What’s The B*E*S*T Christmas Gift You’ve Ever Received?

WSK Tour Button Final

Today, as part of the Winter’s Sweet Kiss blog tour, I asked the anthology authors this question:

What is the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

Here’s what they had to say . . .


Michelle Ziegler:


If I have to pick a thing, it was my kindle, duh.  But my husband was my best Christmas gift really. We had our first date on Christmas; he goes out of his way to make sure each Christmas is better than the last. Oh and he always makes sure to have gifts I can open early so that I don’t open the real gift until Christmas.  I am no good with surprises.


Shaya Roy:

Well, I’m not Christian, and in my family, we don’t really have a tradition of exchanging Christmas  presents. Although we do celebrate Christmas 🙂 The best presents I’ve ever received otherwise are – wait for it – books. So predictable, right? But seriously, if you introduce me to a new author who becomes my next favorite, I’ll love you forever. *cough*andmayhintatmorepresents*cough*


Lily Carlyle:

When I was growing up, we had only two Christmas albums (yes, albums!), both from Woolworth’s. To this day, the opening of Perry Como’s version of “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays” can make me feel like I’m six years old, with all the attendant anticipation and wonder. But my least favorite song on the album was Barbra Streisand’s “The Best Gift.” A slow ballad celebrating the birth of a child, its beauty was lost on me.


Thirty years later, I was pregnant with my second child, due on December 26. To everyone’s relief, she arrived early—on December 21. Anna, my little Winter Solstice Baby (as I started calling her when she told her preschool teacher that she was a Christmas baby and must, therefore, be Jesus) with her dark hair, dark eyes, and smooshed nose and left ear, was undoubtedly the most beautiful, best gift I’ve ever received.



The Laura Ingles Wilder Little House on the Prairie gift set when I was 7. A gift from my grandmother, these books started my love affair with reading – and dreaming of time travel.



In December 2003, I was six months pregnant with my first child. We’d just bought a house and were looking forward to our first Christmas in our own home. But in the first week of December, at 25 week pregnant, I went into labor. I had no idea I was in labor and went to the ER thinking I had a kidney stone. Alas, with contractions two minutes apart, they pumped me full of drugs and kept me overnight. I spent the rest of the month confined to my couch, on several medications, doing everything in my power to keep my little boy cooking in my belly. When Christmas day came, I unwrapped my gifts from my husband and my family, watched from the couch as my mother cooked us a Christmas dinner, and celebrated the fact that I had managed to stay out of the hospital. As anticlimactic as it seems, the best gift I ever received was my son NOT being born on Christmas day.


And now, a little bit about Winter’s Sweet Kiss:

Blurb: When Wayne Edwards moves to town, Lillian Douglas experiences stirrings she thought were long dead. Guilt ridden over betraying her deceased husband and the feelings Wayne inspires, Lillian reluctantly lets him in. Secrets of the past – an old promise emerges, but will it threaten their forever?

MELT By Shaya Roy

Blurb: Newlyweds in an arranged marriage, Naina and Dev go to the mountains of Shimla, India in search of snow. Unfortunately, they find fifteen inches more than they expected.
Being snowed in with her husband is not necessarily a bad thing. It gives Naina an excellent excuse to snuggle up to her deep, quiet man, but every time Dev spurns her, a little more of her heart drips away. Melting the ice around her husband’s heart before the snow outside does might take more pride than Naina’s ready to surrender.


Blurb: Angela is in love with someone she can never have–her best friend, Rebecca’s older brother.

Stranded in the bitter cold after a disastrous blind date with yet another company Christmas party looming, a standing offer from the boss’ nephew gets a little more appealing. Desperation. Not a good sign. Surely when Rebecca rescues her from the blinding snow, she can also convince Angela to just go to the party alone. She can always count on her best friend.

That is, as long as she never finds out about Angela’s secret crush.



Blurb: Stella’s got everything she needs in life: a great job, a beautiful house, and her independence. But on last minute trip to the local Christmas tree lot she finds something, or rather someone, she desperately wants – Grayson. An emergency trip to Target, an unexpected wreath, and a little Christmas magic make the season much brighter.


