surfaces, all was now smooth and white. Something made her look down.

There in front of her was a set of prints in the snow. Too large for a cat, not that of a dog… sort of hoof like. She shrugged “Oh well good luck to them finding any food around here.”

Her mobile phone rang. It was her husband, her mood brightened at the sound of his voice. He had some great news, his company was going to rebuild the factory, and they wanted him to help work on the new design. He was coming home!

A silent prayer of thanks was said, he was coming home.

Throughout the rest of the morning she worked on what she could do to try and make this Christmas special for her and her husband. Despite everything, they would be together and that was a start. She was in the process of writing a list of items that she needed to try and purchase to turn their mobile accommodation, in a home when there was a knock at the door.

A man stood there, a smile on his face and an envelope offered towards her.

“I think this might cheer up your holiday plans” he said handing her the envelope.

She went inside and opened the envelope, it was a check, a very large check, the insurance had finally come through. Now, they could get on with their lives, rebuild their future.

She tried to contact her husband to let him know the good news, but could get no reply.

What a day, first her husband coming home, with a new job, now the insurance money.

Her hand brushed a small bell that lay on the table, something they had found amongst the rubble of their home. Christmas, yes, it was all part of Christmas, and this year she would make sure it would be one they would never forget.

She rang the bell again, and again, ring… ring.. ring…

She struggled through the tangled web of her dream, only to surface into reality. It had all been a dream, a wonderful dream, but just a dream all the same. She looked out the window, hoping to see the white covering of snow that had been there in her dream. But all she saw was the scarred debris of what had been left after the hurricane had hit.

Sighing she put on the kettle and opened the door to greet the day. Her eyes caught site of some prints in the mud in front of her, too large for a cat and not that of a dog, sort of hoof like.

It couldn’t be, could it? And her mobile phone rang.

Click the microphone to hear the story narrated by the author

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
“Across the Pond”

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To be the number one single in the UK charts has for Christmas has always been something very special. Christmas number one singles are those that are at the top of the UK Singles Chart on the week before Christmas Day. The official UK Singles Chart began in 1952, after appearing in the New Musical Express. The positions of all songs are based on week end sale totals, from Sunday to Saturday,but pre-1987 they were released on a Tuesday due to the need for manual calculation.

Having the UK Christmas number one is very prestigious and leads to a lot of media coverage. Since people are buying gifts for the Christmas period, single sales are extremely high in the week before Christmas, and since the Christmas number one is the single with the highest sales, record companies can make sizable profit from trying to get their single to Number One. Many members of the public place bets with a bookmaker’ on who will be Christmas number one.

This general excitement about being number one over Christmas seems to go back to the early 1970’s when when there was a huge battle between “Slades – Merry Xmas Everybody” and “Wizards – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” battled to the number one slot (Slade eventually one the battle).

Two years later Queen was number one over the holiday period with “Bohemian Rhapsody“, a record actually released in November with no Christmas theme, yet was number one over Christmas. It became a number all over again in 19991, Also as a matter of interest the first record video to appear on UK TV.

Over the years as well as many now classic records there have been a fair sprinkling of novelty number ones. Songs like “Two Little Boys – Ralph Harris, Ernie the fastest milkman in the west – Bennie Hill, Lilly the Pink – Scaffold, and even “Bob the Builder had a number one Christmas hit with “Can We Fix It”.

So what for 2009?

Over the last few years TV “talent” programs such as have affected the TV ratings, with the finals set to lead up to the holiday period and of course the winner bringing out their single in time to make it to number one for the period. This year the favorite for Christmas number one was expected to be X Factor winner Joe McElderry with his single “The Climb“.

Suddenly out of the west to battle for the number one spot has come Los Angeles rock band Rage Against The Machine’s single “Killing In The Name” Like any good throw back to the punk age, the band has already had their record faded and almost banned on the BBC when band singer Zack de la Rocha swore four times during their live performance of their song. (Shades of Johnny Rotten).

A Facebook group aiming to get Rage Against The Machine to number one has attracted hundreds of thousands of members. The groups guitarist Tom Morello said the internet campaign “tapped into the silent majority of the people in the UK who are tired of being spoon-fed one schmaltzy ballad after another”.

