With Christmas fast approaching, I thought why not ease you all into the spirit of the holiday with ten chapters from my novel, KRINGLE. Yes! Ten free chapters for you to enjoy running Monday through Thursday through November 16th. Hope you enjoy!
To catch up on the story, I’ve added the Links to the end of this post.
Candy kissed his cheek. “Remember. Nine o’clock sharp. Ornament meeting.”
“What are you, my human day planner? Go sprinkle the world with beauty, Miss Joyous Noël. I’ll be there on time.”
“And you’ll stay there?” Her eyes narrowed.
As he said, “Yah yah,” he thought Candy’s gorgeous face, sunshiny hair and blueberry-blue eyes resembled her mother…except Holly had auburn hair and brown eyes, but even after twenty years together he still thought her the sexiest woman alive. And now their daughter was almost grown. Not quite. She was what, fifteen? He left the birthday facts and figures up to Holly. Seemed like only yesterday when three-year-old Candy sat on his lap and exclaimed how much Santa looked like her daddy.
“What are your plans today?” he asked. “Hair appointment? Clothes shopping? It’s not every day you’re sculpted in ice.”
Candy froze halfway into her pink faux bunny-fur coat. “Am I less than perfect?”
Kris noticed Cookie shook her head. “No, honey. You look great. Wasn’t I just saying, Cook, how spectacular Candy looks these days?”
Cookie nodded. “Extra special, ultra-spectacular.”
Candy buttoned her coat. “I hate to be touchy, but my crown demands me to adhere to a high standard. Malkorka says image is everything. I have to be perfect.” She didn’t sound happy.
“Why would you care what my crackpot secretary says?”
“As the first Miss Joyous Noël, Malkorka set the standard for future candidates. She composed the Miss Joyous Noël ideal criteria handbook.”
“She’s also responsible for the tradition where I have Yuley-the-goat knock his horns on Scandinavian doors so I can give gifts in exchange for porridge. Not only am I so sick of porridge that I have dry heaves when I fly over Sweden, but I still have goat stink in my nose hairs from last year. This year Yuley stays home.”
“And forget tradition?” his daughters asked in unison.
His heart lurched. Tradition! He loved tradition. He was steeped in tradition. He was no one without tradition. “Fine. Yuley can come. But I want a new tradition where Malkorka gives him a bath before I leave or she has to shave her head.”
Candy gasped. “Malkorka has beautiful hair. Brannoc thinks so.”
Cookie coughed and wheezed. Kris pounded her back. “Sorry, princess. Couldn’t hear you what with your sister coughing up a lung. What’d ya say?”
“Nothing, Daddy. Gotta run.”
Holly had mentioned he treated Candy like a pet. He listened to Cooper and Cookie because when they talked they made sense, but with Candy he daydreamed. He never understood what she was talking about. Holly suggested he take an interest in Candy’s world before it was too late and she became someone else’s best girl. Like that would ever happen. She would always be his best girl. She was his first born.
“You never talked about your day as Guest Hostess over at the granary. What’d ya do?” He set his expression to the one used when Holly insisted he attend finance meetings. He’d practiced in a mirror and knew it made him look interested. “Cut a ribbon? Give a speech? Serve cookies to the workers?”
Candy paled. “Just the same old mumble mumble.”
“Daddy, I have to go.”
“Okay. So what’s on today’s agenda?” Hand on the knob, she appeared confused. “You have your coat on. Where ya going?”
Candy glanced at Cookie writing in her planner. “I’m, uh…going outside.” She opened the door. “And once I’m there…” She stepped through. “I’ll close the door behind me.” And she did.
Kris scratched his beard. “Your mom suggested I make an effort to connect with your sister, but I don’t think there’s anyone, including your mother, who understands her.”
“I’ve been thinking.” Cookie put down her pen. “Since Grands recruited Cooper for Nature, you’re without a Santa heir.”
Kris shredded a muffin. “It’s not like I had a son to ensure a designated heir for the family business, but I didn’t have a choice. My dad told me I couldn’t be a cowboy when I was four years old. He didn’t ask if I wanted to be Santa.”
“If you fight Grands, aren’t you doing to Cooper what Grandpa Santa did to you?” Cookie touched his hand. “If you resent not having had a choice, give Cooper one. He’s excited about Nature. Yesterday I saw him reading about atmospheric structure and composition, and the book didn’t even have pictures.”
“I love being Santa. I thought Cooper would, too.” Cookie didn’t understand. Losing Cooper to Kingston was like Batman losing Robin to the Joker.
“It’ll be hard to find Cooper’s replacement,” Cookie said.
“I should post the job with Elfin Resources. Brannoc is to take over as Production Manager when Scotchie retires. Maybe he could be Santa instead.”
“But who would run Production?”
Unable to picture Brannoc’s six-pack abs inflating into a belly that shook like a bowl full of jelly, Kris shelved that idea. Besides, Brannoc had a wicked reputation. Couldn’t have him slip down chimneys to deliver toys and end up in bed with the mommies. “Got any suggestions?”
