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Thursday, December 24, 2009


What's Up With Santa?

Here we are, Christmas Eve. How about some miscellaneous facts about Santa? I hope you find these slightly offbeat items interesting. Then I'll tell you a bit about my upcoming release, DÉJÀ VU.

First, there's the Santa Games held in Sweden where Kris Kringles from around the world compete for the title of World's Best Santa. This is a different event from the Santa race held in Las Vegas. This year's winner of World's Best Santa is Jim Chan, a magician from Hong Kong. Although he doesn't speak English, he wished one and all a Merry Christmas in his native Cantonese. He defeated the other competitors in events such as Present Wrapping, Chimney Climbing, and Porridge Eating.

And continuing the international theme, in Northern Ireland Santa and his elves locked themselves inside their 'grotto' at an East Belfast store and staged a protest sit in. It seems the residents in the surrounding area complained that the music was too loud and sounded too much like Christmas rap. Santa and his elves were hauled out of the store and given a new location across the parking lot where they could make all the noise they wanted. Since a percentage of each 'grotto' admission was donated to charity, the store decided to put the Grinch mode aside and let Santa pump up the volume.

And here at home let's take a look at those staples of the season—the Mall Santa. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone to find out that Santa is big business.

At the amateur end of the spectrum, local Santas rent well-worn suits with less than spectacular cotton beards. These non-professional Santas work for peanuts (or perhaps reindeer feed would be a more appropriate term).

At the professional end are the RBSs (Real Bearded Santas). These men take their role as seriously as any actor and are paid top dollar. There are corporations whose business is to place Santas in malls and other locations all over the country. They provide training at Santa Universities, make sure their RBSs have their beards properly groomed and trimmed, and provide custom tailored Santa suits that can cost upward of $2,000. As I said…big business.

Here are a few things stand-ins for the real Santa need to remember.

Be Jolly. Make sure you always smile and say Ho Ho Ho to everyone, even if you're walking through the mall to go to your car at the end of your shift.

Learn A Few Details About Santa. At the very least, you should be able to name all eight reindeer.

Don't Promise Anything. You could be making a promise that the parents aren't able to keep. Tell the child you'll see what you can do.

Take Plenty Of Breaks. You'll sweat in your Santa suit inside a heated building, your voice will get hoarse, and you'll need plenty of water breaks.

Have An Extra Pair Of Santa Pants. You never can tell when a child will wet your lap.


And just between you and me and whatever Santa might be listening, what could be a better Christmas present (or birthday present or Valentine's Day present or…) than finding Mr. Right? Especially if it happened in the last place you'd expect, at a time of life threatening danger when just doing your job required all your attention with searching for Mr. Right the farthest thing from your mind.

Take a researcher who is hired by a reclusive author of horror novels to dig into the details of a thirty year old disappearance of a newspaper tycoon and his wife. Put her on the privately owned island where the disappearances occurred. Hand her the problem of dealing with the island's current owner, a man with a magnetic sex appeal and a past as mysterious as the case she's researching. Then add in frightening psychic visions of danger and death. Put all of that together and what do you have?

DÉJÀ VU by Samantha Gentry. A romantic suspense novel scheduled for release in three weeks, on January 15, 2010, from the Crimson Rose line at The Wild Rose Press ( Following is the opening scene of the book:

Alexandra Caldwell shivered, hunching her shoulders against the stiff ocean breeze as the boat pulled up to the dock at Skull Island. Even the name left her uneasy…Skull Island. It sounded like a sinister place inhabited by pirates, thugs, and other undesirables.

She glanced up at the angry storm clouds darkening the sky to the point where it seemed more like evening than eleven o’clock in the morning. Another tremor of apprehension washed through her body. Ever since she was a little girl, thunder and lightning had frightened her. But as much as she wanted to blame the approaching storm for her uneasiness, it wasn’t solely responsible.

She forced her attention to the tall man standing dockside as he grabbed the line thrown to him and secured the vessel. He extended his hand to help her out of the boat. The instant they made physical contact, a potent arc of energy raced through her body followed by a moment of panic. The hair on her arms stood on end. Her mouth went dry and her throat tried to close.

The vision exploded in her mind. Mud…a wall of mud sliding down an embankment toward her. A fleeting glance of an out-of-focus face that turned into a human skull. Then a skeleton. And a second skeleton. She jerked her hand from his grasp while trying to force a calm to her momentary panic.

She didn’t know how to control her psychic abilities and didn’t always understand what the strange images, feelings, and dreams meant. However, she did know when they tried to tell her something important and this was definitely one of those times.

