Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Spunky Senior Author, Lorna Collins, Shares Christmas in California

Lorna Collins

Today, Lorna is Sharing Her California Christmas With Us 

Christmas in California by Lorna Collins

As a native Californian, I'm often asked how it can feel like Christmas with no snow. After all, Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas while sitting around a hotel pool in Beverly Hills.

The sun is shining,
The grass is green,
The orange and palm trees sway.
There's never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L.A.
(Verse of "White Christmas".

People always think there's no snow in this part of the state. In fact, we even had snow at our house. Of course, the only time it happened in my lifetime was in 1949.

However, this is one of the few places in the world where we have such varied micro-climates. Within a couple of hours, it is possible to go from the beach to the snow in the mountains to the desert. In fact, for many years, three men in San Clemente had a New Year's Day ritual. They began the morning by surfing at San Clemente pier. Then they jumped in the car and went to Big Bear to go skiing. In the late afternoon, they went to the desert.

You may think that since we live here, we've never experienced white Christmases. You'd be wrong.

In 1969, we spent the holidays in the Chicago area of Illinois with gray skies and wet, heavy snow. It was bitterly cold and going outside was a chore. And the fierce winds off the lake blew the bone-chilling freezing cold through us. No amount of warm clothing could really keep us warm. Since it was our first time away from our families during the holidays, we really wanted to be back in the warmth of our home.

Two years later, we lived in Denver, Colorado. This snow was white powder. After a day or two of stormy weather, the skies cleared, the roads were cleaned, and the area became a winter play land. Although we still had to bundle up against the cold, the nearby mountains were worth the effort.

When we left Chicago, I was sure we'd never live anywhere with worse winters. Then we moved to Osaka, Japan. Our home was in the suburb of Takarazuka, about an hour outside the city. The fierce wind blew down the ice-covered slopes of Mt. Rokko and penetrated our bones.

Once again, being so far from home made the holidays harder.

After three winters in Japan, we were so glad to be back home in Dana Point. The weather gets cool and crisp between November and March but without the bitter cold. As Larry says, "And you don't have to scrape the sunshine off the windshield."

December is my favorite month here at the beach. The skies are blue, unlike in the summer when 'June gloom' (morning fog) blankets the coast until noon. It's usually cool enough for a sweatshirt but warm enough to be comfortable. And the summer crowds are long gone.

Having experienced the traditional white Christmas, we prefer the holiday right here at the beach without snow!

And here's something about Lorna's Book:


When an unemployed computer programmer inherits a California beach cottage from her great-great-aunt, she’s delighted. But she’s in for a huge surprise: The house is haunted by the ghost of a famous romance writer who insists the young woman complete his last novel, threatening to keep her from sleeping until she agrees. The ensuing clash pits youth against the long-dead but still egotistical author with humorous and moving results.

Stay Tuned For Next Week To Read About Lorna's Husband, Surfing Larry, and The Books They've Written Together.
Lorna and Larry Collins

In the meantime, you can check out their books at
Lorna Collins and her husband, Larry, were raised in Alhambra, California where they attended grammar school and high school together. They have been married for over forty years and have one daughter, Kimberly.
Larry is an engineer and spent many years working on various projects throughout the United States and around the world. They both love to travel whenever they get the chance. Lorna was in Document Control, IT Change Management, and Technical Writing prior to her recent retirement.
They both worked in Osaka, Japan on the Universal Studios Japan theme park. Larry was a Project Engineer, responsible for the Jurassic Park, JAWS, and WaterWorld attractions. Lorna was the Document Control Supervisor in the Osaka field office.
Their memoir of that experience, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, was a 2006 EPPIE finalist and named as one of Rebeccas Reads Best nonfiction books of 2005.
Their cozy mysteries, Murder... They Wrote and Murder in Paradise (2011 EPIC eBook Award finalist) were published by Whiskey Creek Press. Both are set in Hawaii featuring protagonist Agapé Jones. They have at least two more books planned in this cozy mystery series.
Lorna also writes anthologies with several friends, also for Whiskey Creek Press. Together they have published Snowflake Secrets (Dream Realm Award, Eric Hoffer, and EPPIE finalist), Seasons of LoveDirections of Love (2011 EPIC eBook Award winner) and An Aspen Grove Christmas. The first three were written with Sherry Derr-Wille, Christie Shary and Luanna Rugh. The last also introduced new author Cheryl Gardarian. The group’s next anthology, The Art of Love, will be published soon.
Lorna’s first solo work, Ghost Writer was released in 2012 by Oak Tree Press.
She is currently hard at work on another ghost story, a new anthology, and the next mystery. In addition, she and Larry have begun an historical novel set in San Juan Capistrano.
They currently live in Dana Point, California.
Please leave a comment to welcome Lorna Collins to Spunky Senior Authors and Talents.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks. We've had an amazing time - so much more than we could ever have imagined. We were decorating the tree with the neighbor kids the other day, and I told them each ornament had a story. Since many of them came from our travels, one of the kids finally asked, "Have you gone everywhere in the world/" The answer is: Not everywhere, but we're working on it!

