Joyous in the Land of the Groanups

My Christmas present to you:

Joyous in the Land of the Groanups
by Ken Bradshaw

Joyous NativityOnce upon a time there was a land whose inhabitants were called Groanups.  They were called Groanups, because all they did was groan and grumble all day long.

And no wonder, because this was the time of the Groanin’ Empire.  The Groanups were ruled by King Hatred.  He hated everybody.

Living in that land was a lady named Merry.  She was one of the few people there who was happy.  When she learned that she was to be the mother of God’s Son, Merry and her husband, Jovial, were full of joy.  When the baby was born, he was such a cheerful baby they decided to call him “Joyous,” at the suggestion of a Messenger of Good News.

Three wise guys came to see the child, and gave him gold, nonsense, and mirth.  But when King Hatred learned about the child, he was angry.  He did not want anyone spreading joy and hope among the Groanups, so he sent some soldiers to find and kill Joyous.  But Jovial took Merry and Joyous away before the soldiers could find them.

When Joyous was a young man, he went all over the kingdom telling the Groanups to turn from their ways to be born again, and to become like little children.  Then they would have sunshine and health in this life and the next.  When he saw Groanups with especially heavy hearts, he would touch them and say, “Lighten up,” and they would be healed.  That’s why he was called “the Light of the World.”  God smiled on His Son and was pleased with him.

But most of the Groanups were not pleased.  They were too set in their ways and did not want to become young and healthy and joyful again.  King Hatred especially did not want anyone to be happy.

So the king and his Groanups seized Joyous and had him whipped.  They put thorns on his head and called him the clown of thorns.  Then to show the world how cross he was at anyone who would dare to spread joy in his kingdom, King Hatred had Joyous nailed to a cross to die.

But Joyous had the last laugh, for after he died and was buried, he came alive again.  Many Groanups heard this wonderful news and finally believed that Joyous was really the son of God.  They stopped groaning and became as children again.  Then they went and spread the good news that whoever accepted the Spirit of Joyous would have life and laughter everlasting.

Chester’s Christmas

As promised, below is the latest news on Ann Page’s follow-up ebooks to Maggie’s Christmas Ride. Follow the links for free previews.

ChestersWishList_COVERChestersVisit_COVERChester’s Christmas List Chester is torn between finishing his Christmas list and helping someone in need.

Chester’s Christmas Visit Chester and Maggie visit Chester’s sick grandpa to spread holiday cheer, but things don’t go exactly as planned.

Both eBooks are available at They will be available in paperback in December 2014

For the latest info on Page’s writing projects, go to

Congratulations, Ann!

Elise Parsley Has Arrived!

EliseHyldenElise Parsley. Elise Parsley. Elise Parsley.

I told you I was a name dropper.

Sally Lodge’s awesome Publisher’s Weekly article of December 17, 2013 “From Query to Book Deal in 72 Hours: Debut Author Elise Parsley” will explain why I’m babbling.

Every once in a while we are blessed to journey with a superstar and live vicariously through his or her success.  Elise has been that traveling companion for me and lots of MN writers.  Yet, never once has she left us behind, choking in her jet stream. Not when she realized how artistically challenged the majority of us are. Not when she was told by an editor that she had a breakout character and to find an agent right away. And not when she got her three book deal and didn’t need our feedback anymore. She’s bringing us along by her side, where we can enjoy the view, too.

Elise is teaching us what it’s like to be discovered. And how to handle it with grace, wit, and humility. She won’t brag about herself, so we, her fans, have to do it for her. Her agent, Steven Malk tweeted:

Honored to have been part of this quintessential dream publishing story. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer author:…

Well said–by someone who knows a little about success. And how to handle it with grace, wit, and humility. Talk about a dream team …

Elise Parsley. Elise Parsley. Elise Parsley.

Sorry. I can’t help myself. Once you meet her, you’ll be shouting her name, too.


Maggie’s Christmas Ride is the perfect seasonal gift idea for the young picture book enthusiasts in your life. Plus, if you live in the Twin Cities area, you can meet Ann Page,  the author and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies.

MAGGIESCHRISTMASRIDEThis book is just the beginning. Watch for more news about Ann in the near future.

Congratulations to her on this debut hit.

Pinching Christmas Pennies II

Installment #2 on how to spend wisely so we can give better this Christmas.


If you have gift certificates or coupons that have expiration dates, try them anyway. I tossed $30 worth of Chamber of Commerce “cash” because they’d expired. Later I learned they could be updated. In fact, now it’s unlawful in some states for gift certificate issuers to enforce expirations.

Expired Holiday Gas Station coupons from Cub can still be used at certain gas stations. Just ask. (The Holiday Gas Station in Inver Grove Heights, MNtakes them, in case you’re in the neighborhood.)

