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My Books

Sea-Devil: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 1
Sea-Devil: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 1

You never get over your first about your first murder? When a man is murdered in her bookstore the night before her grand opening, island newcomer, Delilah Duffy, makes a name for herself as prime suspect. If Delilah Duffy hopes to create a life on the island, she must navigate through a vicious family feud, shoddy police work and the mistakes of her past. Will Delilah uncover the truth before her past and her present destroy her?

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Luna-Sea: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 2
Luna-Sea: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 2

We're all just one pain away from lunacy. A seaside inn. An elegant party. A black dress. What could go wrong? For Delilah Duffy, just about anything. With her bookstore failing, the last thing she needs is a party or another mystery to solve. With nightmares, anxiety, and panic intensifying, Delilah doesn’t know what’s real and what’s in her head. With everything at risk, Delilah discovers what’s worse… becoming a lunatic or facing one.

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Sea-Crossed: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 3
Sea-Crossed: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 3

Some secrets are kept to be kind. Torture, pain, misery - that’s all someone else wants for her. When a dinner party turns deadly, Sam goes missing, and Delilah realizes she's being watched, the “book queen with a thing for crime scenes” must battle to get her life and love back. Can love and determination save them or will dark secrets ruin her chances for a normal life? With mysterious messages taunting her and a killer eluding her, what lines will she cross to get to the truth?

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Pyra-Sea: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 4
Pyra-Sea: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 4

Everything can change in seconds. Bookstore manager and crime-solver, Delilah Duffy knows that better than anyone. When her Happily Ever After Valentine’s Day Bash ends in fiery destruction, everything she’s worked for burns with it. Pregnant and brokenhearted, Delilah fans the flames of her anger toward what she’s good at: solving crimes. Hot on the trail of an arsonist while her nemesis is on hers, Delilah fights to get her life back. Will she turn ash to treasure before the pyromaniac strikes

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My Vella Story

Water World
Water World

After a tough move with his Mom and sister from his beloved country home, Ethan isn't adjusting well to city life. In trying to escape his problems in this world, he opens another, dropping him and his sister, Abby, into Water World. This trip is no vacation, not with legendary monsters and deadly sea creatures to battle. But teaming up to help the merpeople through their home-related crisis might help Ethan and Abby navigate theirs, if they survive long enough to make it home.

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  • Jessica Sherry

Doing Less for Christmas? Try Doing More

Less is more unless it's Christmas. December marks the season for lavish everything. Gifts, parties, meals, events, and decorations. While it's easy to get overwhelmed with Christmas' over-the-topness, the more you do, the more you inspire the Christmas spirit... if you have the right attitude. It's not about staying busy. Or meeting obligations. It's not a stuff thing.

Christmas is a love thing.

Christmas Heart

More than any other time of year, Christmas is a bold, brilliant, and sometimes extravagant expression of love. The cooking, traveling, gifting, chatting, eating, and decorating show our families and friends what they mean to us and give us warm fuzzies, too.

Take the Christmas tree, for example. It's the loving spirit of Christmas on grand display. Every tree is unique to the home it decorates. And the more lights and ornaments, the better. No one wants a minimalistic Christmas tree. It's a holiday centerpiece that holds meaning for the family.

Christmas trees are big, extravagant, messy, and delightfully special.

Me and Joe’s first Christmas tree together was sparse. We scored it on clearance at Rose’s—a robust six-footer for $50. We decorated it with white lights and cheap decorations from Big Lots and tried vainly to fill it up. Its height and girth made it look more barren, though. And on a tiny budget, there was only so much we could do.

But that tree was a hopeful reflection of our future together.

And each year, we added to it. My inlaws gifted us with an angel tree topper, and that sweet girl graced our tree for over twenty years (it succumbed to old age last year). The Rose’s tree cornered our living room for nearly fifteen years until its needles flaked and a longing for a fancy pre-lit tree won out. Though stringing lights took hours and often fueled frustrations, I don’t think the prelit ones ever looked as good.

Or maybe that’s the nostalgia talking. Hmm.

Still, our tree upgrade showed our family's growth and changed with us.

Like the former Christmas trees lining my parents' front yard. My parents always bought live trees with big balls of burlap holding the roots. It was a work-intensive hassle. But after Christmas, they planted them in the yard. Those trees grew into tall, plump, and happy Christmas reminders that grew with us. Literally.

Can you even buy live Christmas trees with roots anymore?

That every family has their preference and style makes Christmas trees incredibly special. A recent tour through The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher and their Festival of Trees reminded me of the beautiful diversity of options and how fun they can be. One tree featured Japanese cherry blossoms and ornate origami. Another, classic Santas. There was even a Stranger Things tree, and however cool it was to see a tree decorated with cassette tapes, Rubix Cubes, and pics of the cast, I didn’t quite get the connection. Still, they were all gorgeous and fun to explore. They took a little limelight away from the sharks, gators, and sea turtles, but they seemed okay with it. (The otters still received plenty of attention.)

Christmas Tree with Presents

Our Christmas tree has come a long way since those sparse early days. Gifts, mementos, kid-created ornaments, and picture ornaments add up. Space has become an issue, and some ornaments get left behind, especially when some people in the house (grinches) don’t want it to get too cluttered.

Too cluttered? Ha! Impossible! Maybe less is more eleven months of the year, but not at Christmas!

Christmas Tree Angel Ornament

There's always enough space for angelic gems like this!

Each ornament on the tree now stirs a loving memory. You can’t leave memories in the box! And seeing the painted paper plate ornament Abby made when she was three, Ethan’s first-grade nativity ornament, and two baby’s first Christmas ornaments always make me smile. The tree wouldn’t be complete without them. (Thank goodness ornaments for subsequent birthdays aren’t a thing.)

Baby's First Christmas Ornament

My friend Rachel is a Christmas tree artist. Her tree is so gorgeously full that it makes mine look like the spindly twig from Charlie Brown. She collects ornaments and adds more every time they travel. She has hundreds, and her tree centerpiece showcases beauty, love, and family history.

She inspired my love for beach ornaments, and now they get their own tree in my front window. A new tradition. I add to it each year. Last year, a gator ornament, which I found unique and fitting since they’re native to our area. This year, an otter for the new arrivals at the Fort Fisher Aquarium. Otters are so damn cute.

Bet you didn't think I'd squeeze otter pics into a Christmas blog, did you?

Now, it joins the jellyfish, mermaids, crabs, dolphins, sting ray, starfish, and sand dollars already represented. I even have a sand castle (thanks to Rachel).

Filling the gaps in our tree with precious mementos brought me to a simple conclusion. Christmas is about loving extravagantly. Not spending extravagantly (though that often happens). But loving extravagantly. And decorating extravagantly if it brings joy. Decorating, wrapping, baking, shopping, singing, watching, eating, partying, whatever Christmasy things you do—they’re all about spending time together. So, less isn’t more—It’s Christmas! The more, the merrier. That includes ornaments.

And cookies... one batch is never enough. For a funny story about a teenager in the kitchen, read Christmas Cookie Mayhem.

And before you go…

Follow me at BlogLovin'.

What’s your Christmas tree like? Full and festive? Minimal but joyful? Does it have a theme? Share your tree thoughts below. I’d also love any beachy ornament suggestions for next year. I’m sorely lacking in sea birds.

Merry Christmas!

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