A Wicked Welcome to Sharon Daynard! plus a giveaway of MURDER POINTS NORTH!

by Julie, dealing with snow in Somerville

There is nothing more thrilling than congratulating a friend on their debut novel. I’m so thrilled to have Sharon Daynard on the blog today to do exactly that. Sharon has had many short stories published, but Murder Points North is her debut as published novelist. On behalf of all of the Wickeds, congratulations Sharon!

A Christmas Note from Santa

We’ve all had them. The holiday disaster we don’t talk about. Who hasn’t made the rookie mistake of roasting a turkey with the giblet bag still stuffed inside the bird’s cavity, regifting an item to the original gifter, or putting the wrong gift tag on the wrong present. Of course, none of those top the Christmas my protagonist has in my holiday whodunit Murder Points North. Not only does she have the misfortune of discovering a dead body, but quickly finds herself the prime suspect in the murder. And let’s face it… No one wants to shop for those last minute Christmas gifts in a prison commissary.

I’ve never faced the prospect of ringing in the New Year behind bars, but I do have a pretty good story of a Christmas that went horrible wrong. Decades ago my son, Ken, then a second grader, came home from school on December 23 and asked the question every parent dreads—Is Santa Claus real? My daughter, Kris, a kindergartner, was on the verge of tears at the suggestion. I didn’t think we’d be having “the talk” for many Christmases to come. I panicked. I told them Santa was as real as I was and all they had to do was leave a note asking him to write back to prove it.

To understand what happened next, you need to know my wedding anniversary is on Christmas Eve and we always celebrate it with Chinese take-out. Instead of cookies and milk, we leave a plate of Chinese food for Santa.

Come that Christmas Eve, my children left a note on the table next to the Chinese food and hurried off to their rooms with a reminder that Santa wouldn’t come if they got out of their beds before morning. You can imagine how incredibly clever I thought I was writing “Santa’s” reply to them:

Dear Ken and Kris,
Thank you so much for the Chinese food.
If I had to eat one more cookie, I think I’d puke!
Merry Christmas,

My husband and I put on a Christmas movie and waited for the kids to fall asleep before placing the gifts under the tree. There was only one problem. We fell asleep watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the one thousandth time and woke to the sound of our daughter crying upstairs in her bedroom. Something about the combination of Chinese food, eggnog and sparkling apple cider didn’t sit well in her stomach and she threw up all over herself and the bedding. A quick shower, a clean pair of pajamas and fresh bed linens later, she was back in her bed.

With my daughter finally asleep, the stockings stuffed and the gifts under the tree, my husband and I headed off to bed. A few hours later we were woken a second time by my daughter’s crying—this time downstairs. After opening their Christmas stockings, Ken and Kris rushed to the table to see if Santa left them a note. When Ken read it out loud he thought Santa was a riot. Kris not so much. She thought Santa was mean and making fun of her for throwing up. She refused to open her gifts, wouldn’t wear her holiday outfit and was pretty much a Grinch for the rest of the day. And that’s they story of how I helped Santa ruin my five-year-old daughter’s Christmas.

Now it’s your turn. Have you ever been responsible for a Christmas gone wrong? I’m going to do a giveaway to one commenter on this post!

About Sharon:

Sharon Daynard’s writing runs the gamut from light and quirky to downright dark and troubling. Her debut novel, Murder Points North, takes a humorous spin on murder in a small town. Her short stories include “The Boss of Butlers Square” which received honorable mention for the Al Blanchard Award and “Widows Peak” which was nominated for a Derringer Award.