Also, food expiration dates may cause you to throw away perfectly good products.


Vacation by Owner and Home Away may offer cheaper alternatives for family getaways because you can prepare your meals and eat in. However, take photographic inventory of damage to rental property and send it to the owners before you move in.

The owner of a summer rental threatened to keep our deposit because the housekeeper reported a hole in a bedroom wall. Since I couldn’t say for sure that no one in our party did it, I asked the owner to ask the previous renters if they saw it when they stayed. Luckily, they had and we saved $75.

The aforementioned example applies to any rental item. Recently we rented a car that had small dents in it. We snapped pictures and asked the rental car attendant to record the dents. Only then did we feel comfortable driving out of the parking lot.


We’ve been overcharged on our telephone bills more than once. It’s a hassle to get overcharges reversed, but it’s worth your time.


We earn enough travel reward points through our credit card to pay for the bulk of our travel. We pay for everything with it to build up points. We’d even pay our mortgage with it if our mortgage company would allow it. Then we automatically pay the balance each month with our checking account.

Disclaimer: If you can’t pay your balance in full each month, this is a BAD IDEA for you. In fact, if this is the case, you should not have any credit card. Pay cash for a shredder and destroy all plastic!

The rest of you, be smart with your rewards. Redeem your points for travel only. Don’t use them to buy the advertised products like that overpriced glow in the dark alarm clock that sings “Yankee Doodle Dandy”.


Buying event tickets online will cost you much more in tax and shipping. Plus they charge per item, so if you purchase more than one ticket it will cost significantly more. Also, many metropolitan theaters offer rush tickets, where unsold event tickets* are available at the box office half an hour before show time at a reduced price. A friend bought rush tickets for her daughters for Wicked for $25 each. I felt stupid standing in line with my $87 Les Miserable e-tickets. And, I think they got better seats.

*Have an alternative plan in case of a sold-out performance. Sometimes this offer is limited to students and educators. Do your research ahead of time.


Finally, when the checkout person asks if you want the extended warranty on the item, just say “no”. Here’s why:

Happy giving!

Pinching Christmas Pennies

Most writers and artists live modestly to do what they love best. Unless you’ve written a New York Times Best Seller or inherited a fortune from Grandpa, you probably have to pinch your pennies if you want to be generous this Christmas. Here are some tips to make Abe Lincoln say “uncle”.


Save significant moolah by not drinking your income (and calories). Enjoy that Quadriginoctuple Frap; that shaken, not stirred martini; and that Masala chai tea  when you’re “discovered”. This will decrease your fitness gym and dental hygiene expenses, too.


Reusable water bottles save money and the environment. Refill as needed.

Last time we accidentally ordered fajitas for two. It will feed my husband and I four times over. We’ve saved meal-size servings in the freezer so we don’t overdose on Mexican cuisine. 


When you eat out, ask for the to-go cartons. Luckily, I have a spouse who likes most of the same meals I like, so we often share restaurant meals. The best deal is fajitas. We usually end up with enough food to feed us twice or more at home after the initial meal.

Vegetarian? Try the tofujitas.


Stay clear of lottery tickets and slot machines. Because the odds are so poor, my economic major son calls them a tax on stupid people. Besides, if you won, you’d go crazy and die penniless and embarrassed like most big money winners do.

Note that this gambling warning comes from someone determined to get her books published. My odds aren’t so hot either. But, writing’s more fun than scratching ticket stubs.


For instance: resist certificates. Chances are you’ll be required to go to a restaurant you never intended to visit, spend more than you expected, and when the check comes the waiter will say, “I’m sorry, we don’t accept those.” Then you’ll go to the website and they’ll offer to make it right by requiring you to go to another restaurant you never intended to visit …


Resist gift card purchases–period. They’re slippery little buggers. Unless you want your certificate, your spare change, and your remote control to enjoy each other’s company in the recesses of your couch cushions. Also, landfills are full of unused gift certificates hastily tossed by OCD people like me who can’t stand wrapping paper laying all over. We have a $35 certificate in a Fort Meyers, Florida landfill, if anyone wants to look for it.

Also, we’ve been burnt more than once buying gift cards from restaurants that are now out of business. Ouch!

Disclaimer: Okay, gift cards are a too-convenient habit–even though I know they’re a bad deal. I must confess, I bought movie theater gift cards last week. SAVING MR. BANKS isn’t in theaters until December 20. My KEM Christmas party was last Friday. What could I do?

Amendment: If you must buy a gift card, ask your gift receiver it in their purse or wallet before you throw away the gift wrap.

Anyway, if you want more advice from a hypocrite, watch for “Pinching Pennies II” in next week’s blog post.

May your days be filled with work you want to do,
not work you have to do.