SANTA BEBE By Lily Carlyle

Blurb: Disillusioned by men and her belief that they see her only as an object, Bebe is determined to find a man with money. Her geeky, but unfailingly kind, next-door neighbor James tries to convince her of the possibility of real love, even as she reveals to him the troubled childhood that made her so cynical about relationships. When her mother dashes her hopes for a perfect Christmas, Bebe finds herself turning to James once again, and in the process, learning a lot about herself and the promise their relationship holds.


Rafflecopter Link for Group Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card & paperback copy of Winter’s Sweet Kiss

Purchase Links:

Amazon (Print) Amazon (Kindle Copy)
Createspace (Print Only)

*Now it’s your turn to tell me: What’s the best present you ever received?! In case I don’t blog again before next Wednesday, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The 12 Books of Christmas! Holiday Buyers Guide for YA Book Lovers!


holiday pic

My two favorite young people

Sometime during the Christmas season, you’ll probably be shopping for a young adult in your life (or if you’re like my husband, shopping for your wife who still acts like a young adult). You might be scratching your head at what to get someone between the ages of 13-19, but have no fear, Jamie is here! I scanned my Goodreads log and picked out 12 YA books I read across the genres this year, ones that I would for sure recommend to anyone age 13 and up!

On the 12th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . A Fractured Fairy Tale.

Alice in Zombieland and Through the Zombie Glass

This is a great modern-day twist on a beloved story! You can’t buy one without buying the other because you’ll want to read the sequel right away!

On the 11th, 10th, and 9th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Historical Fiction.

A few picks on this one:

The Book Thief (World War II-era story . . . yeah, you’ve heard the story, but not from Death’s POV)

The Red Umbrella (Cuban politics and history . . . I know it sounds boring, but it’s totally not! EVERYONE should read this!)

The Infernal Devices (England during the Victorian era–this is an admixture of the real history and the unreal since it features paranormal elements. This trilogy is a prequel to The Mortal Instruments books, which if you didn’t read, you might’ve seen the movie this year!)

On the 8th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Paranormal Romance.

Ever and Evade are another two-for-one deal in the same series. Get your pot of coffee ready when reading this one because you’ll want to pull an all nighter, but so much more fun than studying for exams!

On the 7th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Inspirational Romance.

KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh. This book was put out by my publisher this year, and it was one of my favorite reads. It could also fall under historical fiction. What a fun way to learn! Book #2, KIYA: Mother of a King is sitting on my Kindle, waiting to be read over my Christmas vacation!

On the 6th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Mythological Fiction.

Tangled Tides. Love the tag line: Yara Jones doesn’t believe in sea monsters–until she becomes one. This book is so good, seriously one of my 13yo favs!

On the 5th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Magical Realism/Adventure Fiction.

Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game. Of course, if you’re feeling like winning the title, “Aunt of the Year” then go ahead and buy all 5 books in the series for your tween/teen, but all of the stories can also stand alone. Who doesn’t love the idea of Disney characters coming to life, no matter what age you are!

One the 4th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Fantasy Fiction.

Core. This is the debut novel by a talented writer and friend who attends the same church as me. I have one word for ya: Dragons. Really, what more do you need?

On the 3rd Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me. . . Sci-Fi/Dystopian Fiction.

Under the Never Sky and Through the Ever Night. Yep, another two-for-one deal here. Can’t recommend these books enough. Out of 5 stars, I’d give them 10! If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, this is a must read! And since it’s told through dual narrative, the hero and heroine’s POV, it offers broad appeal.

On the 2nd and 1st Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Contemporary Coming of Age Fiction.

The Moon and More. I’m in love with Sarah Dessen. She is my literary girl crush. I could read nothing but her books for the rest of my life, and I’d be in heaven!

18 Things.  I may be biased here, but this is one heck of a book! Hahaha . . . could also fit under Inspirational and Paranormal Romance, but the overall arc of the series is definitely first and foremost a coming of age tale.