About Murder Points North:

With one week until Christmas, picturesque Points North, New Hampshire, hasn’t seen as much as a token flurry and the temperatures are almost as high as local tempers. The lack of snow, however, is the least of Liesl Alan’s worries. Liesl teaches geology, collects rocks, minerals and ex-husbands—three at last count. On the brink of turning forty, she finds herself living amongst a group of eccentric “innmates” at the Muddled Moose, an inn her family has owned for generations. Hardly in the Christmas spirit, the last thing Liesl’s looking forward to is a night of wearing a too tight, too ruffled, too plaid gown for the village’s annual Home for the Holidays open house celebration.When the event ends in a fiasco and someone from the Muddled Moose is found murdered, Liesl becomes the prime suspect of everyone from the lead homicide detective to her own mother. Fellow residents at the inn are even offering fashion tips for her inevitable perp walk and mug shot.Determined to prove her innocence and find the real killer, Liesl teams up with a private eye wannabe. With a list of suspects that might as well include all of Points North, she has her work cut out for her, especially when each new clue points her in a different direction.

67 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations on your debut, Sharon! I don’t think I’ve ever ruined Christmas for someone. If I did, I’ve blocked out that memory. But I have unintentionally hurt a child’s feelings before. I recall one time I laughed at something silly they did, only to have them start crying because they weren’t trying to be silly. Oops!

    1. Thank you, Marla. Looking back, I think I’ve had more holiday disasters that most people — all unintentional.

  2. I have not had a Christmas go wrong, thank goodness. Congratulations on your book release and thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Sharon, congratulations on the publication of your first novel!

    As for a ruined Christmas, yes I’ve been involved in a ruined one. I was NOT the only one responsible as the adage it takes two to tango applies but the Christmas the year my mom died turned into a explosive argument and ended up tearing apart the family. I won’t go into details but while things have improved a lot, I wouldn’t say things have fully recovered. Again, while I played my part, I wasn’t the only one involved.

    1. Thanks for the congratulations on the book.
      I hope things continue to improve and you enjoy the holidays.

    2. Jay, I can relate via my father and uncle fighting during the Christmas holidays. Needless to say, Grandma’s sons were not invited to Christmas dinner!

  4. Congratulations on your debut novel! I will put it on my list – can’t wait to read it!

    I haven’t done the regifting, but I have cooked a turkey with the giblets bag still in it, and I have given a gift to the wrong person by mistake! I’ve had little things go wrong at Christmas, but nothing big. My big mistake, feeling like a terrible mother, happened at Easter. We visited family out of state and of course were rushing to get everything in the car. I had things to give everybody we were going to see. But somehow, and I STILL am not over this, I completely forgot about my daughter! We had no Easter basket of goodies for her! We were staying at a hotel, and my husband rushed out the night before to get something for her. The only place he could find open was a gas station down the street. It wasn’t pretty. My daughter, who was 12, handled it very well, I must say. But I was heartbroken. Still am and she’s 16 now!

    1. Thank you, Renee.
      Your daughter sounds like a great kid. It’s amazing how they get over things that stay with the rest of us for years. I hope for holidays are stress free.

  5. Congrats on the debut, Sharon! I just roasted the giblets in the turkey this last Thanksgiving. I couldn’t find them in the cavity and thought they weren’t there. Oh well.

    Christmas gone wrong? I’m not sure. But the Christmas my daughter (then 10) asked “the question” about Santa was tricky. Fortunately, she eventually bought into the “now you get to be Santa” explanation pretty quickly. Of course, I thought she did a great job for her brother…until both kids confessed they’d maintained his “innocence” for several years past when he knew. For my sake, or so they said. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Liz.
      I wish I could say I only left the giblet bag in the turkey once. Cooking in general is not my forte.
      Your kids sound like quite the pair! I love the “innocence” for your sake comment. It’s pure genius!
      Happy Holidays!

  6. Well, maybe not Christmas but immediately afterwards. Many years ago, we were all extremely happy because it was going to be the first Christmas my brother was home with us in 12 years. Mom and I stayed busy making all the goodies and treats that we always had when I was a kid growing up. I knew I felt horrible, but had attributed it to stress and working from sun up to sun down for so many days in a row. I would work and then I got exhausted I’d lay down for 5 minutes only to pop up and do more. My generation was raised to where if things needed done you just sucked it up and got ‘r’ done.

