Broke and it’s Christmas

“I will remind one that it was in fact the Grinch himself who believed that Christmas came in a box.” (

I’m sure I’m not the only one to say, ‘yeah, I’m broke and it’s Christmas.’ Luckily, I’ve been shopping throughout the year so my friends and family aren’t going to go without. But what about me and my partner? We decided not to exchange gifts. But I still want a wonderful Christmas. So I’ve put together some inexpensive Christmas ideas.

“My mum didn’t believe me when I told her I wasn’t doing Christmas this year. She seemed completely unaware that just five minutes previously I’d told her that my boyfriend is thousands of pounds in debt on his credit card. As far as I’m concerned, until he’s paid that off, we’re not in a position to be throwing money at 3-for-2 gift sets in Boots. And we’re not alone in cutting back this year – ONS figures show that households in the UK have been restraining their Christmas spending since 2008.” (

  1. Agree on a price limit for buying gifts
  2. Make Homemade Mistletoe (
  3. Decorate the house with vases filled with chocolates or candy canes in addition to/ or instead of flowers for the holiday instead of buying buckets of Christmas decorations for your house.
  4. Instead of buying a tree, take a massive roll of paper and draw a tree together with decorations, a star, and the works.
  5. Have a tree but no decorations? Decorate the tree with pictures you’ve collected throughout the year.
  6. Need a game idea? Do a Homemade Christmas Eve Scavenger Hunt!
  7. Everyone write down a wish or desire on a piece of paper for the New Year and hang it on the tree to come true.
  8. Make your own apple cider
  9. Read poetry or Christmas stories together
  10. Make a play together: write the script, practice scenes, and perform in the evening in front of the Christmas tree
  11. Invite friends and family to a formal Christmas tea party hosted at your house
  12. Agree on a cookie exchange instead of gifts
  13. Make homemade calendars instead of buying gifts
  14. Make a recipe book instead of buying gifts
  15. Write letters to each other instead of buying gifts
  16. Do a Secret Santa with your family. It’s affordable, fun, and won’t break anyone this Christmas.
  17. Buy plain ornaments and make them your own, decorating them with markers, glitter, and such for gift ideas
  18. Instead of buying a star for the top of the tree? Make one! ([pageGallery]/0/)

“I don’t love Christmas shopping, or the overconsumption, frenzied malls, consumer debt, environmental waste, wasted time wrapping, and over-accumulation of needless stuff that goes with it.” (

          Don’t try to make Christmas ‘perfect.’ Take the pressure off yourself and relax. If you’re worried about the debt after Christmas and can’t afford gifts, the people who love you will understand. If you’re really worried about it, start putting money aside throughout the year for the Christmas season instead of having to come up with all those funds all in a few weeks. I tried to put cash away, but that didn’t work for me. I couldn’t seem to keep it in the Christmas Fund. So I started buying gifts throughout the year for friends and family. By the time December hit, I’d no need to go back to the mall or crowded stores.

Personally, I prefer experiences to gifts. I’d rather see a play Christmas Eve, or roast marshmallows over an open fire. I’d rather head to New York or spend Christmas at Niagara on the Lake (if I’ve had a good income year). This year, with the pressure of gifts taken off, I’m planning on spending time with the people I love. This December is like any other month to my wallet, and I don’t mind that at all. With me and my partner not exchanging gifts, we can focus on other ways to make a wonderful Christmas (which is a lot more joyous than fighting our way through crowds with empty wallets).

“You don’t know me, but I have to tell you that you shouldn’t be here. You should be saving your money. You should be home eating tuna fish. This financial crisis is so far from over. We are just at the end of the beginning. Please, wrap up that steak in a doggy bag and go home.” (


Interview with International Award Winning Author Viga Boland

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Interview with International Award Winning Author Viga Boland By Ellen Schoeman


The International Award Winning novel, No Tears For My Father, is a true story of incest and abuse to a young girl by her biological father. That young girl being the author herself.

Boland’s second novel, Learning to Love Myself, has been published the same way as No Tears For My Father.

“I’ve enjoyed it enough to recently decide to do my second book exactly the same way as I did the first. I self-published using the same Canadian printing company. From the time I gave them the final pdf, to the day the books arrived, was a week. Can’t complain about that. Quality of my books is excellent, as good as anything a traditional publisher would print. However, it goes without saying that what happened after that (spreading the word, selling the books, arranging book talks, signings, and trying to get them into libraries) is a huge job requiring many hours of work. But the rewards are all mine too and that’s very satisfying,” says Boland.

