Sunday 10 December 2017

Poppies for Christmas ♥ Blog Tour! ♥ Plus Interview

Poppies for Christmas 

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.

Poppies for Christmas by Stacy Renée Keywell

Publication Date:  November 16, 2016
Publisher:  Soul Mate Publishing, LLC

Kindle Edition £3.99 or Free for Kindle Unlimited Readers, 265 pages

Link to Goodreads:

Purchase Links:

BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Excerpt 1:
            “Dexx!” Denver ran across the floor to greet me. “You clean up nice.” She playfully punched me in the arm.
            She looked even more stunning than before, as if that was possible for anyone outside the Davies family. She had changed into a black, silky blouse, and some tight, sequined black leggings. A simple diamond necklace replaced the pearls. Her freshly flat-ironed hair glistened, and hung long down her dainty back.
            “Hey, beautiful,” I greeted her, throwing a bit of swagger her way, as my confidence slowly crept back in once the food charged up my system.
            Denver jumped, a delicate finch, excited by my compliment.
            “Follow me. We’re going to hang out in the family room, eat some appetizers before dinner, and the rest of the festivities.” Her eyes sparkled as she spoke. “Tonight it’s totes casual, just the few of us doing a little decorating, eating a bunch of goodies,” her voice sang out every word.
            “Sounds fantastic.”
            Denver gripped my hand. I let her guide me across the smooth floor. Dropping my fingers, she ran ahead to the entryway of the family room. I walked in and stood under the mistletoe. I took another bite of sausage when… I saw…her!
             I inhaled deep. A flake from the pastry got caught in my throat. I let out a harsh cough. My eyes watered. The crust popped out, and dangled from my lip. Through my tears, I cast my eyes on my lovely muse, the magnificent Poppy.
            Using my arm, I wiped the gooey dough off my lip, and brushed off the crumbs. How could I have forgotten about Poppy? With all of the excitement geared around Denver, my mind lapsed. It drifted away from my Poppy. But, as fast as a roller coaster screeches to a halt, my neck whiplashed. My brain bounced back to my main mission at the first sight of her.
            Poppy wore a cream sweater accented with a red bow covered in red flowers. Her pouty lips matched the red ribbon. Her thick hair was tied back in a red band, and cascaded down her shoulder.
            An extremely handsome boy gripped both of her small hands in his. He caressed her knuckles with his thumbs. As his head turned, his features dazzled. He looked like he had sprung off a polished poster. An unreal creature from a print ad which came to life in the middle of the room, an anomaly in an otherwise ordinary world. I recognized Declan right away. Flawless skin, dark hair, and a smolder that would knock most girls dead.
            My heart thumped loudly in my ears. Denver grabbed some snacks. She exchanged words with her brother, but I didn’t understand anything they said. The blood pumped through my body, banging around with too much cacophony. Denver garbled something in my ear and laughed.
            “What?” I asked.
            Noise echoed around the room. I was still too shocked by Poppy’s presence to move or make sense of her words.
            Poppy beamed at Declan. She patted his hand affectingly, and rose off a nearby chair. She moved toward me. My body stiffened. The world moved in slow motion. She crept closer and closer. She got a few steps away from me. Her smile melted into a pinched frown. Her eyes narrowed. She didn’t look as happy to see me as I was to see her. She finally reached me under the mistletoe, and whispered in my ear.
            “What are you doing here?” She sounded pissed off, opposite of her normally chipper disposition.
            “Why, I was invited, just like you,” I responded sweetly, ignoring her obvious annoyance with me.
            “Are you following me or something? I don’t get it. Why did you come here for Christmas?”
            “I thought it might be a nice surprise. So, are you surprised, Poppy? Are you surprised to see me?” I asked eagerly.      
 Excerpt 2:

            We stood toe to toe in another awkward silence. Guests moved around us, and disappeared. Time stood still.
            “Um,” Denver cleared her throat, and shook her long hair. “Let’s bundle up. Grab your coat, hat, and gloves. We are going back outside.”
            Her eyes sparkled. The departure of her cantankerous relatives, and my pep talk revived her zest.
            After layering on the warm clothing, Denver led me out the back entrance. Paper bags populated either side of a shoveled pathway. Someone had cut out decorative holes in each bag, resembling snowflakes, turning the sacks into lanterns. Candles were placed inside the bags which lit up a long trail. The flames flickered, and glowed yellow. The trail filled with a yummy, vanilla scent. The candles created a festive yet eerie atmosphere, a happy nightmare.
            Denver and I stood outside alone in the blustery winter night. The wind prickled my nose. A gust of white flakes swirled around Denver. The snow bowed down around her, honoring her as if she were an ice queen.
            At the foot of the path was a basket. Denver picked out two long objects. She dipped them into one of the glowing bags, and pulled them out with tiny flames. She handed one to me. It was a long, white candle stuck in a plastic holder to catch the wax. A red and green plastic poinsettia plant with red berries, surrounded the candle. The bouquet had that nice, waxy, nostalgic fake flower smell, reminiscent of shopping in the craft department with my mother as a child. It brought me back home to my childhood. A bout of sadness enveloped me. I momentarily missed my family, whom I left for this mysterious adventure.
            Denver playfully knocked into me with her elbow. She snapped me out of my homesick state. Guided by the flickering lights, we began walking down the snow covered path. We passed the snow hill, and entered the forested area. An animal howled from a distance. The dark trees surrounded us in the woods. The sound took Denver’s breath away, and startled her. She gulped, let out an eek, and bumped into me again.
            “Oops.” She jumped.
            We both laughed.
            “I’ll protect you.”
            “I’m not afraid,” she defended herself.
            “I am,” I said.
            We laughed again.
            We wandered to an opening near the lake. A crowd of people gathered. They all held the candlelit poinsettia bouquets. We joined them. Debbie and Dereck nodded. The crowd started singing Silent Night. The warm cheerful voices grew in volume. The carolers began to walk around the property, arm in arm. They embraced their candles to light the way.
            Denver chanted the words in a soft, dreamy tone. Her voice echoed across the lake. It took my breath away. We walked arm in arm. Silent Night turned into Winter Wonderland. At some point, I stopped singing. My mouth gaped open as I listened.
            “What?” Denver asked.
            The two of us stopped. The rest of the crowd moved on, in song, without us.
            “I guess…I guess I didn’t realize you had such a beautiful singing voice.”
            “I don’t.” Denver blushed.
            “Not true at all! You do have an amazing voice, you really do. I should have you sing for me some time so I can record it, and sample it over my mixes.”
            “Seriously? Honestly, Dexx? Do you really mean it?”
            “Yes! Why are you so surprised?”

