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Chapter one of Unwrapped!

It’s missing a comma here and there, but without further ado, chapter one for you all as a reminder of where things left off and hints on what’s to come. Thanks for reading!

 

Chapter 1

A long list of troubles

Sandra’s list of troubles was a mile long.

“It is not a “mile long,” Cappie, her treasured guardian who had raised her after her parents were lost at sea, admonished. “It really only has three things on it.”

“Well, they are really big things, Cappie, with loads of little things under them which leads to it feeling like it’s a mile long. Maybe two miles long.” Sandra added the last part with a bit of defiance. At the moment, she didn’t like having her troubles downplayed.

Cappie just sighed at her. “Let me hear them again then.”

Sandra plopped in a seat at the table in the galley on the Mistletoe and began to recite her list using her fingers for drama.

“First, of course, is Jason. We’ve been looking for him for more than a month. And not just us. Every single fairy in the seen world and the unseen world has been instructed to find him and, so far, not a single real clue has turned up.”

“. . .squawk! . . . tired of Jason . . . squawk! . . . heart breaker . . .”

“Squawk!” Sandra said to her talking parrot. “You can be naughty sometimes and I’d still come look for you if you were missing.”

Squawk flew out the door to perch on the tugs rail in protest of her calling him “naughty.” Of course she’d look for him, he thought, but squawked out nothing. It was a totally different matter. He was insulted she had compared the two. He hadn’t liked Jason when he was Sandra’s boyfriend and started taking up all her time and he really didn’t like him after he broke her heart by breaking up with her. Now that he was missing and taking up all their time for fun thinking about where he might be, Squawk was really, really, not liking him. Not to mention, it seemed Jason was the king of fairies and Squawk, like many, did not care for fairies.

“Yes,” Cappie was saying. “Jason is a huge concern. But not your concern alone as you have pointed out. His mother is actually in charge of that search and you need to let her be the lead.”

Christina Annalise was the headmistress of St. Annalise Academy on the island of St. Annalise that Sandra and Cappie called home. Jason was Christina’s adopted son and had not told even her what route he was going when he had left to join the fairy realm to learn more about who he really was and what it meant to be the apparent king of fairies. No one had heard from him in months. Both Christina and Sandra had assumed it was because he was busy with his new role and had chosen to break, at least for a while, from his life with all of them. While it seemed outrageously rude, to both of them, not to write or call, it wasn’t out of Jason’s character and definitely not out of the character of a fairy. Generally speaking, Shan fairies, the ruling party and haughtier side of the fairy realm, felt no need to keep anyone apprised of any of their comings and goings. Most beings that were not fairies were simply beneath them.

“I’m so worried about him, Cap. I can’t have him be gone in the same kind of way mom and dad were gone. One minute they’re there and the next they just aren’t and no one has ever been able to figure out what happened. That’s how it’s going with Jason and that’s hard.”

“Oh, sweetheart,” Cappie said, pulling her beautiful Santa girl over and hugging her. “I understand. I just hate to see you so troubled. What else is on the list?”

“Gunny, of course,” Sandra said, standing up and pacing again. “The fairies are still refusing to give him up until they know where Jason is which is absolutely ridiculous since not only did Jason break up with me, he didn’t even want me to know where he was going. So, obviously, I’m not the one hiding him.” Her voice got loud with frustration. She was beyond annoyed that the Supreme Esteemed Fairy Council refused to release Gunny still. Santa had thought he had successfully negotiated his release a couple of times but it fell through for no valid reason both times.

Sandra missed him. Gunny was not the easiest person in her life but he was one of the most important. Their relationship had been complicated from the start. They met competing to be South Pole Santa and when she was selected over him, Gunny had, at first, rebelled. To put it more accurately, he had sulked. Then he had Santanapped her last year which had not endeared him to her at all. It had taken a lot of effort, but their fragile relationship had seemed on the cusp of something more than friendship when the fairies had whisked him away, and held him for ransom, in exchange for Jason.

Sandra missed them both which was a complicated mess all on its own.

“Third big item,” she said out loud to help dismiss that uncomfortable topic in her head. “I have twelve very kind children whose names have been drawn from nearly a million entries. A million Cappie!” She repeated that last part because she still could not begin to believe it. Kind acts were washing over the world thanks to her request for children to help her perform random acts of kindness – RAKS as they were often known as — and then send in what they had done. From those lists of kindnesses, twelve children were going to get to visit the North Pole and she had ideas brewing in her head for making it even bigger in the future.

“I know they will like getting to meet the elves and Santa but I just want to make sure it is an extra special time for them.”

“Sandra, really. That is hardly worth worrying on since no children have ever been so lucky and these children are nice to begin with! Of course they are going to love it – even if they do nothing at all.”

Sandra just frowned at her. She knew she had time to figure it out since she wasn’t planning on them visiting until later in the year but she loved to plan early and it was really important to her that it be “just right.”

“What is item number four?” Cappie asked a little too sweetly suspecting there wasn’t more than three items on Sandra’s “mile long list.”

