Children are So Quotable

Third in a Series on Why I Wrote “Christmas on Pleasant Hill”

Christmas is magical and kids are adorable, so when I wanted to write a book and split profits with our local pre-school, what better than a book of Christmas short stories with plenty of children?

“Christmas on Pleasant Hill” isn’t a children’s book – a few of the stories, like “The Refuge” and “The Painting”, are more suited to teenagers and adults, but eight of the twelve stories do feature children.

From a three year old trying to figure out why he can’t see Jesus, to high schoolers angsting over a school dance, the stories give a compassionate snapshot of family life in its different stages, highlighting the sweetness and humor.

Only some of the stories are based on true incidents, but all of them involve real people. If the story wasn’t based on an incident that really happened, I used people in the neighborhood as inspiration, and imagined how they might interact with one another.

In “Kyle Helps Santa” I thought of the cute, sociable kid around the corner in the big house, and what might happen if he met one of my favorite students in our church’s tutoring program – a sweet, brave, loyal little boy named Andre. I love it when racial and socioeconomic worlds collide and people are richer for it.

Likewise in “Why the Bells Rang”, I riffed on an ancient Christmas legend using a man, an older student, and a little boy I knew from church. It may not have actually happened, but it could have….

“Christmas on Pleasant Hill” is available on Amazon. Half the profits go to 3Cs Nursery School.

Bringing Christmas Home

Second in a series on why I wrote, “Christmas on Pleasant Hill”

It seems like Christmas stories are usually set in other times or places than where we live.

I wanted to write a book where the magic was in my front yard, among my neighbors, at my church.

“Christmas on Pleasant Hill” is a book of 12 family Christmas stories set in a Cincinnati neighborhood. Some of them happened. The rest of them could have happened. A few of them may even have happened to my own family!

More than any other gift, we all need to feel the nearness and goodness of God. Everything we pour our time into in December – buying gifts, decorating, cooking, performing in concerts and plays, reading the old stories to our children – it’s all in the effort to give each other love and delight, to affirm that life is worth living and there is a good Creator in the midst of it.

We, as much as the characters in these stories, need to be reminded of these truths. Some are worn down from the exhaustion of trying to build a life out of poverty. Some are overwhelmed with the hard work of parenting. Some are broken by addiction, disability or someone else’s cruelty. All of them are ready for God to show up.

And God does show up, in many unexpected ways, right in the middle of everyday life. “Christmas on Pleasant Hill” shines a light on those moments, right where we live.

“Christmas on Pleasant Hill” is available from Amazon.

Why I Wrote “Christmas on Pleasant Hill”

1. A Fairytale Setting

(First in a series about my book of Christmas short stories.)

Sometimes a setting just calls out to an author. “There are books and books here,” it says, “In the gingerbread houses, in the quiet woods, in the old stone churches and the grimy, crumbling apartments.”

The neighborhood of College Hill, about six miles north of downtown Cincinnati, used to be called “Pleasant Hill,” back in the 1800s, before the Farmers’ College sprawled over the hilltop with its fields and parklands and the Ladies’ College sat prettily on the main access road.

Back then it was a pleasant, country town where people of means could escape the grime and coal pollution of the city; hence all the lovely Victorians lining Belmont and Glenview.

Much of its beauty remains: the grand houses, the towering trees, the nature trails winding through La Boiteaux and Tanglewood Preserves. But – the other stark reality is that now, many of its people live in poverty. When great beauty lives alongside great need, there is a fairytale in the making. Happy ending or not, depends on the choices people make.

“Christmas on Pleasant Hill” is a book of Christmas short stories in which dreams come true and wrongs are righted. A little boy escapes his gated mansion to help a neighbor who needs Christmas presents. The shattered life of an addict pulls together when she inherits a mansion. A young music minister overcomes political, financial and talent hurdles to pull off the best Christmas concert ever.

Setting doesn’t make a book, but it’s much more fun to write it when your setting is a familiar, well-loved place.

“Christmas on Pleasant Hill” is available on Amazon. Reviews greatly appreciated!