“I’m all for self-publishing if a writer has the financial means to do so. Online sites like CreateSpace & Lightning Source are attracting lots of indie writers and making it both easy and affordable for them to go it alone. There’s also the option of having a good printing service do it all for you in the same way as those sites do i.e you set your book up according to their required formats and away they go. I like that option better than the others as I was able to find an excellent Canadian company who provided super-fast service and delivered the books to my door. I dealt with Canadian in Canadian dollars and kept the money in Canada. And the price was comparable, perhaps even better than my peers are getting with the American companies cited above.

“There’s also sites like Blurb who have a Canadian division that offer a remarkable way to self-publish using their real-time book editor. Price is a bit higher, but again, quality is tops. So there’s more than enough options for those who can afford to self-publish.”


Q What were your reasons for considering indie-publishing?

A “Primarily my age. Being in my late 60’s, I have no time to wait for months for rejection slips from one publisher after another until I finally locate one who gets it. And even if that one comes along on the first submission, how long before the publisher prints the book and gets it to the stores? A year? Two? I could be dead before anyone buys the first copy. So that was the main reason. The second reason for going it alone was my subject: child sexual abuse/incest is such an important subject one would think a publisher would jump at it. But it’s also a touchy, sensitive subject and my reason for writing the book wasn’t for money or fame: it was to get out an important message, quickly, to those who need to hear it: other victims, so they know they are not alone and that we must speak up for ourselves and shatter the silence.

“The biggest disadvantage is the time needed for self-promotion. If we are busy marketing ourselves, we don’t have time to write. And of course, it’ll be much harder and much less likely that our books can become big sellers if we don’t have the $$ needed to promote them. Also, as I’ve found twice now, that despite several edits and not just by me, there are still mistakes in commas, quotation marks, double words or wrong letters. Really annoying!”


Q What would you say would be your biggest struggle to overcome as a writer?

A “Finding enough time to write when I’m in the mood and being able to work without others constantly interrupting me … mainly my husband these days!

“I write only in the mornings, usually 1-2 hours before breakfast, and unfortunately, not every day as is advised, simply because I don’t always have time or I’m just not in the mood or I didn’t sleep well or whatever. But when I am in the mood and get started, sometimes I can’t stop and just want to go on and on. My other commitments generally don’t allow me that luxury. When I’m writing, it’s stylus to iPad (no more pen to paper) and I just let the words come out. This is not the time to edit, re-think, change a word or phrase … just write. Let it flow. Editing might come days later or chapters later. Stopping to edit lets the inner critic grab hold and creativity stops dead.”
Q What are your goals for your writing career?

A “To just keep on doing whatever the muse tells me to for as long as I can see. And that, sadly, won’t be long as I’m slowly going blind. That is heartbreaking. Waited all my life for this time and now I have trouble seeing the screen and cannot hold a pen without cramping. Hence the stylus and ipad!”

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To learn more about Boland’s books, please visit

About the Interviewer


Ellen Schoeman (pen name E. L. Schoeman) is the author of the award winning YA Historical Romance novel, Isabel. All in all, I’m a YA writer. Apart from writing, I love to travel, ride horses, read too many books, and meet interesting people with interesting stories.

Check out my second novel, Vienna, at:

First Chapter of Choice

Getting my third novel ready to enter the world! My next young adult novel, Choice, is about Dragon Warriors battling a demon apocalypse. Choice is the heroine, and she’s pretty freaking badass.

Apart from getting Choice prepared for the eBook world, I’m also working on getting Vienna ready for print! (

Hope you enjoy the first chapter of Choice (can also be found at



The Survivor



“Everything will be fine,” she told herself. “I will not let you die so easily.”

Her washed-out jeans felt heavy on her legs. The bottoms were soaked from the downpour an hour ago. It wasn’t raining now, but the after-smell reminded her of her father’s advice. ‘Marriage is like a steak dinner,’ he’d said the day he’d come up with a husband for her, a thunderstorm raging on outside. ‘Some people ruin it by adding condiments. Some people overcook it. Some people cook it just right, but add all the wrong sides. And some people throw away everything else and just eat the steak.’

‘What does that have to do with your not giving me a choice? You forgot to add that some people ruin marriage by getting married.’

‘I don’t know what I mean,’ he’d admitted, walking away, as if that settled it. ‘But now I really want a steak.’

She swung her crossbow into her steady hands, knocking open the ratty excuse for a door, and entering through the back of the warehouse. There was a musty, vomit-like, unwashed smell along with the darkness that had to remain darkness because any light would give her away. If the lights went on, things would come out, or things would go running.

