Deck the Halls for 2019

Back when I was in grad school (VCFA), each new class had the assignment of choosing a class name. Usually these names had something to do with books or writing. My class chose the Secret Gardeners based on the book The Secret Garden.

With that being said, this is the second of two holiday season book giveaways (the first described in this post), this time featuring three more awesome Secret Gardener classmates: Laurie Morrison, Laura Sibson, and Nicole Valentine, all of whom stopped by for a brief chat today. Though they appeared on the blog here, here, and here to discuss their novels, and copies were given away before, another copy of each book will be given away this time. ’Tis the season!




Click here for the synopsis for Up for Air.
Click here for the synopsis for The Art of Breaking Things.
Click here for the synopsis for A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity.

El Space: What’s the best Christmas gift you received when you were a kid? Why was it special for you?

Laurie: The best Christmas gift I ever got was kittens! When I was eight or nine, my parents brought home two tiny, adorable kittens. My brothers and I were completely surprised. We had no idea our parents were even considering getting pets even though we had asked. We loved figuring out names for them—we went with Christmas and Mistletoe and called them Chrissy and Missy for short—and holding them. One of them disappeared on Christmas Day, and it turned out she was hiding in a tiny space between a piece of furniture and the wall. So that was an adventure! But it was just such a joy to have such a surprise and to feel grown up and responsible as I helped take care of them.

Laura: I have a photo from my sixth Christmas. In it, I am seated on a brand new bike while wearing a fancy bathrobe fit for a princess. I also have a huge grin on my face. This Christmas photo perfectly captures the two sides of me—the girl excited for her first two-wheel bike and the girl who daydreamed about magic and medieval kingdoms.

Nicole: I couldn’t tell you how old I was, but there was one Christmas where my best friend and I thought it would be excellent fun to sneak around our houses and find the hidden presents before the big day. And it was fun! It was the closest thing to a real live treasure hunt a kid could have in 1980-something. However, it soon became painfully obvious to us both that when Christmas morning came we wouldn’t be surprised. I stayed silent and told my parents nothing, but with each passing day I became more disappointed in myself. And then, on Christmas morning there was one extra present under the tree that I had not seen before. It was a small child’s sewing kit and it wasn’t something that I had even asked for, but right then it seemed like the greatest gift in the whole world. The tag said To Nicole, Love Santa in some very familiar cursive handwriting. I still don’t know if my mother saw the telltale signs of our snooping, but I am forever thankful for that sewing kit.

Thank you, Laurie, Laura, and Nicole for stopping by!

What’s the best gift (holiday or otherwise) you received when you were a kid? Comment below to be entered in the drawing. There will be three winners for this giveaway. Each winner will receive one of the above books. Winners of both giveaways to be announced on December 20, 2019.

Henry is pleased with his tree decorating. But the snowman, who is a stickler for correct spelling, thinks an adjustment needs to be made.

Christmas giveaway image from thefrontporchgourmet. Author photos and covers courtesy of the authors. The Secret Garden cover from Goodreads. Fairy tale castle from clipartpanda. Kittens from the SF SPCA. Sewing kit from dreamstime. Other photo by L. Marie.

21 thoughts on “Deck the Halls for 2019

  1. Thanks for sharing your favorite gifts, Nicole and Laurie. I remember sneaking around the house peeking for gifts. My mother was always good at hiding them, so my sister and I never seemed to find many. One of my favorite gifts was a red bean bag chair. LOL! I’m aging myself. Enjoy the holidays, ladies!

  2. You gotta love a college class that chooses a name based on the secret garden.

    My best Christmas gift as a child was a car “bike” painted maroon and white. I have a photo sitting on it dressed in a cute coat and hat.

    The other authors are new to me, but Laura’s book/face look familiar because I printed out a promotion she had done for her book. Maybe I’ll win it

    Merry Christmas, L. Marie. You practice the generosity of this holiday all year long. ((( )))

    • Thank you, Marian. Hope you have a lovely Christmas! So glad Laura is familiar to you. I’m glad to introduce you to Laurie and Nicole!

      I wish I had more photos of Christmas during my childhood. Alas, I don’t have many old photos. So glad you had your photos.

  3. So that’s where ‘secret gardeners’ comes from!
    I love(d) The Secret Garden as a child and as a teen and as an adult…one of the original magical places on earth IMHO. And that old movie? Black and white to color transformation film technique? Very effective even now in the 21st century. At least I think so!
    BTW: my bean bag chair was RED. And I got it the Christmas I was a Freshman in College.

  4. I received some great arts and crafts kits as a kid (beading, decoupage, painting, sketching, etc.), plus books. And record albums, books, and guitar music as a teen.

  5. Thank you so much, Linda, for your never-ending support of not only your Secret Gardener classmates, but all of your VCFA classmates and the broader writing community too! You are a gift to us 🙂

  6. Love this interview! Thank you Linda, Laurie, Laura, and Nicole! My favorite gift was a bicycle because I could get places I wanted to go a lot faster. Like the bookstore near my house, a ten-minute walk but a two minute ride.

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