  2. How lovely to read about a fellow "senior" author who also lives in California. I hate the cold and abhor the heat, so living in the San Francisco Bay Area is wonderful. The weather right now is delightful - in the low 50's and riding my horse in the Oakland hills is so much fun. I wouldn't trade this for anything.

    1. I so agree. I could never live in the desert. Too hot. I can tolerate the cold, only because you can always add layers. But there were months in Takarazuka, Japan where I never got warm. Give me temperate So. Cal. any time!

  3. Thanks for the comments. We have led an amazing life- far more so than we could have imagined! We've experienced cold climates, but I'll take the weather here any time!

  4. I've lived in Inland California most of my life near Pasadena where the Rose Parade is. Every year the Rose Parade is sunny and warm, so when we decided on a Dec. 30th wedding, we schedule it to be outside. It was beautiful and sunny. All my New York relatives were openly jealous. It'd be nice to have a white Christmas, but I'm all right with anything as long as I get to be with the people I like.

    1. I'm with you, John. It's all about the people you love.

  5. Where we live in California we get snow a wee bit more often. I remember the L.A. snow in 1949, but we had three snowy days here about 10 years ago. The schools even closed. Right now it is really cold and we have frost on everything. The snow level is about 5000 feet so we can see it all around us. California is such a big (long) state, you can have all different kinds of weather depending upon where you are.

    1. The micro-climates are one of the best things about living in this state. You can find whatever you're looking for right here without having to travel too far. Want to ski? It's about an hour away. Want to surf? Well, in our case, it's about five minutes away. However, today was too cold for the 'old guys' to go out. They did join us for a walk, however.

  6. Even though I now live in California, I was born and raised in southern Florida, so we had palm swaying Christmases, as well. In fact, I didn't see snow in the flesh until I was 23! San Jose is experiencing some frost the past few mornings, but the days warm up to the mid-sixties. I love it here. You can really keep the snow, as far as I'm concerned. It's too cold! Happy Holidays, everyone!

    1. Heather, I didn't move to Illinois until I was twenty-three, so I hadn't actually lived in the snow until then. but here, we can look towards the mountains and see lots of the white stuff. And that's entirely close enough for me!

  7. Welcome to Spunky Senior Authors and Talents, Lorna. Here in Illinois we are awaiting our first major snowstorm of the season. Are you jealous?

    Actually, I'm not that thrilled about snow. It looks pretty, but gets in the way!

    Morgan Mandel
    Twitter: @MorganMandel

    1. NOT! This morning we walked for a couple of miles at the marina. The air was crisp and clear, and the view was GORGEOUS!

  8. I love Southern California (well, and Monterey, too; we've never lived any farther north on the West Coast than that). San Diego was my favorite of all the places we've lived as a Navy family. Fellow easterners sometimes asked if I didn't miss the seasons. To me, that was like missing hitting yourself over the head with a hammer because it feels good when you stop.:) I've always liked that introductory verse of "White Christmas" and wish more recordings would include it. For me, that part "makes" the song, gives it some depth, esp. the lines you didn't print: "But it's December the 24th, And I am longing to be up north."

    1. :-) I so agree. I'm a Christmas song fanatic and know all the verses to all the songs that you almost never hear sung. AND I can and do sing them!

  9. Hi Lorna! Can't wait to se tour smiling face at EPICON 2013.

  10. Hi Lorna: I live in Michigan where we have been sadly lacking in snow this year. We are facing the same snow storm as Morgan, although that is not always the case. There is just something about fresh snow that means Christmas is here. It's time for a little white Christmas.
    W.S. Gager on Writing

    1. Wendy, you should be getting a doozie of a storm this weekend. Glad you enjoy it. I'll take the sunshine, but I am grateful that we were able to experience a few white Christmases so I can write about them accurately. (Our romance anthologies are set in the mountains of Colorado.)

  11. Lives cross in the "small community" of writers, and the experiences of so many are surprisingly similar. I was born in Texas, raised in Southern California (Whittier High School), married my ever lovin' (Alhambra High & UCLA graduate) in San Gabriel in June 1952. So we have a few years on you, Lorna. We now live in Northern California; Crescent City the last city on California's coast before stepping into Oregon.

    I remember the 1949 snow, Lorna, (walking to the bus stop wearing white mittens turned black from oil-burning smudge pots to protect orange trees). We owned an avocado grove in Fallbook during the 1969 snowfall. Though the snowfall was significant in North San Diego County, we only lost one tree limb because of the added weight. The next year, 1970, was worse when we had a "black freeze." For weeks we listened to an estimated crop of 80 thousand pounds of avocados fall to the ground, one after the other, frozen and rotting.

    If you don't know, a black freeze is just that. By 3 p.m. that day the sky was black because there was no ceiling. Temperature at 30 degrees, and it went down from there, all night long.

    Because California is so long, we have every micro climate there is. And doesn't that make it unique? LOL Merry Christmas!

    1. Small world, indeed! Larry and I both graduated from Alhambra High! (He in '62 and I in '64.) My cousin and her husband raised avocados in Fallbrook commercially for a number of years. They sold the year before the San Diego fire wiped out much of that area. A couple of what had been their orchards were lost.

      Glad someone else still remembers the great snowstorm of '49. Of course, it only stayed on the ground a very short time. Both Larry and I remember it, though.

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