    Christmas went off without a hitch – other than my need for those 5 minutes getting more often and not feeling like they did much good towards to end. Fun times and wonderful memories. Then two days after Christmas I woke up so sick I drove myself to the doctor who immediately put me in the hospital – for 37 days. That meant my Mom and Dad had to take over child care duties for their granddaughter not to mention contacting everyone I saw during our family gathering to be tested. Thankful they were all clear, but to say I added an end zinger to our Christmas memories is an understatement. IF I hadn’t waited so long to go to the doctor, the outcome would have been less severe. Christmas would have happened and everyone won’t have been out so much work and stress afterwords, but we can’t live the “what ifs”, but rather live and learn. 🙂
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Wow! Thirty-seven days!
      I’m so glad everything worked out for you.
      Here’s hoping your holidays and post-holidays are event free.
      Happy Holidays!


  7. Congratulations on your new book. How exciting!
    I wouldn’t say I ruined any holiday but my daughter, with help from my mother-in-law did not make it a fun Christmas. My daughter was just 2 weeks old and my mother-in-law insisted we come to her house for Christmas. My daughter was passed around from person to person and slept most of the day. When we got home she was so overstimulated that she screamed for hours. Nothing my hubby and I tried could calm her down. We had to just hold her and wait it out until she screamed herself to sleep. I think if she had not been our first child, I would have told my mother-in-law that we would not come for the holiday or at least not let everyone hold her and pass her around.
    Margaret: scarletbegonia5858(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Thank you, Margaret.
      I understand where you’re coming from. No one can resist a new baby!
      My daughter was just shy of 4 weeks old her first Christmas. Luckily for us, she was our second and slept through most of the festivities.
      Wishing you a merry and restful holiday!

  8. I’m so happy for you Sharon! There was the Christmas my husband set a bush outside the house on fire. Fortunately I noticed it before the house went up in flames.

    1. Wow, Sherry, that could have been disastrous for all! Glad everything worked out okay!

    2. Thank you, Sherry.
      I’ve never caught a shrub on fire, but there’s always a first!
      I’m glad you were there to save the day!

    3. Thank you, Sherry!
      I’ve never burned a shrub, but there’s always a first time. I glad you were there to save the day!

  9. Congratulations on your debut novel! I’m looking forward to reading Murder Points North. I remember being quite sick one Christmas Eve, no memory of why, and my sister telling me I was ruining Christmas!

    1. Thank you, Anne.
      Are you sure you didn’t have Chinese food, eggnog and sparkling cider that year?
      Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday this year!

  10. What a great story! When I was seven, I contracted chicken pox right before Christmas. We had plans to spend Christmas Day with friends, and of course that was out. What made it even more annoying is that I had already had chickenpox when I was a baby! Thanks for the great giveaway!

    1. Wow, I didn’t have chicken pox until I was 29 years old About killed me, or I felt that way!) I can’t imagine having them twice in such a short time! So you definitely want a Shingles shot when you are old enough. Sounds like you have a high risk of getting them!

    2. Thank you, Autumn.
      Chickenpox twice! That’s awful, especially at Christmas!
      Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday.

    1. Thank you, Julie.
      Unfortunately, I have many more stories like that one…
      Thank you so much for inviting me to the blog.

  11. Hi Sharon!
    It was a pleasure meeting you at SinC Christmas party! Love your disastrous Christmas story! Bet your children will never forget it either! Maybe should have read the fortune cookie first! It may have forewarned! Best wishes this holiday season!

    1. Thank you so much. Crime Bake is always a great weekend.
      I think you’re right about those fortune cookies!
      Happy Holidays!

    2. Thank you for visiting the blog! The SinCNE holiday party was so much fun this year.
      I think you’re right about the fortune cookie!
      Happy Holidays!

  12. Congratulations! As a single mom I have had many mishaps at Christmas time with 3 small children, too many to mention. It all worked out fine and now they are all in their mid to late twenties and we look back and laugh at some of the things that happened.

