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 until November 16th. Hope you enjoy!
To catch up on the story I’ve added the Links to the end of this post.
High atop Kringle Enterprises—the company that puts the ‘Merry’ in Christmas, the ‘Happy’ in Holidays—Bruna Tannenbaum stood in the presidential tower boardroom before the Ornamentation committee, defiant to their disinterest. “Tradition is der backbone of our industry, but too many of our traditions haff been cast aside in der name of progress.”
This morning she had tortured her lavender hair into a pompadour. Her green jacket had leg-of-mutton sleeves with padded shoulders, and her purple skirt accommodated a bustle. I think of Bruna’s fashion-sense as Late Victorian Power Dressing.
“First vee allow electric fairy lights to replace tree candles. Next, fake trees replace live.” Her bird-like eyes peered down her hawkish nose. “But vot I cannot accept is plastic to replace silver in der tinsel.”
I glanced at my watch. Bruna had clocked twenty-one minutes on the tinsel topic and showed no sign of stopping. I sympathized with her desire to use real, wafer-thin silver, but the tarnish factor is too high, plus the lead is lethal to children and pets. Regardless, she brings up the issue every year. Bruna lives in the past where toxins had yet to become a big deal. My supervisor’s anesthetized expressions urged me to interrupt her. Around the table, amid cookies and cocoa mugs, I’d spotted Bruna Bingo cards. As often as she’d used tinsel, tradition, plastic and progress, someone would cry ‘Brunie Bingo’ at any moment.
Fleur held a potpourri basket filled with such intense aromas, I wanted to throw up. Berries from Martee-Kay’s pepperberry wreath had loosened with her hummingbird-like impatience and rolled across the table to Iluminada, whose broad, Chippewa features had frozen over her candles spelling J-O-Y in six languages. Poised to discuss stockings, Sukka crocheted her flaxen hair in with the yarn.
Noak Lundegaard stood beside a life-sized topiary of Dancer, arms crossed, expression crosser. Noak could pass for Kris’s brother instead of his best friend. As he had just completed his third stint in rehab, Noak stood to avoid the temptation of baked goods strewn across the table.
Bruna droned on. “Real tinsel is magnificent with der silver and pewter, its drape perfect across each branch. At one time every home used tinsel, but no longer. Vhy? Vhy? Can you tell me vhy?”
“I’ll tell you vhy.” Noak crisscrossed his arms. “Pets eat the stuff. It’s pretty spendy to unwind it from a cat’s tonsils, you know?”
“Today’s tinsel is aluminum foil sandwiched between two layers of clear plastic. It’s pathetic. Untraditional.” Bruna looked at Kris, plainly hoping her tirade would trigger commentary from the Chief Toymaker, but instead of listening he was writing a list. Not the Naughty v. Nice list. That had been sorted and batched weeks ago. Perhaps he was making a list–checking it twice–on how to improve his health. Had my tantrum hit home?
Bruna pounded the table. “Denying the vorld real tinsel is like—”
“We all have our disappointments with the evolution of Christmas,” Noak interrupted. “I’m sure I’m not just speaking for myself when I say… Get over it.”
His bark jerked my spine straight. Kris fumble-fingered his pen. Board members gasped with horror and delight.
“We’re all disappointed Christmas ain’t like the old days. How ya think Naipes feels about ‘E’ cards?”
“D-don’t b-bring me into this.” The shy poet dove under the table.
Noak pointed at Kormos. “Most people think a Yule log is a dessert, eh?”
The Greek nodded. “Even calling Christmas, Christmas, is close to extinction.”
Spinning Kris in his chair, Noak approached Sukka who hugged her stocking as though it could protect her from attack. “Gimme another example, Sukka.”
She met my gaze with apology. “Why do retailers say ‘Happy Holidays,’ but have After Christmas sales?”
Noak shook Martee-Kay’s shoulders. “C’mon, Mar. We’re on a roll. Gimme another zample. C’mon. Speak up.”
I couldn’t close my mouth. Noak was having a meltdown…over tinsel? Then I smelled apple macaroon cake wafting from his clothes, and my heart broke.
“I’ve read about families told to remove their Nativity scenes from their front lawns,” Martee-Kay was saying, “or face fines from their homeowners’ association.”
“See?” Noak shouted at Bruna. “We’re all dis-runt… Dis-grunneled over the loss of Christmas tra-dishuns. You’re not za onny one.” He wrestled her back into her chair. “So now that Bruna is finished, I have completed Prancer’s topiary and want your commel-ments. Compel-ments. Comments.”
I stared at his ornamental shrub. Prancer?
“It isn’t Dancer?” asked Iluminada.
“What?” Twitching spasmodically, Noak inspected his work. Upon examining the underside he gasped, snatched the topiary and fled.
My supervisors immediately exploded with gossip:
“He’s mainlining confectioner’s sugar again.”
“I thought he was powdered.”
“He must have cut it off while sugared up. Prancer will be horrified.”
“Dancer will die laughing.”
While our work is filled with endless joy, there are also numerous temptations. For some the risk involves hoarding tree ornaments, playing non-stop carols on their elfPods or—in Noak’s case—sugar obsession. The Baked Goods Addiction is the hardest to kick because it requires going cold turkey, whereas gradual weaning achieves results with ornament and carol addictions.
Noak had been out of rehab for less than thirty days. I looked at Kris for reaction to his buddy’s meltdown. He avoided my gaze. I expected to feel triumphant. Instead I felt sad for Noak, for Kris. For anyone who craves what Dr. Havelock calls ‘White Death.’
A pink flash drew my attention to the lobby window. Candy and Brannoc had arrived. I prayed Kris would not turn around. I hadn’t had time to mention Candy’s ‘almost-engagement.’
I should have called the meeting to order, but instead my attention fixed on Brannoc Twrgadarn: six-feet-even, raven hair stippled silver-white. Four feet of iridescent wings unfurled behind his chiseled and ripped body. Brannoc looks twenty-five and radiates charisma. I wondered if Candy realized she turns all but invisible when standing beside him.
Once, my husband looked at me the way Brannoc now looked at our daughter. I still loved Kris’s quirky humor and the twinkle in his eyes. And I loved the way he whispers to me in the night…when he stayed awake long enough to whisper. Lately, romance had become tame to the point of ennui. Spats and veiled comments had also seeped into our relationship. Mom said that’s normal with old married couples, though the term ‘old married’ doesn’t sit well with me. For a middle-aged woman, I look pretty good. Living in a refrigerator-like climate tends to keep Polartownies fresh.
Poised under the mistletoe, Candy enticed Brannoc for a kiss. His hair fell forward to give them privacy. Before I dated Kris, Brannoc kissed me once. As I watched him kiss Candy, I involuntarily recalled the touch of his mouth on mine…and wasn’t prepared for the sudden ache in my core. Shock compounded by marital guilt threw me off balance. I grabbed the table.
From the expressions on my husband and staff, I’m pretty sure I cried that out loud. Beyond embarrassed, I shouted, “Meeting adjourned.”
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