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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Joyce DiPastena - Countdown to Christmas 2009

9 Days until Christmas!

(Shanda here: Sorry about the late post- computer issues kept me from posting it before now. It was bound to happen at least once - that's what Murphy's Law says, right?)

Joyce DiPastena is the author of two novels, Loyalty's Web and Illuminations of the Heart, and a short story, An Epiphany Gift for Robin, that was just published in a Christmas short story anthology called Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season.

Joyce's books can be purchased at the following places:

oyalty's Web: www.amazon.com and Deseret Book stores.

Illuminations of the Heart: www.amazon.com, Deseret Book stores, Barnes & Noble (online & in Arizona locations), and Borders.

Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season: www.amazon.com, www.createspace.com, and www.smashwords.com (for e-book versions).

Learn more about Joyce on her website: www.joyce-dipastena.com and her blog: JDP NEWS.

LDSWBR: What favorite holiday traditions do you and your family participate in every year? Will you be starting any new traditions this year?

JOYCE: My sister and I created a fun new Christmas tradition after both our parents passed away in 2000 and 2002. My sister and I are both single, and we always spent the holidays with my parents, so this was our first Christmas with just the two of us. We had previously gone to a "High Tea" (with cocoa instead of tea) at a cute little shop in Gilbert that sadly isn't there anymore. It was one of those years when Christmas fell on a Sunday, so we only had early morning Sacrament Meeting to attend. We were both feeling sad and missing our parents, and I remember as we were driving to Church, my sister said, "When we get home, we should make up our own High Tea." I said, "We can't call it a High Tea on Sunday!" She replied, "Okay, we can call it a High Cocoa instead." We both started giggling, and I said, "No, we should call it a High Kokolorum!" "Hy Kokolorum" was a character in very long poem (called "A Balad of China") that I memorized and recited in the 5th grade and still remember parts of to this day. So when we got home from Church, we had our first "High Kokolorum."

Now every year on Christmas (we have our "big" holiday meal on Christmas Eve), we pull out a pretty three tiered tray. We make miniature sandwiches for the bottom tier, scones with Devonshire cream for the second layer, and a variety of miniature cookies and candies on the top (and smallest) tier. And we pull out some of our mother's fine china tea cups that she'd collected through the years, heat up pots of chocolate, and voila! A High Kokolorum. And while we eat, my sister pulls out our old World Book Childcraft volume of poems and has me recite as much of "A Ballad of China" as I can remember, then prompts me through the passages I've grown a little hazy on until I finish off with a flourish of triumph, "Darling Dilliki Dolliki Dinahm, Niece (I learn) to the Empress of China, Fair (I swear) as the morning of May, And she is my Queen from this very day!"

I must say, I highly recommend High Kokolorums. They are a very fun tradition!

LDSWBR: Joyce, what books are on your Christmas wish list?

JOYCE: Let's see, I have a list on one of my Goodreads bookshelves. Let me hop over there and see what I've listed...

Okay, I'm back! A few of the titles on my wish list are The Host by Stephenie Meyer (no, I still haven't read it yet!); Your Money or Your Life by Neil Cavuto (my favorite Fox News anchor...yes, even over Glenn Beck...sorry Glenn Beck fans!); The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy (Hmm, I'm glad my mother didn't name me Emmuska!); and Haunt's Haven by Joan Sowards.

LDSWBR: What books have you purchased/will you purchase as gifts for loved ones this Christmas?

JOYCE: I'm giving a fried of mine who's a big dog lover the YA novel, Dogsbody, by Diana Wynne Jones because I think it will help her better understand what her dogs are thinking. My sister has asked for a series of books called: G is for the Grand Canyon: an Arizona Alphabet; M is for Mayflower: a Massachusetts Alphabet; and K is for Keystone: A Pennsylvania Alphabet because these are all states that we've visited together (well, Arizona being both our original "home") and she thinks they would make nice momentos. And I'm sending another friend a book on her wish list called, More Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas. Come to think of it, maybe I'll add that book to my own wish list, too! And my brother will be receiving a copy of the new Christmas short story anthology, Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season, which includes my short medieval Christmas story, "An Epiphany Gift for Robin."