    1. Hi Donna! Thank you for visiting the blog. I’m hoping all your mishaps were minor.
      My children are now in their 30s and can laugh about mine.
      Happy Holidays!

  13. Didn’t ruin anything, but I still get a hard time about this. When I was about 2 or 3 I was helping my mom make Christmas cookies when I said “it’s snowing.” Mom looks out the window, it’s not snowing. Turns to me brushing flour off the edge of the table making it “snow.”

  14. Thanks for sharing that story. While I’m sure you weren’t laughing that year, I do hope all of you have laugh about it now.

    I don’t have any stories like that to share. Other than being sick for Christmas, I’ve not been responsible for any disasters.

    Congrats on the new book.

    1. Thank you, Mark. It sounds like you’re one of the lucky ones!
      Happy Holidays!

  15. Congratulation on the new release! Oh, that was a good one! I hope your daughter has recovered from her irritation with Santa :-). One year Mrs. Santa forgot to fill the stockings and was one step ahead of curious children. And one year my husband and I miscommunicated about who would do the shopping for our son who was coming to visit. So he got a really nice track suit. He was fine but I felt so bad. I’m the mom, right? Happy Holidays!

    1. Thank you, Sally.
      Now in her 30s, my daughter can laugh about it.
      I love your stocking stuffer story!
      One year, I couldn’t find half the stocking stuffers I’d bought.
      Luckily, the kids didn’t notice.
      I’m glad your son was a good sport about the track suit.
      Happy Holidays!

    1. Thank you, Barb.
      The tag mix-up is everyone’s nightmare.
      I usually blame it on one of the elf’s sloppy handwriting….
      Happy Holidays!

  16. Great war stories, one and all. I’ve never ruined a Christmas, but I saved one. We were traveling from Boston to Cleveland on Christmas Eve. Got stuck in a blizzard in Erie, PA. Had to spend 2 days in a motel. I cut a tiny, tiny Christmas tree out of a piece of Christmas wrap and stuck it to the mirror. We each had one gift to open. And we still read Night Before Christmas to our daughter (a tradition to this day – she’s now 49) who was about 10 at the time. We made the best of it and finally got to Grandma’s house a few days late. We decided never to drive there at Christmas again. Took the train. Much more comfy and reliable.

    1. What a great holiday story, Ginny!
      I’m so glad you were able to make the best of the situation.
      Sounds like you had a Christmas you’ll never forget and for all the right reasons.
      Happy Holidays,

  17. Congratulations on your debut novel, Sharon! I loved the disastrous story. I am sure y’all laugh about it for years to come. (Or at least until another crisis happens! lol)
    I have never actually ruined a Christmas but I have disappointed by grandparents. I grew up with my grandparents from age 2 and I was 4. This was after my grandmother found how well I could read; my birthday present, back in October that year, was getting The Murder at the Vicarage from the library that my grandmother and I read the following week. Anyway, I had to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and I caught them put the presents under the tree. They didn’t hear me until I flushed the toilet. When I came out they were sitting in their respective chairs and asked was I okay. I told them I knew they were Santa so they didn’t need to sneak around anymore. I told them I knew it when I went into Fred’s (my grandpa) closet to get him a tie last month!
    Thank you for the wonderful giveaway!

    1. Such a fun story, Teddi!
      And what a reader you were at 4!
      I hope your grandparents got past your confession in time to celebrate with you.
      Happy Holidays!

    1. Thank you for stopping by the blog, Dianne.
      I’m jealous of your disaster-free holiday status!
      Happy Holidays,

    2. Thank you for visiting the blog and leaving a comment, Dianne.
      I’m very jealous of your distaster-free holiday status!
      Happy Holidays,

  18. Congrats on your debut novel, Sharon! I am absolutely certain I did something wrong at Christmas at some point because that’s just parenthood, right? 🙂 Thankfully my kids survived and (hopefully) all is forgotten!

  19. Thank you, Katie!
    You are so very right about parenting. Looking back I can laugh, but at the time, all I could do was shrug and carry on.
    Happy Holidays!

