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Writer To Reader
Guest Post with Sheila Roberts
October 2016

Better Be Careful What You Whisper In This Santa's Ear!

Every year our author friend up Seattle way, Sheila Roberts, dreams up a fun Christmas story. Two have even been made into TV movies! Sheila’s 2016 holiday story, Three Christmas Wishes, has “classic” written all over it. The premise is so much fun, we sat down with Sheila to find out where she came up with this inventive story idea.

In your new holiday novel, Three Christmas Wishes, on a lark three friends whose love lives are suffering visit a mall Santa and tell him their most ardent wish. Riley and Jo want help in the romance department, and the third, Noel, has given up on finding the perfect man. She just wants the perfect house. Santa’s feedback seems strange at the time, but later they realize the old boy knew what he was talking about! And then the three friends learn that they’re the only ones who saw that Santa in the mall. Was he—could he have been—the real St. Nick?! What inspired this fun girlfriend storyline?Three Christmas Wishes

 I got to thinking about what fun it was going to see Santa when I was a little girl and wondered what would happen if a big girl went to see him with big girl problems. Plus the idea of a matchmaking Santa appealed to me.

We’ve learned from other authors that sometimes things that happen in their real lives inspire certain plot points in their books. Were Riley’s, Noel’s, or Jo’s dilemmas in the opening pages of the book inspired by something that happened in your life or the life of a friend? For example, Noel’s house-hunting—did a move you made tickle your muse and help you flesh out Noel’s situation?

The only thing I took from my real life is my abhorrence of rats. I can’t stand them! I always said when my kids were growing up that the one pet I didn’t want in the house was a rat. So what happened when my husband and daughter were out unsupervised one day? They came home with a rat. Basil, the rat. Eeew. And Basil was lonely, so eventually, we had Chewey—twice the fun for mom. The things were stinky, and I was ever, always after my daughter to clean their cage. Then one day, I don’t remember the hows or whys, I wound up having to take one of said rats out of the cage. That tail! Heaven, help me. I managed. But I think I was scarred for life.

As an adult, have you ever shared your Christmas wishes with Santa? If so, tell us about it!

As an adult my go-to Santa is my other half. Usually, he comes through. Sometimes, though, he doesn’t get the message. Early in our marriage he got the wrong message and gave me a filing cabinet. This for a girl who likes perfume, chocolates, fancy clothes. “What’s with this?” I demanded. He replied, “You said you wanted to get organized.” Well, maybe I did, but not for Christmas. Funny thing, though. I used that cabinet for years and years and years. So it really was a good gift. (But don’t tell my husband I said that.)

It’s obvious from your Facebook posts that you enjoy doing and planning things with your girlfriends. What kinds of things do you do during the Christmas holidays with your friends?

In November we take a day in the city and visit two different, fabulous nurseries that have all kinds of Christmas decorations. After that it’s lunch at P.F. Chang’s and then home with our treasures. Another set of friends has a holiday get together where we play the ever popular game of gift-stealing, vying for such valuable treasures as singing toilet seats and leftover Halloween candy. Then, of course, there’s the holiday swap party, where I gather with the gang from the old neighborhood and swap treasures. Always fun. In fact, I just enjoyed a swap party with my girlfriends at the beach and came away with a brand new yoga mat and two camp chairs. Score!

You've created a helpful Sheila Roberts’ Christmas Central page on your website, with fun ideas for gifts, gift-wrapping, decorating, baking, reducing holiday stress and making Christmas meaningful for children. Obviously you love Christmas! How do you find time to do all these things and still write your novels? Do you still write during the holidays?

I’m always writing. But I also make sure I schedule in time for play. The writing gets done first thing in the morning. That way I have my afternoons free for errands or the other business that an author needs to attend to. The weekends, of course, are always reserved for fun with family and friends. And I am truly blessed with both a great family and wonderful friends.

Is your passion for the holidays rooted in your family’s traditions, or is this all Sheila inspired?

My family has always celebrated Christmas in a big way. My mother was a wonderful hostess and so creative. I think she inspired me. I still get together every Christmas Eve with my extended family for games, carol singing and the traditional reading of the Christmas story. Every year we bring out the same traditions and every year it’s special.

What’s something that you and your family do during the holidays that’s unique to your family?

When the kids were little we had a birthday cake for Jesus. The kids are grown now and we’ve got grandkids, and we’re still doing the cake. It has to be red velvet with my special secret frosting. One year I thought it would be nice to try a different cake. “Where’s the red velvet cake?” was the lament of the day. I’ve never heard the end of it. And I’ve never made anything else since. For a glimpse of that creative, helpful Sheila Roberts’ Christmas Central page, visit SheilasPlace.com , and get your copy of Three Christmas Wishes today!

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