Her army-boots were exceptionally silent as she moved, listening for noise above the scurrying of rats. If she was lucky, it wouldn’t be done eating. If she was luckier, it hadn’t started at all, but she wasn’t ever that lucky.

She’d never saved anyone before.

For months she’d been trailing it all over the country. Staying in hotels, buying overpriced gas, sending late night texts to her dad to tell him she’d lived another day. He never responded, not unless she said she was on her way home and he decided he wanted her to pick up something for him. Can you believe that? Not even a, ‘Glad you weren’t eaten, honey. Have a good night.’ All she got was, ‘I’m out of bread. Pick some up on your way through.’

She was trained to move through darkness: to close her eyes and see then what her open eyes missed. Fear wasn’t an option, even when it was there, tasting dry and as if she hadn’t brushed her teeth in days. But there wasn’t room for fear now, listening to the shuffles up ahead as she crept around boxes and shelves, careful with the placement of her feet, the crossbow light in her hands.

It was here.

She fired once before flinging herself to the side, missing its quick attack, her back hitting a light switch. The place lit up, blinding her. Being tackled to the ground sucked. Having the crossbow knocked out of her hands sucked more, but wrestling with the thing on top of her sucked the most. Struggling free, she kicked it in the head, and headed for the crossbow with it laughing behind her.

She turned, ready for the second act.

He looked the same from when she’d seen him last except that his eyes were black with white, upside-down crosses for irises. Blood was running from the sides of his eyes. But he was the same well-set, dark skinned beauty her father set up as her fiancé.

There wasn’t time for horror or shock (because how was she to know her husband-to-be had turned into a crazed monster). There was only time to act and she hoisted another arrow and let it fly. Another, another, and another arrow flew, all avoided by the slightest tips of his head.

“The master of the world commands me to kill.” Her fiancé looked at the limp body of his victim adjacent him. “So I’ll kill.”

“Fate?” He didn’t seem to recognize his name. Was he this mounds-of-crazy when he’d taken her hand, promising he’d protect her, that they would want for nothing? Did it matter? She hadn’t cared then. She didn’t care that she’d have to kill him now. “What’s your master’s name?”

His gaze held her, blood now streaming from the sides of his mouth. “The master,” was his answer.

“How lame,” was hers, and she took the handgun she’d been hiding behind her back and double-tapped him in the chest. He fell back. Scrambling to his feet, he hissed with fury before rushing at her.

“How lame,” was her response, pulling the blade from her belt and cutting off his head, watching as it bounced along the floor until it rolled against the wall. The rest of him twitched to nothing.

She walked over to the head and took it into her left hand. Collecting her equipment, she started away until the body shifted. Freezing before turning back slowly, the victim she’d thought was dead was trying to push itself up.

It was worse than having the creature resurrect itself.

The victim took in the scene. “Is it dead?”

She raised the head in her hand. “You’re a boy?”


Man, he looked like a girl. “But I heard a woman screaming.”

She could make out his blush under the blood and warehouse dirt as he sat there, unsure of what to say.

“Never mind then. It was only you.” She took a few steps back, trying to leave, but unsure how to do so. This was awkward. What was she supposed to say to this guy? “So you’re a doctor, huh?”

“How do you know that?”

Because those creatures are only killing medics . . . “Well . . .” She’d never had a survivor before, ever. She wasn’t trained how to deal with those. She was only trained how to deal with things. “Later.”

“Wait.” He was up and following her. “What’s your name?”

Walking faster, she didn’t turn around. “None of your damn business.”

“Can I call you ‘NYDB’ for short?”

No response.

“I’m Deacon.”

No response.

“You can’t just leave me here!”

“You need a lift or something?”

“I mean, you can’t just expect me to . . .”

“To what?”

“To forget about you, to let you disappear.”

She vaguely looked back at his scrawny form: bony and delicate, with Asian features and wild, frightened eyes. “You look like the type that should be used to it.”

“That’s what I mean. I get the chance to latch on to a crossbow slinging girl like you, I better make sure she’s the one that doesn’t miss out on a guy like me.”

“Not interested in useless luggage.”

“Think about this, really think about it: I’m a medic. You’re badass, don’t get me wrong. But that thing ripped your arm open and you’ve got a bloody lip. I can heal you quicker than you can heal yourself, unless you’ve been to med school . . .”

“I haven’t.”

“Great. I mean, great for me.”

“I know what you meant.”

They were out of the warehouse and he was taking in her lime green hot rod in wonderment. Not that she blamed him. These days it was all horses and horse shit and the roads were a bloody mess.