I could go on and on . . . why did the song have to be the 12 Days of Christmas?! So many books, so little time. Some other honorable mentions are the 4 novels I’m reading with my Language Arts classes right now: The Girl Who Threw Butterflies, Legend, Janitors, and Cinder.

*What about you? What books would you recommend buying as gifts for the holiday season, YA or otherwise? Read any of these books? Yay or Nay to my picks?

IWSG: Running On Empty

“Please don’t run out, please don’t run out,” I prayed silently as my old Plymouth Neon sputtered down the dark road.

I was on my way to pick up Dan from work at Blockbuster (yeah, this is back when he was my boyfriend. Holy crap–we’ve been married 15 years now!) I’d seen a movie with my girlfriends and unexpectedly had to take someone home. As usual, I was running on empty. Even though money was tight on waitressing tips from Perkins, it wasn’t that I didn’t have cash. I simply never left myself enough time to stop for gas while rushing around town. And I’d gotten cocky. I’d seen the needle just past empty and made it enough times not to be.

But not on this night. I pulled into the church parking lot off the side of the road, cursing my lack of faith. And because this was before the age of cellulars, I ran to the nearest gas station . . . about two miles away. The nice man inside let me use the phone to call Blockbuster, but it was past midnight on Friday. They’d already locked up, not answering any more calls, and Dan stood in the parking lot waiting for me, assuring his coworkers I’d arrive any minute now as they left one by one.

Old habits die hard. I sometimes do the same thing with my writing. In November, I participated in NaNo for the first time ever.


And boy, did I start out running at top speed, barely slowing down enough to say more than a few words to my family. I’d get up late each morning, exhausted from my 2a.m. sprint from the night before, rush headlong into the day teaching middle school, write all evening, and repeat the cycle . . .  for ten days. Yeah, ten. Perhaps you recall this Twitter update from me:

Jamie M Ayres     ‏@jamiemayres                10 Nov

Haven’t done a #NaNoWriMo update in a while b/c I’ve been, ya know, writing, hahaha! Up to 27,960 words total. How’s everyone else doing?!

Yeah, you read that right. 27, 960 words in just 10 days? You were all thinking I was some rock star, thinking, “She’s got this, right?”


Want to know my final word count for the month?

30, 968

I left no time for other things, putting myself at risk of running on empty again, being stranded in the dark, far away from my husband.

So, what’s the answer? National Novel Writing Month isn’t for me. I need balance. And in the end, even though I didn’t finish the race before they took the clock down, I still count myself a winner. I still have 30,000+ words I wouldn’t have had before. That’s 30,968 words to the last novel in my trilogy, 18 Thoughts. And with 18 Truths being released next month, I’m confident I won’t have to wait a freakin’ year in-between book releases next time. Go me!

I’d love to know your thoughts! What do you do to keep your tanks full? Are you running on empty? Is it time for a fill-up? The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is the perfect pit stop!

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG


Cyber Monday Blowout!


The holidays are in full swing – which means it’s time to start shopping! For the first time EVER, Curiosity Quills Press is offering deals on the biggest online shopping day of the year. On Monday, December 2nd (and extending through December 3rd), prepare for savings you’ve never dreamed of.

Now is the time to add some of our best-selling titles to your bookshelves for jaw-dropping, heart-stopping, world-rocking low prices. You can read the best in science-fiction, horror, mystery fantasy and paranormal fiction by authors like A.K. Morgen, Aidan James, A.W. Exley, James Wymore, Katie Hamstead, and of course, Jamie Ayres for only 99 cents!

Here’s the link for 18 THINGS . . . it’s rocking the top 100 today in the Coming of Age category, but I’d love to see it in the top 50, or 20, or 10 (then it really would feel like Christmas)! Why not be a secret elf & gift someone an early Christmas present to their Kindle?!

P.S. You don’t need to own a Kindle . . . you can download the app onto your phone, iPad, laptop . . . for free!

P.S.S. I’ll see you Wednesday for my regular scheduled programing with Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

P.S.S.S. You should check out my friend’s Fairy Tales Out Loud podcast. His new comic fantasy novel STILTSKIN arrives in just 7 days! The unique world and writings of Andrew Buckley are highly entertaining!