The man cocked his head to one side. A slight frown wrinkled across his brow as he stared at her with a quizzical expression. “Is something wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

She quickly recovered her composure, at least outwardly, and extended a businesslike smile. “No, nothing is wrong. Just a little spark of static electricity, I guess. It must have something to do with…” she glanced up at the threatening sky as a shiver of anxiety swept through her. “…uh, this approaching storm.”

She returned her attention to the man, her demeanor all business. “I’m Alexandra Caldwell. Mr. Talbot is expecting me.”

“I’m Gable Talbot.”

“You’re Gable Talbot?” She couldn’t hide her surprise. This man whose touch had sparked a disturbing sequence of frightening images was not at all what she had anticipated the owner of Skull Island would look like.


I'm currently living in Kansas, but have lived most of my life in the Los Angeles area.

For 20 years I worked in television production before becoming a full time writer. For many years photography was my avocation and that's what started me writing—non-fiction magazine articles to accompany my photographs. The writing eventually segued into fiction and novels.

As Shawna Delacorte, I have 21 novels published with Harlequin. My first Samantha Gentry ebook was published in January 2006. In addition to writing, I also teach an 8 week fiction writing class at the state university twice a year.

Stop by my website to read more about DÉJÀ VU and my other books currently in release.

And don't forget my blog. I do a new post every Sunday morning.


melanie said...

I love Santa he makes me feel like a kid again

susan said...

Thanks for all your research about how Santa is celebrated in different interesting. At almost 63 I still am in awe of Santa..not QUITE like when I was a child of course but he is still part of Christmas. I have my picture taken every year with him at the store where I work. I don't want to grow up in this aspect of things so I have fun every year. Being mature is one thing..being grown up is another. ha ha

I have read some of your Harlequin books under Shawna Delacorte and never realized who you were when I met you as Samantha Gentry. Now I feel stupid. ha ha

Your new book sure sounds good and I hope to get it when I can. I have ben entering these web sites this year and having fun doing it. I retired in Jan and went seeking a new interest connected with something I have done all my life..reading books. It has been a fun year and I look forward to more to come.

Have a wonderful Christmas and may 2010 be a great year for all of us. susan L.

s7anna said...

I had no idea how competitive the professional Santa world was...I mean professional and Santa didn't really occur to me until your post. I'm looking forward to checking out your latest release.

Merry Christmas
Anna Shah Hoque

Nancy G said...

So Santa is more than just a jolly fat man-who knew there was so much training involved? Thanks so much for the research, and the entertaining presentation of it.

Debbie Tsikuris said...

Cute tips for Santas everywhere!
Loved your photo, it's great to put a face to the author. Have read several of your books and must say have really enjoyed them all. Have a Merry Christmas :-)

debbie (dat)

Samantha Gentry said...

Melanie: He's for the kid in all of us!

Samantha Gentry said...

Susan: Being retired from the 'day job' opens up a whole lot of possibilities to pursue. Good luck.

Samantha Gentry said...

Anna: LOL...yes, it is odd to think of Santa and professional in the same sentence.

Samantha Gentry said...

Nancy: Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Samantha Gentry said...

Thanks, Debbie. I'm glad you enjoyed my books.

Mary Ricksen said...

Merry Christmas Samantha and great sales in the New Year!

robynl said...

hi and welcome; I so want to read Deja Vu after reading the short blurb. Definitely my kind of reading.

Very interesting blog and thanks for the info. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Samantha Gentry said...

Thanks, Mary. I hope the book gods year your words. :)

Samantha Gentry said...

Thanks, Robyn. I have one excerpt on my website and will have others posted on my website next month when the book comes out.

sherry said...

Thanks for all of the Santa trivia. The Santa in the mall that I shop has a Santa with the real beard and he's always smiling and is great with the kids. I really liked the sound of your book and I can't wait to read it.

Samantha Gentry said...

Sherry: Thanks. DEJA VU is available January 15th, which is almost here. I don't know where this year has gone, but it really flew by.

Debby said...

I love the Santa picture. Deja Vu looks great as well. debby236 @

Jeanine said...

Wow I really enjoyed the Santa Facts and the peek at DejaVu


Samantha Gentry said...

Debby: Thanks. If one Santa is good, then two Santa should be great! :)

Samantha Gentry said...

Jeanine: Thanks. Deja Vu releases as ebook on January 15 and is currently available for print pre-order at The Wild Rose Press

Virginia C said...

Hi, Samantha!

Thank you for the yummy Christmas buns! Happy Holidays!

gcwhiskas at aol dot ocm

Samantha Gentry said...

Virginia: Yes, he is a yummy looking treat. I wouldn't mind finding him under my Christmas tree. :)