  20. Wow! I don’t think I had a Christmas disaster, but my mom did. Several years ago she was getting ready to eat, she took out the meat, but it was spoiled! Of course, everything was closed. That was the year we had mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner.

    1. I hope it was mashed potatoes with all the fixings!
      It’s stories like that, that you remember with a smile.
      Happy Holidays,

  21. This book sounds intriguing and like a very good book, I really love the cover! Thank you for sharing about this book, it sounds like a book I would love to read, I will be adding it to my TBR list.

    1. Thank you, Alicia!
      And thank you for visiting the blog.
      I love the cover too.

      Happy Holidays,

  22. Luckily no, but I’ve been the victim of a Christmas gone wrong, it should be about love and family and friends

    1. Thank you for visiting the blog, Taylor.
      I hope all your Christmases are merry and bright.
      Happy Holidays,

    1. Hi Karaleigh!
      Thank you for visiting the blog and leaving a comment.
      Hoping your holidays are clear of snowstorms!
      Happy Holidays,

  23. It was unintentional, but one Christmas I went to my parents’ feeling a bit ill. Maybe a cold, I thought. But, by Christmas day I was 103 degrees and had to be taken to the ER. I had pneumonia, and my poor dad stayed there through the IV therapy, while everyone else worried at home (before cell phones). Thankfully I recovered fast, but had a purple left hand for a while.

    1. Hi Gloria,
      Thank you for visiting the blog.
      What a miserable way to spend the holidays. At least you had your dad with you.
      It’s a amazing how we all survived without cellphones back then, but are lost without them now.

      Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday this year and for years to come,
      Happy Holidays,

  24. Congratulations on your release; I know I’ll love it as humor is very important to me.

    My only story is a funny one. Our son from the age of about 8 decided that he didn’t believe any more and would always find and open our hidden gifts before Christmas. I tried no tags and a spot on the package written in code/actually Shorthand so I wouldn’t mix them up with his younger sister’s gifts but then he’d open and rewear all of them!!! We’d keep a few gifts in the trunk of one of our cars that he didn’t know about and one year all gifts which made him very unhappy! So the next year I decided to stay up the entire night and switch all his gifts to what we’d call joke gifts and put his things away for at least a few hours delay. He proceeded to open his gifts to find all the things he’d seen not in the packages but with items instead meant for us or his sister such as Kitchen tools and dish towels, some of his Dad’s woodworking items, girls socks and pink slippers, girly gifts in general, and even a 4 pack of TP. His real gifts were kept in our storage shed in the back of our house which was secure with new fallen snow and to get his gifts he had to personally shovel to the shed to get them. I think that was the last year that he opened his gifts beforehand but I’ll probably never know for sure will I. But that was one Christmas morning that I know he’ll never forget! 😍

    1. Hi Cynthia,
      Thank you for visiting the blog.
      Your son sounds like quite the character!
      I love the way you turned the tables on his snooping!
      The look on his face must have been priceless.
      Thank you so much for sharing the story with us.
      I’m sure everyone here got a chuckle out of it.

      Happy Holidays,

  25. I’ve left the giblets in the turkey too😳 I was sick with the flu and that was a Unforgetable Christmas! Your book sounds like fun to read. Thank you for the chance. Holidays can be hard sometimes.

  26. Hi Donamae!
    Thank you for visiting the blog.
    It seems I’m not alone when it come to the giblet bag. I wish I could say it’s only happened once to me!
    I can’t imagine anything worse than the flu at Christmas.
    Here’s hoping your holidays are giblet bag-free!
    Happy Holidays,

  27. I used to do Dotcom House for the same reason: I was a sales guy and wanted an accurate number of things I had done, but my experience was that my customers didn’t know what they were buying. That was in the past.

    This is why we used to call these people. When you have two people, you always send them the same information or you just give them a different number of things. If you’ve never made it public, you’re going to have no problem convincing them of it, and they won’t care how you respond. And if that’s your fault, you will get a lot of dissent from customer support.

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