So who will be the Christmas number one in the UK this year and join so many classic songs? The “schmaltzy, TV show winner ballad” or some good old fashioned Punk Rock?

SO HOW MANY OF THESE CAN YOU REMEMBER?

1952 Al Martino “Here in My Heart”
1953 Frankie Laine “Answer Me”
1954 Winifred Atwell “Let’s Have Another Party”
1955 Dickie Valentine “Christmas Alphabet”
1956 Johnnie Ray “Just Walkin’ in the Rain”
1957 Harry Belafonte “Mary’s Boy Child”
1958 Conway Twitty “It’s Only Make Believe”
1959 Emile Ford & The Checkmates “What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?”
1960 Cliff Richard & The Shadows “I Love You”
1961 Danny Williams “Moon River”
1962 Elvis Presley “Return to Sender”
1963 The Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
1964 The Beatles “I Feel Fine”
1965 The Beatles “Day Tripper” / “We Can Work It Out”
1966 Tom Jones “Green Green Grass of Home”
1967 The Beatles “Hello, Goodbye”
1968 The Scaffold “Lily the Pink”
1969 Rolf Harris “Two Little Boys”
1970 Dave Edmunds “I Hear You Knocking”
1971 Benny Hill “Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)”
1972 Little Jimmy Osmond “Long Haired Lover From Liverpool”
1973 Slade “Merry Xmas Everybody”
1974 Mud “Lonely This Christmas”
1975 Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody”
1976 Johnny Mathis “When A Child Is Born (Soleado)”
1977 Wings “Mull of Kintyre” / “Girls’ School”
1978 Boney M “Mary’s Boy Child” / “Oh My Lord”
1979 Pink Floyd “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)”
1980 St Winifred’s School Choir “There’s No-one Quite Like Grandma”
1981 The Human League “Don’t You Want Me”
1982 Renée and Renato “Save Your Love”
1983 The Flying Pickets “Only You”
1984 Band Aid “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
1985 Shakin’ Stevens “Merry Christmas Everyone”
1986 Jackie Wilson “Reet Petite”
1987 Pet Shop Boys “Always on My Mind”
1988 Cliff Richard “Mistletoe and Wine”
1989 Band Aid II “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
1990 Cliff Richard “Saviour’s Day”
1991 Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody””
1992 Whitney Houston “I Will Always Love You”
1993 Mr Blobby “Mr Blobby”
1994 East 17 “Stay Another Day”
1995 Michael Jackson “Earth Song”
1996 Spice Girls “2 Become 1″
1997 Spice Girls “Too Much”
1998 Spice Girls “Goodbye”
1999 Westlife “I Have A Dream” / “Seasons in the Sun”
2000 Bob The Builder “Can We Fix It?”
2001 Robbie Williams & Nicole Kidman “Somethin’ Stupid”
2002 Girls Aloud “Sound of the Underground”
2003 Michael Andrews & Gary Jules “Mad World”
2004 Band Aid 20 “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
2005 Shayne Ward “That’s My Goal”
2006 Leona Lewis “A Moment Like This”
2007 Leon Jackson “When You Believe”
2008 Alexandra Burke “Hallelujah”

Barry Eva (Storyheart)

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For those of you who have not been reading my Christmas Story’s (normally on a Thursday) up to now, each year I write a special holiday story, and have done since 1999. I will share them each week until finally just before Christmas I will publish this seasons story.

Today’s is from 2007, and one of my own favourites a narrated version (will be added later) for those who like to listen rather than read.

SHADOWS ON THE WALL (2007)

He took the last photo frame from the wall, and added it to several others in a small box on the table. He looked around the room, then back at the box.

Was that it?

Three years of living with Jane, fitting into one small cardboard box, and a few shadows on the wall where the pictures had hung. His eyes wondered to a small dent in the wall near the kitchen door… No quite all!

He shook his hand remembering how in his rage he’d punched the wall.

It was three months ago, since that day he’d come home early to find the woman whom he had thought was the love of his life, in bed with a complete stranger. She had not even tried to disguise what she was doing, just laid there with a smirk on her face.