LDSWBR: Thank you for sharing with us, Joyce! We wish you and your sister a Happy Christmas!

Do you have a favorite "flavor" of hot chocolate? If so, what is the brand name and flavor? Or do you make your own hot chocolate from scratch? (I love Stephen's Chocolate Mint Truffle mixed with Belgian Dark Chocolate- mmmm!)

Don't forget to nominate your favorite 2009 books by LDS authors for Whitney Awards by December 31! Can't remember what you read? Visit the LDS Publisher blog for a list of books published by LDS authors in 2009.

***Countdown to Christmas Contest***

LDSWBR will hold a drawing on Christmas Day for a $25 eGift Card from Deseret Book, as well as a variety of books being offered by some of the LDS authors that will be featured on the blog. Simply post a thoughtful comment on the Countdown to Christmas author posts to enter. Here are the rules:

  • LDSWBR reserves the right to decide what determines a "thoughtful" comment.
  • Only one comment per person per "Countdown to Christmas" author post will be entered into the drawing. This allows the potential for 24 entries per person at the end of the contest. Feel free to comment more than once per post if you'd like, but only one comment will be accepted as an entry.
  • Contest ends at 12:00 Midnight MST on December 24, 2009. Drawing winners will have until 12:00 Midnight MST on December 31, 2009 to claim their prize. After that time, another name will be drawn to receive the prize.
  • Book prizes can only be shipped within the contiguous United States.
Books that have been generously donated by the author for drawing prizes:
  • Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena
  • Hidden Branch by G.G. Vandagriff
  • Altared Plans by Rebecca Talley
  • A Modest Proposal by Michele Ashman Bell (includes a bonus copy of Michele's Christmas booklet, A Candle in the Window)
  • Her Good Name by Josi Kilpack
  • MISSING by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
  • Famous Family Nights by Anne Bradshaw
  • Love Letters of Joseph and Emma (autographed copy) by Angela Eschler
  • Family Home Evening Adventures by Rebecca Irvine
  • Counting the Cost by Liz Adair
  • Shudder by Jennie Hansen
  • Mormon Mishaps & Mischief by D. N. Giles & C. L. Beck
  • Dawn's Early Light by Laurie (L.C.) Lewis
  • The Fairy Thorn (brand new release!) by Dorothy Keddington
  • Torn Apart (signed copy) by Diony George
  • Pursued: A Maggie McKenzie Mystery by Lynn Gardner
Thank you so much!


  1. Always love to hear from Joyce. She is so entertaining, as are her books!
    Barbara B

  2. I love Joyce's books! And a High Kokolorum...how clever and fun! We love Stephen's hot chocolate too...especially the Dark Belgian chocolate. Yum! Loved the interview. Merry Christmas!

  3. Joyce, I'd take the hot cocoa instead of tea too! :) Love to read and learn more about you. :)

  4. Stephens Mint Truffle is my favorite. I also like Stephens chocolate, and french vanilla.:) I have been wanting to read these books! They look so good!:)

  5. It is so nice to learn a bit about Joyce DiPastena. The high tea and cocoa sounds fun.

  6. I love to read Joyce's books. Thank you for sharing your Christmas traditions.

  7. I loved Loyalty's Web! I don't really drink hot chocolate although I love chocolate candy! I do drink a lot of tea - English Breakfast and Earl Grey are my favorites! I love the idea of High Tea!

  8. I'd love to be entered in your countdown to Christmas book giveaway. Thanks

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

  9. I love her books because they take you back in time witch is not like most other books.

  10. Any of the Stephen's Cocoas are great, but the best hot drink is Oregon Chi tea with a little eggnog. It is the perfect accompaniment to a good book.