Tossing the head into the trunk, she got into the car and rolled down the passenger side’s window. He stood on the sidewalk, a blood-soaked forgotten puppy. “What are you waiting for? Get into the fucking car.”

(Choice, first chapter, by E. L. Schoeman. Novel coming soon, 2015!)

That’s So Me

November 22, Isabel’s birthday and the day of the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards Ceremony. I was there with my purse full of business cards and book stubs. I even had the dress. And I was ready to introduce myself. However, going swimming an hour or so before the ceremony and getting stun by a jellyfish was something I was not prepared for lol I’ll blame the evening on that. But regardless, I felt very shy. I was very shy. I also tripped walking up the stage, but luckily I didn’t fall lol



Welcoming Vienna


Vienna is the story of a young princess who is forced to find a husband. Setting a task for her suitors, she declares that whoever brings her the diamond that best suits her will win her hand. Time goes by, and no one can see through her task. Until, one day, a warlock comes to her with something other than a diamond. Leading to curses, ghosts, and the adventure of a lifetime. Vienna learns what love is and what she’s made of.

Vienna is a fast-paced and action-packed young adult novel which I’m hoping will not only tempt eager readers, but also readers that don’t know how awesome books are yet.

When discussing this novel recently with a reader, I said something that was very true. I said that I wrote this book for a ‘nine-year-ago-me.’ When I was young, though books were always a dominate thing in my life, I wasn’t interested in reading. In fact, I didn’t read an entire novel until I was in high school.

Vienna is full of dialogue. It lacks lengthy paragraphs (something I would generally skip when reading in my teens). I won’t deny that this novel is directed toward young females and is full of clear messages driven by Vienna’s independence. Although Vienna is a bit hard-headed, she faces the situations and difficulties within the novel with strength.

To start, more about Vienna can be found here:

But in about a week or so, it will be available at Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and the works. And in 2015 the story will be available in print, which I’m very excited about. (There’s also a teaser for my third novel, Choice, soon to come in 2015!).

author photo

Vienna is E. L. Schoeman’s second novel. My debut novel, Isabel, is an award winning Historical Romance. All in all, I would say I write for a young adult audience. Apart from writing, I am an equestrian, a daydreamer, an avid reader, and a work-a-holic. When I’m not working, I’m spending my time with my very own prince charming.

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Isabel

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“Once upon a time, there was an irresistible girl who stole all our hearts…”

Back coverbook cover

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Isabel

1. I wanted to write about a girl that was completely and utterly destroyed.

2. All the chapter titles connect.

(First) Prologue Hands of Fate
(Last) Chapter Fifty-Nine His Hands of Fate
Chapter One The Beginning of
Chapter Fifty-Eight The Beginning of
Chapter Two Their Hearts
Chapter Fifty-Seven Their Hearts

3. The first draft of Isabel was selected for publication with the promise that I ‘turn down the flare.’ (I like long, flowery, poetic sentences and paragraphs . . .)

4. The villain was meant to live. The very last chapter was never supposed to exist. The novel was meant to end at Isabel’s hanging.

5. When first imagined, Alex was just a boy instead of the agent of fate, knower of all, and demonic presence that he turned out to be.

6. Mathew and Jacob were based on real people

7. There’s more than one supernatural character in the book

8. IUniverse was determined that I should change the ending completely. I didn’t obey.

9. I wrote ‘meetings’ with my characters in my journals throughout writing the end chapters of the book because I didn’t want the story to end – I didn’t want it to end how it needed to end.

10. The novel’s birthday is November 22!

No Tabs

When new to learning how to format eBooks properly, my advice is to take it one day at a time else you will go insane. Myself, I am learning this. I never would have imaged how much work is involved. Can’t I just write it, upload it, and BOOM it’s an eBook?

The answer is no.

One of the things that’s tricky when formatting eBooks is saying no to tabs. I love the tab button. I use it every day, all the time. Now I learn that I have to get rid of all my tabs in order to format my eBook.


Luckily for me, Vienna isn’t overly lengthy (but it’s still long enough). So how to get rid of all those tabs without it taking forever?

My new best friend: I press the Ctrl key and H key together.

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In the ‘Find What’ type ^t (for tabs) and leave the ‘Replace With’ blank. I click on ‘Replace All’ with my mouse, and BOOM no more tabs. (Although, do a quick check over your manuscript to make sure all the tabs got the boot)

Next I am going to select the entire text (or what I want indented).

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‘Page Layout’
‘First Line’ 1.27cm (However, I indented 1.25cm for Vienna)

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And behold, it’s like your tabs never left! (If this way doesn’t work for you, don’t worry, there’s more than one way to get rid of tabs).