“Now you know.” Was all she’d said.

He’d turned and walked out, but not before hitting the wall so hard with his fist, he’d broken several bones in his hand.

After a night lost in various bars, he’d arrived home to find Jane gone.

Over the next few weeks several friends, or at least a people he’d thought as a being friends, had told him, that Jane had been “playing around” some time. Like a jigsaw puzzle, small items from the previous months had fallen into place, and he realized just what an idiot he’d been.

Weeks turned into months and the shops started to fill with the glittering sights and sounds that can only belong to Christmas. His house still remained empty, except for memories.

One night he was sitting in the chair sipping a drink, looking at the shadows left from where the pictures used to be.

Had he ever known love, true love?

His mind went back five years to the summer he’d spent in France after graduating from college. Yes he had known love, known it and lost it.

It had been a wonderful time, the cares of studying over, the pressure of a job not yet begun. Six months lazing about in the sun in the south of France. Then there had been Pascal.

He’d been sitting in a bar next to the beach when she’d walked in, the sun had been setting seemingly surrounding her with a red glow, that matched the copper tinge of her hair, making her look almost on fire. Like in all good romance movies there eyes had met across the crowded floor… But in his case, she’d looked at him, then turned and walked back out the bar.

That brief moment of eye contact had though, left a message written across his heart, setting him a challenge, which over the next couple weeks he’d taken up.

Ten days from the moment their eyes first met, they’d laid in each others arms, bodies, hearts and minds joined as one.

For the rest of the summer they had been together, until he’d had to leave, even then phone calls and emails had kept their romance alive.

Then one day she’d told him on the phone that she would not be contacting him any more, she did not give her reasons, and her last words of “I will always love you.” had just left him confused, as well as heart broken.

Yes he thought, his eyes once more straying to the shadows on the wall, he had known love.

His thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of the front door bell. When he opened the door, there stood a woman perhaps a little younger than him, with dark hair. She handed him a letter, written on the top envelope was his name.

“Please,” the woman said, with a slight hint of a French accent “you have to read the letter.”

He went to open the letter then noticed a small face peering from behind the woman, her curly red hair only half hidden by her hat. Something about her seemed familiar.

“Please,” he said opening the door, “come inside.”

He led the pair into the living room, where they sat while he opened the letter.

“Peter,” he read “if you receive this letter, I will no longer be with you. I have been very ill, and I know my time in this world is not much longer.”

He looked up at the woman, and noticed the dark rings under her eyes.

He read on.

“My love, I have never forgotten you, and saying goodbye to you over the phone like I did was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say.”

A shock of reality hit him. He looked up at the woman, his lips mouthing one word… “Pascal?”

The woman nodded.

“Oui… I mean yes she sadly passed away two weeks ago, but made me promise to bring you the letter before she died. I am Joelle, Pascal’s sister.” He could see the tears starting to swell in Joelle’s eyes. Not knowing what to say he want back to the letter.

“I had to say what I did, I know now perhaps it was wrong, but at the time, I did not want you to hate me.”

How could he ever have hated her?

“I was confused, embarrassed and scared.
Later I realized that I’d done was wrong and that you, of all people would have understood, but by then it was too late. The words had been said, the deed had been done. Peter, a few months after you left I found I was pregnant.”

The room seemed to spin, a myriad of emotions swept through him like a tidal wave. The rest of the words seemed to swim before his eyes until he got to the last line.

“Please don’t be mad at me, and remember I will always love you.”

He put down the letter his hands trembling, a thousand questions springing to his lips each remaining un-asked.

Joelle, ushered the small girl towards him, a package clasped in her hands.

“This,” she said, her eyes now filled with tears. “Is Pascal’s daughter, her name is Angela. She has a gift for you.”

“Me.r..r..y Christ..mas..” Angela said, her face breaking into a smile of pleasure that she had managed to say the words correctly.

“Thank you, Angela. Bonne Noelle to you” he said taking the package from the small hands, now noticing how much she looked like her mother.

The child gave him a small smile, her fingers just touching his for a moment.