“Four is that no real progress has been made now for months on getting the South Pole Village barge finished. Not through the Christmas season, of course, and not since Gunny has been gone. Spencer and Birdie and even Crow once in a while have been trying to help with it but they just aren’t the same as having Gunny managing it all. Cappie, they put up two walls in the wrong place! How is that even possible?”

“Walls can come down,” Cappie assuringly said. The South Pole Village barge was Sandra’s new love. She had always lived on the Mistletoe and loved it, and always would love it, but her new responsibilities as South Pole Santa meant she would need to leave the Mistletoe for a new home in her new role. Working with Gunny, they had figured out that a large barge could be built to duplicate North Pole Village. It could be towed by the Mistletoe all around the seas if necessary and that would be South Pole Santa’s new home. She loved the most that the barge, dubbed South Pole Village, meant she could work from anywhere and still be South Pole Santa. Spencer and Birdie, her very best friends, had been trying to keep some work on the barge happening without Gunny, and using Gunny’s brother Crow, but none of them really understood construction.

“Okay, any items past those four?” Cappie asked politely.

Sandra looked at her and flashed her first smile since they had started their chat. Talking things out with Cappie always made her feel better. “Not really. Just stuff. Okay, the list isn’t a mile long.”

“Ahoy!” a voice called out from the deck and Cappie leapt up, smiling. She knew the voice of their neighbor, long-time friend and now Cappie’s official boyfriend, well. Thomas Jackson, had his arm around Cappie by the time Sandra joined them on deck. Despite his show of affection for Cappie, he was clearly there for Sandra, this visit, as he looked directly at her.

“There’s news,” he said. “Rio has found us a way in.”

 

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

Some Really Great Things

Hey Hey Hey out there in kindness land. It’s Friday! The wonderful day of the week where work cares can fall away for a bit and family, friends and fun can move forward!

I have some quick things to share this beautiful gray Friday in August – a total treat after all the hot days we’ve been having here:

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Check out the fun prize package lucky Rhonda received today! Winner winner cocoa and candy canes for dinner! I loved getting to award this to such a nice person that played along every day in the Joy in July photo fun.

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These three. Be still my heart. Once again, I bring you Savanna and Desmond, my little’s in our family, along with a dear family friends daughter, Kinslei. Are we talking cute or what?! This was at Savi’s sixth birthday party. She is into peacocks presently so it was a “birdday” party. Love it!

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This is a recent sunset off my deck! Hard to beat anywhere I think. This time of year we really get some incredible last light moments. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the Northern Light elves had a hand in this. :)

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Did you know I now have my own line of South Pole Santa wines out? Okay, not really but I sure think this is a good start! I received this wonderful bottle of fun from a friend who obviously loves me and Sandra to do such a nice thing.

Sooooooo many good things happening in my life of late. I hope yours is the same. Up next on the blog is that chapter from Unwrapped, book four, that I promised!

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

A cheery line-up

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I’m not sure where July went but would the person who stole the last few days of the month, please return them immediately! My mind is having a hard time wrapping around the idea that they are gone and this is August. No way!

August got off with a bang at our place though with a super spectacularly fun party with friends we call family. Such joy comes in being together with people you know and love and who you know loves you in return. IMG_6510

I think there’s some special moments in this book that are about those same kinds of feelings that I’m hoping you all will enjoy. I’m on my third edit through the book and it heads off for my editor this week so things are clipping right along. (Hooray!)

Meanwhile, I thought I’d share a photo of my ever-changing mantle with you all today. I have it covered presently with my fine collection of uplifting words and sayings. It’s a little bit eclectic but I like the positive vibe it gives the house. Makes everything a little more uptempo. :)

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

Book Four Title!

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Its summertime and the living is, well, not easy as much as it is busy! Either way, it gets away from me and I had to pop over here and catch you up on the new title for the book.

Unwrapped!

What do you think?

I’m pretty darn excited about it. It was, as you recall, Inside Out & Upside Down and I loved that as a title too. In a lot of ways, it really was the most perfect title. Unfortunately though, it really doesn’t have a flavor of Christmas like the others and then Disney came out with that smash hit movie Inside Out and it seemed I needed to move on. So I did.

A brainstorming session was in order over cocktails and appetizers and some more cocktails :) and during that, my brilliant book coach, Brie Vennard is the one who thought up this excellent new title.

I liked it immediately. So many things are unraveled – unwrapped – a mess – chaotic – in this book that Unwrapped seemed just perfect right away. Plus, it’s short, visual and definitely has a Christmas feel to it.

Hooray!

And, double hooray! I have book four done!

Or at least the first and second drafts. It came out right under 72,000 words and I’m pretty excited about it. I’ll admit to being a little nervous too since its somewhat a departure from the other three in its adventuring, but I’m hoping you all will enjoy the twists and turns and inside out nature of it too. We spend a bunch of time in middle earth this book which is certainly a twist from your everyday Christmas tale.

