by Natalie Keller Reinert
Happy Thanksgiving week! I hope everyone has already cleaned their houses from top-to-bottom, gotten all their groceries ready, and is preparing to strap on an apron and get cooking bright and early Wednesday morning.
(Oh, wait, I'm talking to horse-people here. I hope everyone is excited to have Thursday off for extra riding time! Don't forget to pick up some take-out for dinner on the way home!)
Of course, last year I was in the barn on Thanksgiving too, prepping the NYC Parks horses for their march in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I marched in it too, but I'm very happy to be spending the holiday indoors this year! It's supposed to be frigid and blustery. This year, I'll be doing the cooking thing in my warm kitchen, and thinking of all my chilly friends out there on horseback. I'm from Florida, people. I just wasn't built for cold weather. I hibernate, I write, I cook. See you in spring.
And so it's probably inevitable that as the leaves fell and the temperatures dropped, my thoughts turned to the greener trees and balmier climes of home. Most holiday stories concern themselves with sleigh bells and snowfall, but when I wrote Claiming Christmas, my new holiday novella, all I had on my mind was a mild Florida winter. No snow need apply, and the only sleigh bells are on carriage horses trying to look Christmassy on an eighty-five degree afternoon.
Claiming Christmas is an Alex and Alexander novella, picking up where Other People's Horses left off. It's late October, and the Christmas songs are starting to play in the stores, but Alex is on a self-imposed vacation from the world, only paying attention to her horses. Then she's tapped to fulfill a Christmas wish for a local girl with a tragic past and a future that's less than merry and bright. Grudgingly, Alex takes on the job -- and finds herself ready to do anything to give the kid a merry Christmas at last.
Writing this story reminded me of some of the dedicated riding instructors I had as a child, and the relationships we developed. I was a determined rider without a huge bank account to fund my ambition; along the way I met trainers who saw how hard I was willing to work, and they found ways to see me through tough times and keep me in the saddle. Alex has never had that interest in people (or children) but in this story, she finds out what it feels like to be a role model, and to hold the key to someone's happiness -- and she likes the feeling.
And so as we descend into the madness -- I mean the spirit -- of the season, I hope you all have people (and horses) in your lives that remind you of how much you give every day.
Claiming Christmas is available for 99 cents as a Kindle or Nook ebook, or in virtually any format your heart could desire at Smashwords.