Slowly he opened the package; there were two pictures, one of Pascal and one of Angela. Written on the bottom of Pascal’s picture were the words.
“To the Man I will always love.”
He looked up at Joelle a film of tears across his own eyes.

“She made me promise to bring you the pictures,” Joelle said, a small smile touching her lips.

She reached across and took the pictures from his shaking hands, moving across the room, she hung them over the shadows left by the images of a previous life.

“And every father should have a picture of their daughter on display…”

Click the microphone to hear the story narrated by the author

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
“Across the Pond”

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For those of you who have not been reading my Christmas Story’s (normally on a Thursday) up to now, each year I write a special holiday story, and have done since 1999. I will share them each week until finally just before Christmas I will publish this seasons story.

Today’s is from 2006, and includes a narrated version for those who like to listen rather than read.

THE FINAL STAR (2006)

She stopped what she was doing and took a step back, looking at her handy work. The tree sparkled with multi-colored lights reflecting on the numerous ornaments that dotted around the tree. It would do.

She had only decided to put the tree up at the last moment, for her this Christmas was an empty shell of what it had been in the past. Her only daughter was three thousand miles across a stormy ocean with her family. Sure she would get the phone call, or if she remembered how to get the thing to work, a web cam session on the computer. The computer was something her husband had bought them so they would be able to keep in contact with their daughter.

Last Christmas he had spent hours teaching her how to use the computer to enable them to see and talk to their daughter and their grandchildren. It was almost like he was showing her because he knew… he knew that the next Christmas, he would not be there to create the link.

Just four months previous, she had suddenly found herself alone. One morning he had simply just not woken up. She never imagined life without her husband, but over the last months it was something she’d had to deal with.

Now being Christmas it was even harder.

She wiped away a tear that had leaked from her eye, and took a final look at the tree.

There was only one thing missing, the final star.

Every Christmas, the star had always been the final item on the tree, placed there by the two of them, as if to underline that they were ready for Christmas. This year when she had unpacked the Christmas decorations, she’d found the star broken, like her heart.

She sat sipping her coffee, looking at the tree; it looked so empty without the star. Just like her life was without her husband.

Sitting on the table beside her sat a pile of cards. She just had not been able to open the festive greetings when so many had been addressed to Mr and Mrs Johnstone. Picking the first one from the pile, she opened it and read the words inside. It was too much. Tears she’d held back for months streamed down her face. She dropped the letter and buried her face in her hands.

Why had he been taken away from her? What did she have to celebrate this Christmas?

Leaving the pile of letters unopened, she made her way to a lonely bed to cry herself to sleep.

It seemed she had only just gone to sleep when loud knocking on the front door woke her up. She looked across at the clock through heavy red rimmed eyes. It was ten past ten, who would be calling at this time of the night. The knocking came again.

“Hold on, I’m coming.” She shouted pulling her dressing gown round her as she descended the stairs to the front door. A small face was pressed up against the glass. Carol singers, this late at night???

She opened the door and was nearly bowled over as two young children jumped at her, wrapping their arms around her.

“Merry Christmas Grandma.”
“Merry Christmas Mum” came the voice of her daughter Rosemary and her husband, as they moved into the light from the hallway.

“What…. How… Why didn’t you tell me…?”

Words were lost as fresh tears spilled down her face as her daughter hugged her close.

“Mum, we sent a letter. In the Christmas card? “

She looked back at the pile of cards, still unopened on the table.

Still in a state of shock, she led the family into the living room.

While her husband took the cases and the children up to the bedrooms, Rosemary sat with her Mom.

“You did know we were coming didn’t you Mom?”

“I did not get around… I could not…” tears once more. “Mom, we could not let you spend Christmas alone, or any other Christmas for that matter.”

“I don’t understand….”

“Mom… After Christmas, we’ll start planning for you to come back and stay with us.”

Further conversation was stopped by two children filled with the love of the excitement of the trip, the love of their grandmother and the joy of Christmas came running down the stairs.

“Grandma, Grandma” they both shouted. “We’ve brought you a special Christmas present. Dad says you can open it early.”

Eager little hands thrust a package at her.
“But… I can’t.”

