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Congratulations to Jenny LM who won Susanne Dietze's My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho Prize pack!



Monday, November 10, 2014

Release Party: Nutcracker Christmas by Jennifer AlLee

By Niki Turner

One of my fondest Christmas memories was the year my family made the trek over the Continental Divide to Denver to see the Colorado Ballet perform The Nutcracker. 


As a budding ballerina (at that time I was just a few years away from going en pointe) it was a magical experience. When I saw that Jennifer AlLee's Christmas Traditions novella was titled Nutcracker Christmas I was instantly intrigued. Today I am honored to introduce Jen's latest release here at Inkwell! 

Pour yourself a few fingers of eggnog (or just add a dollop to your coffee... it's surprisingly effective), pull up a tufted cushion, and join us for a conversation with Jen about Nutcracker Christmas, the sixth in the Christmas Traditions series. 

Jen, what was your inspiration for this story?

The character of Isabella was inspired by my grandmother, Marie, who was a ballet dancer and actually met my grandfather—a Hungarian violinist—on the road. Isabella was also an integral part of my novel, A Wild Goose Chase Christmas, even though the character had passed away at the beginning of the story. I thought this was a perfect way to dig deeper into Isabella's past.

That's the legacy of an influential character, IMO... when the writer needs to expand on his or her story beyond a single title. Now I need to read A Wild Goose Chase Christmas to see Isabella's role! 

Nutcracker Christmas is set in 1945, which is a relatively recent time period. Do you think it’s easier to write about a more recent time in history, or harder, and why?

For me, it's easier. Everything from the clothes to the way people talked, even though it's specific to the time period, it's not as far removed. Also, I've heard family stories about that time and looked through my grandmother's photo albums, so I have a firmer grasp on the period.

Good point, and what a blessing! The WWII generation—the "Greatest Generation"—is leaving us, and it's important that we save, record, and cherish their stories. Very few of us have had the opportunity to hear those family stories direct from the source. I have my grandmother's photo albums and scrapbooks, but they don't always answer all my questions. 

With that said, you address several social issues relevant to the period in Nutcracker Christmas. How do those issues still apply to us today?


One thing is prejudice. This is right after WWII, and because Victor has a Hungarian accent, some people immediately think him to be German, and therefore, the enemy. It's one of those snap judgments that's made before people have all the facts. It's always an issue, because we tend to be predisposed to believe certain things. 

As I live in an area where we are inundated with Hispanic immigrants, I understand that tendency to make snap judgments, about people and the importance of listening to what the Lord has to say about our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

There's another issue, too, but if I go into it now, it will be a spoiler. Guess folks will have to make up their own minds about that! 

Ooh! Always good to give us something to go digging for. I *think* I know what it is, but I'm not going to say anything... God can handle that! 

The Nutcracker is a time-honored Christmas tradition for many people, either seeing the ballet live, watching one of the movies, or just listening to the music. What’s one of your favorite Christmas traditions?

 I have a Christmas stocking that my mom crocheted when I was about a year old. And she made one for my son when he was born. They've been hung up every year since the day she made them. 

Aw! My mother-in-law made stockings for each of her three kids when they were little. The one she made for my hubby has carpenter tools appliqued on it. He grew up to be (after his pastoral role) a carpenter. He's 44 now and she still hangs his stocking every year... makes me weepy.


What Christmas traditions are important to your family, and why?

We're having a giveaway of a Kindle copy of Nutcracker Christmas. Leave your name(dot)email in the comments to enter.

Isabella Brandt lives to dance, but she's spent the last four years in obscurity as part of the corps. Now, she's finally landed a principal role in The Nutcracker. But a handsome Hungarian violinist and a shocking visit from her past may knock this ballerina off her feet and ruin Christmas.


Jennifer AlLee was born in Hollywood, California, and spent her first ten years living above a mortuary one block away from the famous intersection of Hollywood & Vine. Now she lives in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas, which just goes to prove she’s been blessed with a unique life. When she’s not busy spinning tales, she enjoys playing games with friends, attending live theater and movies, and singing at the top of her lungs to whatever happens to be playing on the car radio. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. Her novels include The Pastor’s Wife, The Mother Road, A Wild Goose Chase Christmas, Last Family Standing, and the upcoming Vinnie’s Diner (4/15) from Abingdon Press; Diamond in the Rough, Vanishing Act, and Curtain Call from Whitaker House and co-written with Lisa Karon Richardson; and the novella Comfort and Joy in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Memories from Barbour. 

26 comments:

  1. I absolutely need to read this one as part of my Christmas celebration this year!!!!

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    1. Definitely, Dina! It's a charming story!

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  2. Niki,
    I am not entering the contest.
    Just wanted to say congratulations on your novella release! I really enjoyed the novella.
    Blessings,Tina

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    1. Glad you came by and said hello, Tina! :)

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  3. Congrats, Jen. As you are a gifted writer and I love the Nutcracker ballet, this is a gotta-read for this holiday season.

    Good job, Niki!

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  4. I'd love to win a copy of the book :) dbdempsey98 @ gmail.com (remove spaces)

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    1. Excellent, Becky! Your name is in the proverbial hat. :)

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  5. Im not entering your contest I just want to wish you a terrific, wonderful God blessed day

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    1. And blessings right back at you, Chris! Thank you for visiting our party!

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  6. I am reading it now and I love it! Jen is a fabulous writer.

    Thanks for the post, Niki!

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  7. Stockings have always had an important role in our Christmases but as the family grew, I decided to fill gift sacks and just hang the stockings for decorations. My family loves getting their sacks filled with everything under the sun! My 86 year old daddy's eyes light up when he gets his as well as the rest of the group!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. That's a lovely tradition, Melanie! Thank you for sharing. And your name is in the giveaway drawing, too!

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  8. A lovely interview! I need to read your Christmas book, Jennifer!

    I really enjoyed reading Nutcracker. For those of you who haven't read it, you'll love it!

    Since I married my hubby in 2008, my husband, daughter, and I started our own traditions. We hang stockings, buy a real tree (last year we went to a Christmas tree farm, lots of fun!), we also open one gift on Christmas Eve. Now we are back in SD, we will be joining our friends in their Christmas tradition and spending it with family.

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    1. Stockings seem to be a trend! Thanks for visiting the party, Regina!

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  9. Thanks for the interesting interview, Jennifer and Niki!!

    I enjoyed learning more about you and your writing, Jennifer, and loved "Nutcracker Christmas"!! A heart-warming story with an unusual story line.

    I'm not entering the giveaway, but wanted to read the interview!! Looking forward to reading more of your writing, Jennifer!!

    Shared post!!

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  10. Hello All! It's so much fun reading about everyone's Christmas traditions :)

    Niki, thank you SO much for throwing the release party! Sadly, my mom (the maker of the Christmas stockings) is in the hospital right now. She's been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and is having surgery late this afternoon, so I may not be able to stop in as much as I'd like. But I appreciate you all so much!!!

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    1. Jen, I saw your post on FB. Praying for you both!

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  11. Oh, this sounds great. WWII AND Christmas? I must read this one.:)

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    1. It's a winner, DeAnna! You'll love it.

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  12. Loved this story and attending the Nutcracker Ballet was a tradition we tried to keep with my daughter from the time she was 3 years old and saw her first show in Charleston! We're going to the one at Christopher Newport College this year, the principles are from the Joffrey Ballet!

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  13. I'm getting behind on these novella releases. As I DID read the Wild Goose Chase book and recall some of Jen's references to her grandmother, I'm excited to see she had the opportunity to pull in more of her real family history, and of course, she's a great writer. Congratulations Jen!

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  14. This one sounds great!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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