As you all know by now I love Christmas and I adore Christmas stories. This year I had the privilege of critiquing a Christmas story by my good friend Kris Jacen. So without further ado, I’ll let Kris tell you a little bit about herself and her story. Take it away, Kris!

The holidays can be the hardest time of the year for some; for others it’s the most wonderful time of the year. For me it’s both.

I have wonderful memories of the holidays with my grandparents: my grammie putting up her ceramic tree the last year she was with us for Christmas; my grampy being completely confused long, long ago when I told him that Frosty wished me a Happy Birthday (I was 3 or 4); my nana always making sure that my birthday wasn’t forgotten (have I mentioned I’m a Christmas Eve baby?). I know that I’m lucky in the family department— I’ve got a marvelous biological family (yeah, we have our moments but we’re there for each other) and my chosen family is fantastic too.

This year the holidays are a bit bittersweeter than normal. One of my chosen family died unexpectedly a few weeks ago so that’s one less Christmas card for me to send out. He was an amazing guy that never found his forever partner. So what did I do? I gave him his partner in my story, SUGAR COOKIES AND COMPUTER CODE. I was in the middle of writing the story when he passed and it just seemed like something I should do. Ethan – wherever you are, I hope you’re happy and smiling down on us all.

This season— hug your friends and family close. Tell them you appreciate and love them. May you all have a joyous holiday season and a fantastic 2019.

SUGAR COOKIES AND COMPUTER CODE

Blurb: Tandy has never fit in with the others at the North Pole, whether it’s his size or love for computers. But he wants to contribute to the mission of making the world’s children happy. Every elf does. Taking time away from his baby — a new process for the Nice and Naughty lists — to do the yearly census on the Isle of Misfit Toys just doesn’t fit into his schedule.

It seemed like every time El turned around, there was another elf getting under foot for a census. Did the elves think that toys just disappeared from the Isle? And those that arrived were accounted for before they arrived. All El wanted at this point in his life was to become a baker at the North Pole. He’d had the love of a child already and Jack Frost did it hurt when he was no longer in his heart. Maybe if he avoided the elf this year, they’d just leave him to his cookies.

Can the magic of the holidays bring these two together? El and Tandy both need help healing and isn’t Christmas the season of miracles?

 

Excerpt:

Tandy’s elf tush was dragging, and he knew it. He should have listened to his dad and put aside the coding for the Nice and Naughty lists while he worked on the census, but he just couldn’t. So every night after tracking down the Isle’s residents, he’d go back to the visitor cottage and bury himself in his laptop. He thought he’d eaten the past few days but couldn’t remember what he’d eaten. He was sooooo making his sister cook for him when he got back to the Pole.

It was such a disappointment for his nonna. None of her children or even grandchildren could bake worth a sugar plum. She kept putting off retirement as Santa’s head baker, hoping upon hope that one of the kids would show some talent, but none of them had. Scarlett was an amazing chef, but when it came to sweets? Yeah, keep her far, far away. Kinda like the census.

He stopped walking in front of the bear’s cave. Yeah, he wasn’t thinking it was too cute today. No matter what, he had to get Elmer to fill out the census form. He might not want to, but the bear was going to. Tandy was not going back to his dad and telling him he didn’t have total information. Data was Tandy’s thing, and the bear was going to have to accept it.

Tandy let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding before trudging up to the door and knocking. He was fighting to stay awake. Probably wasn’t going to get much computer time tonight. He could barely keep his eyes from closing, but he was going to try his best to get some done.

Finally, the door opened, and the bear was standing there. Hmmm, no yelling upon opening the door this time? That boded well.

“Listen, I know you don’t want—”

“Are you hungry?” Elmer cut him off.

“I’m sorry, what?” Tandy was thrown for a loop. Did the bear ask him if he was hungry?

“Are you hungry? I know I was more a Grizzly bear than a teddy bear the other day, and I’m sorry. Can I feed you as an apology?” Elmer was standing there looking so guilty, Tandy almost laughed.

“Can you make anything other than desserts? I’m kinda spoiled when it comes to sweets with my—”

“Why don’t you come in and find out?” The bear teased. “Besides, you look like you’re about to fall over.”

“I am a bit tired, but you don’t have to feed me.” Tandy wasn’t going to just give in.

“Please? I know I’ve made way too much food tonight, and, yes, it’ll freeze, but…”

Looking at the pleading in Elmer’s eyes, Tandy couldn’t say no. “Okay, but I can’t stay long. I’ve got to do some more coding. I’m determined to get rid of the bug in the Eastern European list compilation. I’ve figured out that if the—”

“Whoa! You lost me after coding. Give me ingredients to combine into a meal? I’ve got you covered. Ask me to do more than check my email or surf the ‘net, and I’m lost.”

“Sorry, my family tell me all the time that if they get me started on my program, I’ve lost them. I’d love to sit down and eat with you.”

Learn more about Sugar Cookies & Computer Code.

Learn more about Kris Jacen.