Rosemary put her hand on her mother’s, as her husband came and stood behind the two children, eyes wide as saucers with excitement.

“Mom, please, the children bought this with their own money, it means a lot to them.”

Slowly she opened the package. Under the wrappings of tissue paper, she carefully removed a bright shining star.

Rosemary took the star, and with help from her husband placed it on the top of the Christmas tree.

Hugging her grandchildren to her, she looked at the star glittering at the top of tree. The final star was in place. Now she could celebrate Christmas.

Click the microphone to hear the story narrated by the author

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
“Across the Pond”

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Few Americans have any idea that there is even such a thing as Boxing Day, let alone why the holiday, which celebrated in places such as Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, is a statutory holiday.

Despite its name, Boxing Day, has nothing to do with pugilistic competition. Nor is it a day for people to return unwanted Christmas presents or clear the house of empty boxes.

It is traditionally held on December 26th, though this can vary between countries some celebrating following Monday if December 26 falls on a Saturday or Sunday. Boxing day became a celebrated holiday in the middle of the nineteenth century, under Queen Victoria.

There are several claims to the origin of Boxing Day all of which might be correct in some form or other.

Some historians say on the day after Christmas, members of the merchant class would give boxes containing food and fruit, clothing, and/or money to trades people and servants. The gifts were an expression of gratitude much like when people receive bonuses, from their employer, for a job well done, today. These gifts, given in boxes, gave the holiday its name, “Boxing Day”. This theory goes a far back as Anglo-Saxon times when seasonal gifts were given to slaves.

Another theory is that the boxes placed in churches where parishioners deposited coins for the poor were opened and the contents distributed on December 26, which is also the Feast of St. Stephen. One of the seven original deacons of the Christian Church, who were ordained by the Apostles to care for widows and the poor.

This is remarked about in the Christmas Carol, “Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen”, where gifts of “flesh (meat), wine and wood” are made to a poor man struggling through the snow.

Today, Boxing Day is spent with family and friends with lots of fun and food, more relaxed than Christmas day with all the rush to cook Christmas dinner etc.

Like “Black Friday” in the USA it is also a major shopping day allowing the spending of those gift cards, vouchers and money given to them for Christmas.

Boxing day is also one of the most important sporting days in England, it is traditional Soccer and Rugby traditionally matches to be played against local rivals. Something originally done to avoid teams and their fans having to travel a long distance to an away game on the day after Christmas Day.

Perhaps this association with sport on December 26th lead to the myth of Boxing Day is associated with boxing.

The day is also a major day in the horse racing calendar, with amongst many other race meetings the King George VI Chase at Kempton racecourse in Surrey, taking place, the second most prestigious chase in England, after the Cheltenham Gold Cup. People follow horses year after year during these Boxing Day events such as the famous gray horse “Desert Orchid” or “Dessie” as he was known who won the race four years running.

Many family’s watch the sport and racing on television, sharing friendly bets and eating cold meat and pickle sandwiches.

For myself like many other people in the UK and around the world, it is “fun” day of the Christmas holidays, a day to share with those close to you, without the hassle of Christmas Day.

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book

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Today’s Christmas Story is from 2005, and as requested have added a narrated version, so if you want to hear that just click the microphone at the end of the story.

Laura finished typing the last part of her report, sat back and looked around the office. Snow covered the pavements, and with Christmas being just around the corner, most of the people in her department had already left for the day. She would be here for a little while yet, Daniel her boyfriend worked nights as a ground technician for Air Canada. She preferred to let him sleep, rather than, by her arrival home wake him early. Staying late also enable her to start that bit later so she had a brief time with him in the morning at the end of his shift.

Her thoughts of Daniel were interrupted by the phone ringing. She picked it up, wondering who would be calling her at this time.

“Hey, girlfriend,” came the voice of her friend Patti, “Merry Christmas.”

“Same to you Patti.”

Patti always managed to bring a smile to Laura’s face, something she felt in need of at the moment.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of this call?”

“Oh you know me, dashing here and there all the time, and right now I’m there. Well not quite, but will be soon.”

“What are you talking about girl?”

