POPPIES FOR CHRISTMAS
by Stacy Renée Keywell
Genre: YA Romance
A celebration of love without labels. It’s easy to be brave with you by my side!
Popular DJ Dexx finds himself positively smitten by the precociously pristine Poppy Paris. Too bad she’s already taken by an older boy, Declan Davies, a beautiful model with a thriving career, and a perfect family. By a dreamful stroke of chance, Dexx finds himself invited to spend Christmas at the Davies home by a gorgeous girl, granting him the opportunity to pursue the precious Poppy. But in his quest to win her over, he unlocks a world of imperfection and insecurity, where people are picked on for their disabilities, speech, appearance, and eccentricities. For Poppy and her friends, love trumps labels, and everyone deserves a brave friend to stand by their side. What gifts will Dexx discover this Christmas? Will he ultimately find true love, or will he discover something even greater?
You are invited to read a powerful story about living with autism, but not letting it define you, about being bullied, but carrying on with determination and grit, and about having dreams, but not giving up in the face of adversity. Come celebrate something beautiful with Poppies for Christmas.
The Science of Baking
I read somewhere once that cooking is an art. It takes imagination and flare. But baking? Baking is a science. It takes exactitude and precision. It requires patience. It requires dedication. It requires love. A whole lot of love. And well…that’s what I’ve got…love…love for a girl, a special one, one who deserves dedication. So what do I choose to prove my love? I choose baking.
Deep inside my tote, my hand grazed against my faithful sketchbook before I removed it. The metal spirals comforted my fingers as I dragged them across the row of sharp-edged rings. Firmly gripping the book, I flipped it open to a blank page near the middle. I smoothed out the slightly texturized, eggshell white page. I bent down and buried my nose in the crease, inhaling the faint lead pencil scent. It calmed me, readying me to add another chapter to my visual saga.
Spreading my tools around me, hard and soft pencils, a ruler, several firm erasers, and a small metal sharpener, I steadied my hand and cleared my mind, inviting in only the most blissful images of my fantasy. With a soft lead pencil, I constructed an oval blank for the face. Art classes definitely assisted in perfecting the technique, but dedication and talent trumped instruction.
I used the ruler to estimate the proper dimensions. I added eyes, a nose, some crazy-hot lips, all his beautiful features. I gave him expressive brows. I sketched his glossy dark brown hair, shaggy bangs flopping over to the side, covering his ear, exposing that sarcastic, twisted grin on his lips, the same way he looked when he joked around with his friends in the corner of the library during study hall.
A trusty eraser mopped up all of the stray, miscellaneous marks. I blew away a couple gummy shreds before I shaded in his taut jawline. I wiped up the last scattered pieces left behind on the page before I started on adding myself to the portrait. Duplicating the process, I gave myself a hipper, manga-esque look, allowing for a more whimsical likeness of myself.
Poppy and Kit sat at the same long, wooden table, on the opposite side of me. Kit swiped through the pages on her tablet, desperately trying to find the right page number, since she had neglected to tap the bookmark before closing out her chapter the previous night. Nervous oohs and aahs escaped her lips. Poppy, sitting with her legs crossed, jiggled her feet beneath her chair, shaking the table, creating a rattling earthquake under my artwork.
I shot a glare in her direction. “Would you please stop? The both of you! You are driving me crazy, and ruining my picture.”
Poppy and Kit stopped suddenly. They looked at each other, wide-eyed and innocent, two does in the midst of a meadow. Unaware! Clueless! Oblivious!
“I can’t think when you moan that way,” I snapped, addressing Kit. She squirmed underneath her oversized flannel shirt and baggy jeans.
“And, you,” I turned to Poppy. “You are going to smudge my drawing with all of that wild motion going on underneath the table. Can it!”
Their jaws dropped. They both stared at me, wordless.
“Please.” I hugged my journal protectively. Softening my voice, I turned to Poppy and asked her again. “Please?”
“Sorry,” they announced in simulcast, sighing, shrugging their shoulders, lost together in the great woods of their minds.
They looked back down at their own musings. I continued to draw.
In this picture, the two of us relaxed together on a chaise lounge, him with his large, bulbous headphones, and me with my skull and crossbones ear buds. Our eyes drifted in the opposite direction, lids almost closed, in a sleepy trance. My arm draped across his chest until our fingers entwined, intimately. We zoned out to his simpatico beats.
Born with the passion for storytelling, Stacy Renée Keywell spends time stargazing, daydreaming, and creating adventures for her family to conquer. Being an educator for over twenty years, Stacy enjoys studying and sharing her knowledge of culture, philosophy, language, and the humanities. She loves the human spirit, appreciates profound humor, and dreams about the mysteries of the spiritual unknown. Besides following her whimsical dreams, Stacy’s hobbies include singing off tune, dancing oddly yet awesomely, reading as much as possible, and traveling around the globe with gusto. Stacy lives a life of fabulous clichés. Stacy works hard at telling bad joke, and making up amazing new words in hopes that they will one day find their way into the dictionary. She strives to love without labels with her nonprofit movement Project Love Without Labels, which tackles social stigmas and takes on bullying. She vows to bravely stand by the sides of those who need her, especially her two daughters. Stacy, her husband, and her children, live in Michigan in a quaint house in the woods.