Book Review:

Poppies for Christmas is a unique read. This is a love triangle story only with more corners. The characters are all intertwined and have their own agendas. The characters bare their emotions good/bad to the reader. The author has given the characters flaws and I got the impression the characters aren't supposed to be loveable. It reminded me of the way the characters from the TV show Girls works, but this is a totally different storyline. All the characters are quirky.

Poppy is dating Declan (The Model),
Lenn (The Artist) wants to date Dexx,
Dexx (The DJ) wishes he was dating Poppy, and
Denver (Declan's sister) is interested in Dexx.

Dexx is invited to spend Christmas with the Davies family as Denver's guest. He accepts in the hope of getting close to Poppy, but she already has a boyfriend.

Dexx's thinks Declan has it all. The gorgeous girlfriend, the lavish family home and the luxury life. When they meet Dexx has already put Declan on a high pedestal and he needs a few minutes to recover.

Denver is super excited to have her own friend over for Christmas. She feels like she lives in the shadow of her brother and wants her own story. She wants to get to know Dexx and have someone who is truly hers.

Declan has mild asperger's and a stutter. He wants to be independent. He really cares for his girlfriend and hopes she feels the same way.

Lenn is the opening number and only has a small part in this tale.

The synopsis to this book is accurate, but doesn't make sense until about 40% and I found this really confusing. I'm glad I stuck with the book. However I think something needs a little tweak.

The ending is perfect and I enjoyed this book once I got into it. 3.5 stars out of 5.

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review* 

Question One: What was your inspiration behind Poppies for Christmas?

My inspiration for Poppies for Christmas is my own life. Living with Autism and its effects on a daily basis. Observing how misunderstood we all are, especially during those young adult years. These are things I see firsthand, every day, in my professional life and my home life. There are so many characters in our own lives that we are blind to. We don’t see who they really are on the inside. Inside each person is great beauty and great struggle. Each person must live with this duality on a daily basis. I wanted to bring a story to life that combined all of those conflicting elements with a sweet Christmas tale. Hopefully the great resolve topped with sugar and icing is a rewarding baked treat at the end of an emotional story.

Question Two: Who was your favourite character and why?

As much as I love Poppy, since she is the sweet, whimsical center piece of the novel, I really care deeply for Declan. I am his cheerleader. I want to see him succeed beyond anyone’s expectations. I have seen it first hand, the miracle. Some people are constantly brought down with doubt. Their abilities or disabilities questioned. If you think his character is painted with too much fantasy and fiction, come over to my house for the day. Come see how unexpected people can amaze you, and make you believe that anything is possible. He is strong, and can accomplish any goal he sets his mind on and more. With as much as he faces, Declan is very real to me, and continues to live and succeed against all odds.

Question Three: Did your book turn out the way you expected?

Yes. I always have a thousand ideas in my mind for books. Then, I am surprised which one I pick to write. I was not quite on the track to write Poppies for Christmas, but once I started, I could not stop. I wrote it for my daughters, and it turned out exactly as planned.

Question Four: Is there part of you, the author in Poppies for Christmas?

I always struggle with people who say the writer should not be part of the story, and a writer should not see themselves as a character, or write themselves in the book. For me, every character is a part of me. Love them or hate them, they are like my children, all different, all unique, but all a part of me. The book is a complete piece of fiction, but I am the book, and it is great part of my life. Although, I have never been to the Davies estate, and will probably always wonder what it is like to be a guest at their home. That part was simply a fantasy.

Question Five: All of your characters have likeable and unlikeable qualities. Was this what you were aiming for and why did you choose to make them this way.

Yes! It was exactly what I was aiming for. I enjoy it when a reader gets my intentions. It is a very emotional story, and we all have likable and unlikeable qualities. I wanted the reader to struggle with each character, even have a love hate relationship with them, only to realize we all have such qualities, and that deep down these are all beautiful people who share the same struggles. They yearn for love, self-confidence, acceptance, and understanding. That is why the book promotes love without labels, so we can look past those surface characteristics and get to know people for who they really are. I also
wanted the reader to see that people are not always who they are seem. Their public personal is different than their private and often true self. On the inside we are all the same, someone who deserves love and understanding.

Question Six: What can we expect next?

I am working on another novel. The characters are not young adults. This time I am going for more of an adult themed chick lit/ women’s lit novel. It is a story about relationships, and the yearning for good friendships. This love story is with part fantasy, and part reality. It is a topsy-turvy Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland inspired tale with whimsy, heartache, and wonder.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. :)

Thank you very much for including me. I really appreciate it! Have a happy holiday!


Author Stacy Renée Keywell lives a life of fabulous clichés. She enjoys asking rhetorical questions, and speaking redundantly. Stacy works hard at telling bad jokes, dancing oddly yet awesomely, 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. 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.

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  1. Thanks for the interview and the blog post!

  2. This sounds like a great book! I love a good romance!