“I’m on my way downtown, and wondered if you’d like to stop for a coffee with me before you head home?”

Sure sounds good to me.” Laura answered; glad to have a something to do before she headed home.

“I hear the coffee shop near you is doing a special coffee and snow or something. I think they are calling it “Christmas Coffee. Whatever I’m sure it’ll be worth a try.”

“Sounds interesting, I’ll meet you in what, twenty minutes?”

The other end of the phone went quiet.

“Patti, Patti, you there?”

“Oh yes, sorry, sure twenty minutes will be just fine.”

Laura put the phone down, and started to clear her desk. She was looking forward to a good girls chat with Patti.

Packing up her laptop, and checking her desk she headed out the door. Noticing the light still on in her manager’s office, she peeped in the door. “Goodnight Carolyn, I’m off now.”

“Night Laura, I’m wading through the month end figures so I’ll be here for a while yet.”

Laura caught the lift to the ground floor and wrapping her scarf round her headed into the snow covered night.

The lights sparkled from shops full of Christmas goodies, and she wondered just what Daniel might give her for a Christmas present, it was always hard for him to get to the shops. Not that she had really decided what to give him either, but then she was always a “last minute” shopper.

A small time later, Laura entered the warmth of the coffee shop and looked around for Patti, not able to see her, she was just about the leave when somebody touched her on the shoulder.

“Fancy meeting you here.” Came a voice she knew so well.
“Daniel!” she exclaimed turning into the arms of her boyfriend. “What are you doing awake, let alone here?”

“Oh,” Daniel casually remarked “I couldn’t sleep. Anyway I had a few errands to do, and thought I’d stop for one of the “Christmas Coffee’s that I’ve heard so much about.”

The couple sat at a table near the window, Laura’s hand automatically going to Daniel’s.

“I meant to meet Patti here,” Laura said, “I guess she’s been held up. Still, what a lovely surprise meeting you.”

Daniel leaned forward and kissed Laura softly. “How could I stay away from the woman I love.”

“Tell me that when you’re feeling half asleep at 5a.m.” Now go… get us two of these special Christmas Coffee’s.”

“Yes boss lady.” Daniel said giving a mock salute. “I love it when you’re dominant.”

Laura laughed and gave Denial’s rear, a friendly slap as he went to get the coffee’s.

She looked around, wondering where Patti might be.

Daniel returned with two cups of coffee, the whipped cream piled on the top, had silver sprinkles in it, so it almost looked like snow.

“So these are the Christmas Coffees,” Laura said taking a sip. “Hm not bad.”

Daniel wiped the cream from his lips caused by his first sip. “I like the snow,” he said “but I think it needs more ice.”

Laura looked a little puzzled. “More ice?”

Daniel fumbled in his pocket. “Yes,” he said “more ice like this.” He handed Laura a red box, which she carefully opened. There inside was a ring, not any ring, but an engagement ring.

She looked at Daniel her mouth half open in shock.

A smile flicked across Daniel’s lips. “I’m sorry love, this is all a little plot hatched between me and Patti, to get you here so I could ask you one question.”

Laura’s eyes filled with tears.

Daniel knelt down on one knee. “Will you marry me Laura?”

People at the nearby tables had stopped talking and were looking at the couple.

“Well?” said a lady sitting next to Laura. ”What’s your answer?”

Tears started slide down Laura’s cheek. “Oh yes Daniel, with all my heart, yes.”

A cheer went up as the couple kissed, sealing their engagement.

“About time!” Came a voice from behind Laura. Turning, she was greeted by not only Patti, but also Carolyn, and several of her friends from the office.

Laura turned back to Daniel, and slipped the ring onto her finger. “Some plot, fiancée of mine. Then she laughed, saying, “I think Christmas Coffee’s the best drink I’ve ever had.”

Click the microphone to hear the story narrated by the author

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book

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Tonight’s special guest on “A Book and a Chat” is author Cynthia Vespia, writer, author, weapons collector and self confessed chocoholic. Listen as she talks about her writing and her latest book the second part of the fantasy thriller Demon Hunter.

You can listen to the show or else download the mp3 file version at

http://ping.fm/g7tLE

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