BLURB – The Journey of Joseph Winter
A Christmas fairy tale for all ages!
The Journey of Joseph Winter is a heartwarming holiday story in the tradition of It’s a Wonderful Life and A Miracle on 34th Street.
Joseph Winter is a good and gentle man, but he carries with him the pain and regret of a childhood mistake.
When a package mysteriously arrives on his doorstep, he is invited on a trek that defies logic.
Traveling far from his quaint home in St. Paul into the snowy landscapes of the Arctic, the journey takes him in search of the one man who may be able to help him find peace—Santa Claus.
The Kindle edition will be available for $0.99 between 11/23/15 and 11/29/15.
The Kindle edition is also available in the Kindle Unlimited program, as well as being available for a “free borrow” if you are a member of Amazon Prime.
By joining my mailing list/newsletter, readers are automatically entered to win one of ten (10) signed and personalized paperback copies of The Journey of Joseph Winter. Winners will be notified via e-mail in late December 2015.
Let’s start with a brief author interview…
How did you come up with your title? The book was originally written as a short story for my family back in 2002, right after my first nephew was born. I bound it myself—horribly, mind you…I’m not very good at crafts—and gave a copy to each of them as a Christmas gift. At the time, it was written in first person as a diary, and it was simply entitled, The Journal of Joseph Winter, with Joseph detailing his journey in his own words.
When I came back to the story in 2013 and decided to expand on the idea, it was clear the first person narrative wasn’t going to work in the expanded form, so using “Journal” in the title didn’t fit—but “Journey” did. And it gave potential readers an idea of the scope. And I liked the sound of it!
What was your favorite scene in this book? If I had to choose, I’d say the dinner scene with Max in the dining car. You begin to see Joseph changing, and how much of Max he truly admires. It was a nice little scene to write. I found myself transported into that train car with them both, sitting at the table and witnessing this wonderful interaction. It was really magical writing that.
What in particular made you write this book? As I discuss in the Author’s Message at the end of the book, I wanted to capture the magic of the large family Christmases from my youth. The adults would share stories of the old days, and you could tell that it made them incredibly happy to relive those moments, and remember those that were no longer with us. That’s what I wanted to capture.
Do you have a favorite character and why? It’s probably no surprise that I felt the strongest connection with Max. Most people I have heard from have the same reaction. All the characters are me, in some way, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. But Max is the one I couldn’t get out of my head during the creative process while expanding the story.
You might be surprised to know that Max didn’t exist in the first draft. He grew out of the expanded story. I think he’s the one who, deep down in my soul, pulled me back to the story and told me it wasn’t finished.
What are you currently working on for your next book? Novel number two is well underway, and I’m expecting it to be complete in Spring 2016. I’ll be ready to discuss more about it soon, but for now I’ll just say this—I grew up in the 70’s, and I would love to be able to go back and visit that time through the eyes of a child. The innocence of childhood, and those moments in our lives that help to shape us into the adults we become—those are powerful things.
Just sign up for my newsletter to get updates on the progress, and to keep in touch. I love hearing from readers who have enjoyed my stories.
And thank you so much for taking time to talk today!
EXCERPT – The Journey of Joseph Winter
Christmas Eve, 1974
Heavy snowflakes left streaks of white hanging in the cold air, like streamers from a holiday parade. The Christmas snow the weathermen had predicted all week held them good on their promise.
The gray sky was visible through the stark trees as Geraldine looked out the front window at the cars pulling into the driveway.
“They’re here, sweetie,” her husband said. Tom walked up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders, then rested his cheek against the side of her head. “It’s going to be perfect. Don’t worry.”
Geraldine turned her head to look at him. He still had that glowing smile she’d fallen in love with so many years ago. Her uneasiness faded, and the warmth of his love spread through her.
“I’ve missed him, Tom,” she said.
He looked into her eyes. “Have I told you lately how much I love you?”
“Every day.” She raised her hands to her cheeks; he could still make her blush. “How you can still make me feel like a schoolgirl, I’ll never know.”
“It’s one of my many gifts.” Tom leaned in and kissed her forehead, and she rested her head on his chest as they watched the scene outside.
Their grandchildren spilled out of the backseats of three cars like colored jellybeans pouring out of a jar. Arms stuffed into heavy winter coats flailed about as the children tried to balance themselves in the strong wind and slippery snow. Footsteps from tiny booted feet punched dark holes in the snow as the children ran up the sidewalk to the front door.
The doorbell rang.
Tom went to the door as Geraldine walked over to the mantel and retrieved a small leather-bound journal from its resting place.
“I miss you, Joey,” she said softly, and squeezed the book to her chest.
The house erupted with the sounds of little voices as she walked to greet her guests.
“Grampa! Gramma! Merry Christmas!” The little ones ran to Geraldine’s arms as she appeared in the foyer, their wet shoes squeaking on the hardwood floors.
“Kids, remember to take your boots off first,” Jennifer said. “I’m sorry, Mom. You know how kids are.”
“It’s all right, honey. It’s just a little snow.” Geraldine held the children close and gave each one their own hug.
The family had grown over the years, which was very apparent when they were all together in one place at the same time. Their house fairly burst at its seams.
Her three daughters now had husbands and children of their own. Adam was the oldest of the grandchildren at ten, followed by the girls: Lacie, Maggie, Rachel, Harper, and baby Savana, ranging in age from eight to just barely a year.
The house felt full of life. And crowded.
Jennifer, her eldest daughter, came over and gave Geraldine a hug. “Merry Christmas, Mom,” she said. “Are you okay? You look a little distracted.”
“I’m fine, honey. I’ve just been busy making sure everything will be ready for dinner.”
“Hi, Mom. Merry Christmas!” Heather knelt down to help her children out of their winter gear.
“Merry Christmas, honey,” Geraldine said, her heart filled with love for her girls. “And you too, Angela.”
“Thanks, Mom. You too.” Angela, the youngest, flashed her a smile as she unbundled the baby.
Tom exchanged quick greetings with his sons-in-law, then ruffled Adam’s hair as he ran past. “All of the rooms are made up,” he said. “Why don’t you all go ahead and get settled. We’ll finish getting dinner ready.”
Like the calm after a storm, they were gone, up the stairs and unpacking in their bedrooms. Wet shoes, mittens, scarves, and jackets were scattered in the foyer, like remnants of a blustery Minnesota blizzard.
Geraldine stood in the living room archway, lost in her memories and the sound of the wind as it blew past the front door. It whistled like a train leaving its station. Her eyes twinkled.
With the weak daylight now all but gone, the multicolored lights on the tree were much more vivid, casting a gentle rainbow over the room.
She walked to the mantel and put the book back in its place.
“This is it,” she said softly to herself. “This is the year.”
John Anthony was born and raised in West Saint Paul, Minnesota. He grew up being tortured by three younger sisters, who have grown to be three of his best friends. They have given him three brothers-in-law, five beautiful nieces, and two incredible nephews.
He is a licensed massage therapist with his own practice in Saint Paul, and lives with his partner of five years in West Saint Paul.
The Journey of Joseph Winter is his first published work.