Kris laughed. “No way.”
She wasn’t joking! He scrambled to explain. “The job traditionally goes to the eldest son, honey. And if not to a son, to another man, though that’s never happened.”
“So if Cooper becomes Father Nature, you’ll train an outsider… Because I’m a girl?”
“Right. No. Wait!” He watched her expression harden. “Santa’s are men. You know that.”
She slapped her planner shut. “I make straight A’s. I’ve skipped three grades. I take college law classes. I’m fifteen.”
“I’m not questioning your intel— You’re fifteen?”
“I’m Class President.” She stood. “I head a dozen school committees, yet at home I’m little Cookie-monster.”
“Aw, honey. I hate to disappoint you.”
“I’ve said my piece. You’ve said yours.” She glanced at her watch. “You’d better leave. If you’re late we’ll have to scrap the party because Mom will have killed you.”
He searched for words to soften her disappointment, but when none came she left him alone with his grapefruit and a nasty bowl of oatmeal. “Bah humbug.” He had to change Cooper’s mind. He didn’t have a choice as a kid, so why should Coop? Okay, that was mean. But there had to be a way to convince Cooper to choose Santa over Nature.
Cooper wouldn’t be happy as Father Nature. He loved to play, act silly. Make people happy. You needed to keep the child in you alive to be successful in the toy business. Cooper could do that hands down, whereas the Nature business was all about blowing things up or tearing things down. Oh sure, Nature grew spectacular things. At least it had when Holly’s grandmother ran the biz. When Kingston took over, the world became a hotter, episodic nightmare with earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and volcanoes wiping people off the planet. Unable to picture his son pushing up his sleeves to send a twenty-foot tidal wave into unsuspecting islands, or reviving two dead volcanoes to alleviate boredom, Kris knew he had to save his son from his grandfather.
The clatter of dishes jerked his attention to their housekeeper clearing the table. “Nothing like drama for breakfast, eh Edda?”
“I no tock a’choo,” she said in broken English. Broken from what ethnic branch no one knew, but the family loved her accent, even if no one could understand her. “You make Meess Holly cry.” She pointed a gnarled finger at him. “Grownups eat dar veggebles even if nobody makes them. It time you grow up now, Meester Krees.”
Maybe Scrooge was right. Maybe keeping childish things into adulthood wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
The backdoor crashed open. “What has my poster child for immaturity done this time?” With her acres of silver hair windblown and wild, Malkorka’s eyes flamed with fury. “You’ve upset the mother of Miss Joyous Noël. If Candy has the slightest puff under her eyes from stress, I will cause you such misery, you will pray for death to escape me.”
He should have known. The Polartown grapevine was slicker than ice when it came to personal information about the Kringle family.
In the next issue of the Tittle-Tattle he expected to see his photo on the cover along with the caption:
Behind Closed Doors, His Family Weeps.
Holly Kringle has a very full plate. She is Highest Mayor of Polartown and President of Kringle Enterprises–the company that puts the ‘Merry’ in Christmas and the ‘Happy’ in Holidays. She is also the mother of teenagers and wife to Kris Kringle–the World’s Biggest Kid. When the reindeer are poisoned three days before Eve Launch, Holly adds amateur detective to her resume. With just about everyone in Polartown under suspicion, she doesn’t have time to dwell on employee problems, personal family issues, her 50th birthday, or investigate her husband’s highly suspicious behavior. If Dancer dies, her soulmate Dasher won’t want to live without her. And like a pod of whales beaching on the shore, the remaining Famous Eight will surely follow.
10 KRINGLE chapters will post Monday through Thursday until November 16th. Naturally there is my hope that you will be caught up in the story to want to buy the book, either paperback or ebook, and to make it so much more enticing to you, I’ve dropped the prices. Plus every penny of profit will benefit cats from a local colony. All of my fur babies, except for Herman, came from that colony. While I cannot afford to adopt another cat — when I took in Candy, Elly and Chevy over the past 12 months with Els and Chev being FIV+, that brought the Wonderpurr Gang up to 13 — I would never turn away a hungry animal who wanders into my yard, especially in winter.
Hope that sounds enticing to you Christmas novel readers. And if it does, I have created three ways for you to purchase KRINGLE, if you so desire.
KINDLE eBooks – If you enjoy ebooks, KRINGLE is available on Kindle for $3.99 with a generous royalty profit of $2.73 for the kitties.
Amazon.com – You can purchase the paperback for $7.95 where the royalty is .54 (grrr) and shipping is about $4.59.
CREATESPACE – I’ve set up a Createspace store specifically for KRINGLE readers. There the book is priced at $7.95 with a royalty of $2.13 and standard shipping is about $3.59.
I hope you enjoy the ten free chapters. And if you do, please tell your friends. Better yet…buy a book, either as a gift for yourself, or for someone on your gift list who enjoys campy, funny, holiday mysteries.
Love to you all!
Kim, Herman, Dori
and the Wonderpurr Gang