But then, you already know the South Pole Santa series is many things but a retelling of the normal everyday Santa tale it is not! I like it that way. And there is a really wonderful thing that happens this book too that makes my heart happy.

Can’t wait till you all get to know about it all too! We’re getting close to it all getting . . . Unwrapped!

Thanks for being wonderful! Shine your light!

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

 

Recent Days!

Have you been getting in on the fun for Joy in July? We’re having 31 days of  magical fun over on the facebook page, on Instagram and on Twitter. Get in on it for your chance at a super fun prize – or just some super fun. Here’s the most recent days:

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Your favorite mug!

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A saying/quote you like!

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A pair of shoes – nice, loved or beat up! Your choice!

There’s more! Check em out! #joyinjuly #31daysofmagic #jinglebellejackson

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

Days 12 & 13

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We’ve been having fun over on the JingleBelle Jackson page on Facebook with the daily photo challenge! I would love for you to get in on the fun and the chance to win a giveaway worth over $200 smackers! C’mon C’mon, its so super easy. Today is pics of something, anything, green and tomorrow is clouds. Easy peasy super squeezy!

Oh Oh Oh! jingle

Try Something New!

 

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That’s me there with the big helmet, flashing a smile on an atv. For those like me who may not know, that stands for all-terrain vehicle. Four-wheel drive fun!!

So there we were in Hawaii hitting the beach, soaking in the sun — working on the book — and it just seemed like something was missing. We didn’t want another tour, we didn’t want to “learn” anything like going through a museum. We wanted fun. And then the concierge mentioned atv rides on the other side of the island and we said “tell us more.” It sounded like fun but were we really atv kind of people? We decided we’d find out.

Turns out – we are!

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What. A. Blast!!!!

ATVing is now my new very favorite thing to do. We might have started with the top of the ladder atv experience by going in such a beautiful place. We went through bumpy roads, muddy trails, tall grass, jungle areas where you had to drive and duck and big stretches where the view was so awesome you just wanted to pull over. I loved every fast flying minute of it.

So c’mon, what have you tried new and fun lately? You gotta stretch sometimes to find out something you might have been born to do! :)

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

 

Day 7 & 8 of fun!

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Wonderful woofers is what we are on the lookout for today for our #31daysofmagic #joyinjuly fun! This guy has left us now but he gave us years of love and joy. What a privilege it was to have him for ours.

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And for day 8 it is is fruit time! Any fruit you want but since I have the fabulous good fortune of being in tropical paradise right now, I’m going with the international sign of welcome — a box of pineapples!

Would love to have you play along! Someone is going to win a really fun prize! :)

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

A Sign!

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For those of you who follow along on my writing journey you know it tends to include some journeying. :) I write in blocks of time rather than everyday like most writers and I have made it my mission to do those blocks in inspiring places. Orcas Island near us is my favorite spot actually but you can’t beat a tropical island either so here I am in beautiful Honolulu this week. Lucky lucky me!

It is truly paradise over here in Hawaii with the sun and the surf and the laid back attitude there’s no doubt. I love it all. But I truly do come on over here to write and I am so completely jazzed to say yesterday I finished the first draft on book four!!! WoooHoooo! It is always such a relief.

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To be honest though, just a few days ago when we first arrived I was struggling. I was doubting myself big time and really wondering if I should even finish. I get those moments and they can be tough to work through – especially when the sun and the surf is calling. And then it was my birthday and we took the day off and I just decided to let it go for the day completely and ask for a sign on whether to keep going.

And I got one. That one up above.

Boom. First stop we hit was the Dole Plantation. We are strolling around in the gardens and there was this sign. Literally a sign. And when I looked closer at it the North Pole was on it and Antarctica! Now that is a sign.

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I needed it. As silly as it may seem it can be the little things some days.

How I love how special the world can be when we’re paying attention. Draft one, book four is now done! Draft two of edits is nearly done! And, get ready, cause it has a new name too. :) So much inspiration happening left and right in paradise.

Aloha! Mahalo to you all!

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

P.S. Did you know Hawaiian and Elfin languages are very similar? Neither one has the letter “r” for instance and both use lots of vowels. You can find elfin words under the extra tab above. Alobanaba! :)

Day 5 & 6

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Well y’all, day four was the easiest of all and I got the least number of pics posted! On my birthday no less! What is up with that? Maybe everyone was out pursuing their happiness on the 4th? Well then, hooray!

So day 5 is here and I’m posting ahead for day 6 so you don’t miss out on any of the fun. I would love for you all to play along!

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So for day 5 it is pic of bicycles or motorcycles. Let’s see why you’ve got! And for day 6 we are talking stacks of books. Or just one or two books if you prefer. or a bookshelf. I’m not picky. :) It might be my favorite challenge of the whole month. I certainly have stacks all around the house. Here’s my stack of books I hope to read this summer. Ha! I always have such grand plans to squeeze in such little bits of time.

Hope you are staying cool wherever you are! Here in “Hot”olulu we’re having record breaking temps for this time of year in the 90s. Thank goodness for water and trade-winds!

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle